Connect with us


Want to Deal with Fear as a Professional? Think Results!



Some time ago, after a group roundtable conversation that took several hours, one of the facilitators and I decided to have a chat. While we talked, he turned to look at someone who had just walked past us and asked me, ‘What’s wrong with this lady? She said nothing throughout the conversation. Is she alright?’ I chuckled and said, ‘Oh, she’s just a gentle and quiet person.’ He smiled, ‘There’s a difference between being quiet and silent. She’s silent, but silence should be a weapon, not your identity.’

Sometimes, when I think of my career, I remember his words; they have settled into a particular part of my brain, echoing every time I choose to be silent. For people like me who are introverted and sometimes socially anxious, we find ourselves being silent very often, choosing to talk only when we get very comfortable in our surroundings, workplaces and with people. But that is not what a good career requires. In fact, it demands our voices and contributions.

Some years ago, I was in a meeting my boss had graciously taken my colleague and me to. She involved us in all the company’s activities to prepare us for times when she’d be unavailable and we’d have to represent the company on her behalf. I sat with her in a meeting that lasted over 2 hours and said nothing. Every time I was asked if I had something to say, I’d say ‘Oh not yet, I’m listening.’ After we left, she turned to me and said, ‘Don’t try that again, it’ll make you look dumb. No matter what, say something in a meeting.’ To be honest, I knew nothing about the project they talked about nor did I have time to prepare for it. ‘Ehn, it doesn’t matter, just chip in. Even if it is to repeat what another person has said. Just think of something on the spot,’ she said. Years later, I see how effective that advice can be.

If you are like me, there are so many reasons you keep quiet or stay silent. One, because you are generally disinterested in the conversation. Another is because it is a new/unconventional space and you’re waiting to get comfortable before you chip in – remember how people say you’re so quiet and gentle until they get to know the real you? haha. It could also be because you think your thoughts and ideas are silly, and would rather keep them to yourself. It could be because you’re tired; there’s too much noise in today’s world, and everyone is screaming and clamouring to get themselves heard. So there’s an abegi-ness to the way you live your life.  Or you’re simply shy and uncomfortable, and the words get stuck in your head.

My mentor gave me a tip for this: one way to overcome this as a professional is to remind yourself that the result (what you stand to gain when you speak up) trumps your shyness or fear (whatever it is you feel, or whatever reason/excuse you may have). At some point, you must be driven by the result of whatever it is you want to achieve, so your feelings and insecurities can then take a back seat.

Being silent isn’t just not knowing when to talk or speak up for yourself, it is also not knowing how to enter certain places or approach certain people because you are scared or shy. So the first step, she said, is to identify where you’re headed, career-wise, and the vessels or vehicles that will take you there. These vehicles could be people, opportunities, skills, and so on. To effectively use this vehicle, you need certain things like confidence (to approach people, for instance), public speaking (for better visibility, for instance), and skills to get certain opportunities. Every time you’re anxious about speaking up, approaching someone, or applying for that opportunity, you have to remind yourself that you not harnessing those vehicles means you’re letting yourself remain stuck in your current position for as long as possible. When you think of it this way, you realise that the con of not moving forward far outweighs your shyness. Because both cannot thrive in the same space, you have to choose one over the other.

In plain terms, if you are too shy to reach out to someone who can help with your career, apply to that opportunity, or speak up when the need arises, then you will most likely remain where you are. So what do you do? Think of the result. Approaching this person will move you from level A to level C, and being in level C is more important than being shy, so you tuck your shyness beneath your tongue and speak up anyway.

There you have it – your solution to this problem: think results.

Editor at BellaNaija Features. And writing beautiful stories of places, things, and people like you. Reach out to me, I don't bite: d[email protected] | Instagram @oluwadunsin___ | Twitter @duunsin.


Star Features