This wonderful addition to the Engagement series is by Suzanne Vara. Suzanne, in addition to being a dear friend of mine, is queen of community and founder of Kherize5 Marketing and Advertising. Suzanne blogs and tweets (@suzannevara), and I recommend you find her in both places!
Fear: a vexing emotion actuated by a perceived threat in response to some sort of stimulus. The stimulus, while generally thought of as external as in being afraid of the dark, bugs, a noise late at night, is also found in some deep seeded emotions. We are reactive to the stimuli that are happening now and proactive in a way by predict what will happen in the future, thus creating many different scenarios that are the building blocks for the fear to emerge. Fear holds us back as the perceive risk increases and it starts to overtake us, making us pause and the fear is so intense, we fail to act all together. Breaking away and rationalizing the fear is where we need to focus our efforts to avoid continuing the cycle of fear.
Interaction and Fear
Innately we are social people. We are taught at a very young age to play with other children, to share and respect elders. We are also taught values and, as we grow and mature, we socialize with people who share those values and develop long lasting friendships. When we are met with some adversity and are not accepted into a group or by an individual, we become angry. Our need to be accepted causes us some anguish and we immediately question ourselves and what we did wrong as opposed to looking at the group and individual and seeing why they are not right for us. We become fearful of any interaction with them and avoid them at all costs. We were rejected and that rejection shines through in anger, hostility thus leading to us refusing to have any interaction with them. The anger and hostility is the wall we build up from the fear of being rejected and are the excuse for why we do not try again.
Engagement and Fear
Fear in engagement is more prevalent than we like to admit. There are many people in the social sphere that we want to connect with but we are fearful to initiate the communication. This fear could have developed from reaching out to someone and not receiving a response or from the fact that we have placed them on a pedestal. We become anxious to make the first move and sometimes the fear devours the anxiety and we become very apprehensive as maybe what we said was “dumb” or they laughed at us (the scenarios that we create in our head that are so many times filled with insecurities and ridiculousness). When we hit that enter/send button, we take a few deep breaths and then watch them closely. When we see them responding to so many others we start to panic – what about us? What is wrong with us? Again, we immediately think it is us and not them. Do we know them well enough to know if we would want them a part of our community? Would we be friends with them in real life? Is their popularity creating the want for us to connect? Popularity is a big part of that inner need that we feel to connect with people. If we are tweeting with someone who is viewed as an a-lister, immediately people start to see us in a different light.
In engagement we fear the unknown. The thoughts of what will I say start to creep in and we stare blindly at the status update trying to find the words that we could jump in with and they would respond to. If we are trying to write something that they would respond to, are we showing them who we really are? We are treating them differently than we do others, but we still have conquered the fear of making that initial contact. We have taken the first step of trying to get them to notice us but now the new fear is will they respond? If they respond, a new fear then comes into play, do we respond back? When does the dialogue go to a deeper engagement? The fears stack up and are ongoing.
How to Conquer Fear
How we conquer our fears is different for everyone. Sometimes we have to just take a deep breathe and take the chance. Minimize the risk associated and go full steam ahead. We see this when people open a new business, offer a new service, merge to create a partnership and yes even in following/friending someone. What will the outcome be? The fear of the end result has to be diminished and we have to take the action so that there can be an end result. When we join in on a new chat, we tend to lurk for awhile and see where we can fit in. Once we feel that comfort level and talk, we only feel welcomed when we are responded to. It is interesting as we almost seamlessly launch a new blog but yet we are afraid to jump into a conversation. The fear should be greater in launching the blog. But, we hear over and over I do not know what to say to someone on Twitter or in a comment on Facebook or on a blog and see where the fear to engage is far greater than the one way communication of posting a blog post. Overcoming the fear of the one on one conversation in real time is difficult as once we are ignored we feel upset, angry and these emotions come back to us and we are apprehensive to try again.
Fears continue to inhibit us everyday and until we bring it to the forefront and accept it, we remain unable to conquer it. From the simplest fear to now knowing what to say to someone, the right question to ask, asking for help or venturing into a new business, we have to face our fears so we can grow and build upon our strengths and be guided through our weaknesses.
What are you afraid of when interacting and engaging?
This excellent contribution is post #17 in The Engagement Series. I hope you are enjoying it so far! 🙂
photo credit: epSos.de