In coaching and consulting conversations, it is often useful to give space to fears: to express them, to be able to look deeper, find out what information they are carrying and find solutions when they are blocking action.
However, it can be difficult to express fears openly, especially when in a group situation. And when people do express fear, the situation can easily turn “dark” and gloomy.
Together with colleague Karolina Iwa of Progressive Partners, I came up with the idea of creating a persona to hold the fear. By creating a “fearful character”, it could be easier to express fear safely: We envisioned a humorous situation in which the client could say. “*I* have no fears, but my little friend here…” and then have space to voice even irrational fears that otherwise might stay unvoiced but still be present.
I have been experimenting with this intervention in latest client meeting and found it to be very useful.
Here are two personas I created on the spot when working with artist Heidi Morgenstern in Dresden the other week:
On the left is the scared person: they are raising their arms in the air and opening their mouth as if saying: “aaah! It will go wrong!”
On the right is the overconfident person, with broad shoulders, arms hanging, saying: “oh, we are great, everything we do is great, it is going to be fine”.
(The blue circle in the middle represents a balanced position.)
The client can first let the fearful character speak. Then I address the client again: “so, when you hear this fearful person, what do _you_ say?” Then the client can find appreciation for the care and need for security that is often present in the fears, and can work on a balanced response.
Some fears need taking care of, some just need to be acknowledged.
Try it yourself! In a situation where some fear is present and is blocking you from action, make a fearful character and go: “*I* have no fear (tapping your chest), but this little guy here…”See what comes out. See what they need. What do you need to “feed” the fearful person for them to go along with your next elegant step of action?
Let us know about your experiences, please!