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October 24, 2010 / Astor ICS

Increasing Successful International Communication by Decreasing Fear

As a foreigner working in another country, you can increase your respect level and productivity by doing one thing very fast. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but it works. Here it is: Decrease your fear level.

Sounds simple but fear is the main driving negative force in all people. It’s so profound that it is the basis for survival, that’s what psychologists say.

Fear gets us out of bad situations and dangerous places, but just the fact that it’s so strong, it also prevents us from seeing, communicating and speaking clearly. It’s a killer for a professional to be fear reactive when the moment calls for a cool head and a warm heart.

The popular coach, Marshall Goldsmith says that one should, ‘embrace the tension of diversity’. Now, this tension is brought about by nothing more than fear; fear of the unknown, fear associated with ignorance, or worse yet, fear associated with biases and deep-seeded bigotry. We don’t need to embrace it, we need to remove it.

So how can you pull that fear out by the root and liberate yourself? Here are four tips.

  1. Do no allow yourself to make negative stereotypes and look for reasons for confrontation. If you know that you shouldn’t be feeling this way and it’s not how you believe, but you do feel this way, make a conscious effort to stop. Use all your will and strength not to allow yourself this negative reaction. After a while it will become easier, but you need to be consistent with your deepest held beliefs……or change them if they have been proved wrong.
  2. Stay balanced and focused. Sometimes we become destabilized and in that state, we are easily pulled into fear by our survival mechanisms. Stay calm. A little exercise in calmness is to press the bottoms of your feet towards the ground and imagine a root growing in the Earth. It may sound a bit strange, but it works.
  3. Immediately stop and try to understand. Many times it’s the way a message is delivered that makes us uneasy. Look for the message and try to see beyond the superficial errors that a person makes when they are communicating.
  4. Find the ‘compatibility zone’.  Where do you have agreement with the other person? Go for that area and build from there. In management classes, they teach students to build on their strengths and help others to do so. In this case, when you find agreement somewhere, you can build on it to bridge many differences and acquire an increasing level of compatibility.

We have to remember that fear, aside from its survival mechanism, is as destructive as a bomb…for you. It won’t be easy to remove it, but you certainly can adjust it so you will not only get along better with your colleagues, bosses and reports, but you will feel better inside yourself, and that makes you more productive, efficient and most of all happy.

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