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Climb every mountain

We are told to play to our strengths – but we all have weak spots that can sabotage a career. Here, three people confront their fears and learn the skills that they need to prosper…

“You do not speak to me like that”

Accountant, Susan Pierce, let her fear of bullies drive her out of the office

I’ve encountered my share of workplace bullies, and my decision five years ago to become a freelancer came partly from a desire to avoid them. But, looking back, I can see that the majority of my colleagues were lovely, and I liked working in a team. I resent that I allowed my fear of a few awkward types to restrict my options.

Coach Annie Ashdown, an expert in dealing with difficult people – ‘These are my busiest talks!’ – asks questions about my childhood (punitive), and points out the internal dynamic that this created: ‘bad girl – shame – trepidation – fear’.

If someone criticises me, or is angry with me, I assume it is in some way justified and slip into a shame response. This is common, says Ashdown. ‘We think they must be right. But, 90 per cent of the time, these people are just throwing their unprocessed crap at us.’

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Psychologies December 2016 - Stop Sibling Rivalry