No F.E.A.R Negotiations Part II: Types of Fears

Welcome to Part II of our six part series on No F.E.A.R Negotiating, exploring how to approach your negotiations without Fear, Ego, Attachment, or Reactivity (F.E.A.R). Last time, we discussed fear and how it holds you back. Today, let’s dig in and get specific about some of the most popular fear factors and why you want to avoid them in your bargaining to ensure you get what you want and deserve.

(i)          Fear of failure

Do you fear failure? Under-achievers and over-achievers alike often suffer from fear of failure. You may think of it as fear of embarrassment or fear of being judged. People you negotiate with can feel this fear. It manifests in a number of ways and tells. Needless to say, this weakens your position vis-à-vis that person. Fear of failure typically either has us step back and away from our power, or alternatively, overcompensate in an attempt to cover it with whitewash. Neither approach serves the higher negotiator in you. Ironically, in fearing failure you call it to you. Focusing on failure distracts you from your real outcome, compromises your clarity, diminishes your communication, and undermines your comfort and confidence. You’ll lose sight of your compelling vision for the future and pull back. Or at the other end, you’ll get too chatty. The more you talk, the more ammunition you give and, contrary to popular belief, the less command you’ll hold. I invite you to dig deep to determine the real source of this fear. Usually something else underlies fear of failure and when you can name it, you can fight it, or better yet, learn to use it to fuel you.

(ii)        Fear of success

The oft-ignored sister to fear of failure, is fear of success. We often subconsciously fear and shrink away from the full strength of our power. This is particularly true for women. Limiting beliefs that likely dogged us since childhood hold us back. These are often tied to baggage around money/wealth (rich people are greedy and money is the root of all evil); our sense of worth (I’m not enough); being seen (I’ll be judged or shunned if I’m seen as ‘too much’); and/or tall poppy syndrome (if I stand out I’ll be cut down). Based on these debilitating beliefs, we self-sabotage and prevent ourselves from achieving the full level of success or power that could be within our grasp. And so, it’s important to do the inner work on these internal limiting beliefs if you want to be your most effective negotiator.


I particularly love Marianne Williamson’s quote on this issue:

“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that brightens us. We ask ourselves ‘who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? … Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”

As I discussed in How to Negotiate Past Your Fear, why not reframe your fear and use it as a source of empowerment?

I unwittingly suffered from fear of success for a long time. Coming from nothing, I carried a lot of unconscious judgment about money and people with it. There were a lot of arguments about cash growing up – there just never seemed to be enough. I remember sitting around our tiny Formica kitchen table in our tiny apartment, listening to my dad talk about the rich. I learned to equate money with want at one end and greed or exploitation at the other. And so, it’s perhaps no surprise that as my law practice thrived, I always felt the need to justify any perceived extravagances or successes. It kept me thinking small. It stopped me from charging what I was worth. It blocked me from bigger deals and opportunities. I got great results for my clients, but sabotaged myself from catapulting to the next level. I invite you to consider if you have limiting beliefs that are holding you back from stepping into your limitless future.

Do either of these fears resonate with you? Perhaps your fear of failure is really a fear of success at its root. It’s important to recognize your fears and name them. Dig deep. Truly seeing them and their impact is a key first step to letting them go, or being able to use them to propel you to the next level. Conscious awareness of your fears will give you more control, ease, clarity, confidence and perspective – all of which will help you keep your eye on the outcome to increase your chances of getting what you want, or more in your bargaining and your life.

Stay tuned for our next installment as we continue to explore fears, from fear of losing to fear of missing out and fear of the unknown.



assertiveness, bargaining, BATNA, communication, confidence, fear of failure, Fear of Success, Negotiation

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