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6 Ways To Come Out Of The Fear Zone At Work

Most women face the fear of judgment and being stereotyped at work. From simple things like asking for flexi-timings to talking about promotions and increments, women feel ‘fear-zoned’. Shaina Lulla, who is currently Head of Human Resources, Munich Re (India), shares her personal past experiences on how she became fearless at work.

Most women face the fear of judgment and being stereotyped at work. From simple things like asking for flexi-timings to talking about promotions and increments, women feel ‘fear-zoned’. Shaina Lulla, who is currently Head of Human Resources, Munich Re (India), shares her personal past experiences on how she became fearless at work.

She was afraid of heights, but she was much more afraid of never flying. ~ Atticus

What lies on the other side of fear ? Excitement, happiness, joy, thrill – it’s all there waiting for you IF you are willing to just live through and push past the fear inside. 

I am sharing a personal experience of an incident that changed my professional life, that helped me push past fear and which showed me what lies on the other side if you are brave enough to ask for it ! A few years ago, I went through some transitions in my personal life, changed jobs and changed houses. I also fell physically ill and was weak for a large part of the year, having had two major illnesses, one fracture and an increased commute time to work of 2.5 hours a day (that’s Mumbai traffic for you!).

After evaluating my options, I decided that remote working would give my body a chance to heal and recuperate while I could continue working and doing a job that I loved. 

However, I deliberated asking for remote working for several months as all kinds of doubts played out in my head:

  • This has never been done before
  • No one else works remotely in my team or even in my entire company in India
  • Culturally, this is not a popular option (we are talking pre-pandemic days)
  • People might see me differently if I ask for this
  • People might perceive me differently and judge my choices
  • Even worse, what if I get remote work and my teammates start treating me differently

But mostly, I didn’t ask for the fear of this request being rejected. I continued battling with the day to day commute and health issues over being brave and having a voice to ask what felt right for me. 

With my own doubts playing up and festering inside my head, I stagnated in this state of indecision and inaction. 

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Shortly after, I was nominated to be part of a High Potential Program across the Region and had the privilege to work with an executive coach for 6 months as part of my development plan. Hours of discussion and motivation from my coach led me to finally ask for a Remote Working option 2 days a week. 

When I now look back at that turning point, I dread to think how much time I wasted not acting in the best interests of my own mind and body. 

  • What would have happened if I let fear get the better of me and not take any action? 
  • Would something else have to go physically wrong for me to muster up my courage?
  • When would ‘someday later’ be too late ? 

I did get the remote working option granted.

I went on to successfully complete my High Potential Program.

I went on to be considered for an International Assignment a year later.

I went on to study and get certified as a Coach, being inspired how my Coach helped me make this one change – embrace my fear, acknowledge and accept it but also learn how to grow past it. 

Are you looking to make a transition or shift something in your life that you believe will benefit you but are too scared to do it? Fear compromises our ability to process our thoughts rationally and we tend to stick to our current patterns and avoid change as that protects us from the painful feeling of fear. Being habitual in nature is very comfortable and it is easy to get stuck in our everyday patterns.

We are likely to encounter challenges in the workplace and there could be several reasons for our fear and anxiety:

We fear we don’t have the experience

We fear the additional responsibility that change will bring

We fear loss of our position or role

We fear being judged for our choices

We fear trusting our inner voice

But most of all, what we fear is the unknown

Here are a few simple suggestions that will help you step out of the fear zone and motivate you to take action:

  • Acknowledge and accept  your fear; Identify and call out what exactly is making you feel this way.
  • Manage your feelings and discuss this with a trusted friend or advisor instead of bottling this up inside.
  • Identify your support system and seek out support.
  • Give yourself permission to experiment (and even make mistakes) – when trying to create a change, don’t be so hard on yourself and expect to get it 100% right the very first time.
  • Look back and learn from previous experiences; evaluate how things that you were once fearful of panned out for you and are now no longer a source of angst
  • Evaluate all options and be open to all possibilities. Keep asking yourself questions of what next and what else is possible instead of drawing conclusions. Conclusions reach problems whereas questions reach possibilities – be in the practice of moving from conclusions to possibilities.

New beginnings can be challenging – they can however also encourage you to go further than you ever imagined. Don’t let fear dictate your choice but let the rainbow of opportunities on the other side of fear, be your driving force. 

Every time you are stuck, think about these 2 questions:

How is not dealing with your fear negatively impacting you ?

What will you gain by overcoming this fear ?

This article is a part of #ThoughtMatters – a thought leadership series at Women’s Web. The views expressed in the article are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization. 

Image collage via Pexels


About the Author

Shaina Lulla

Shaina is a Postgraduate from Warwick Business School and an Erickson Certified Coach. She has 16 years of HR experience and her core expertise lies in establishing HR functions and institutionalizing HR processes and best read more...

1 Posts | 295 Views

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