Like snarling beasts backed into a corner, the fear biter usually begins the interlude with subtle signs. If you know how to read them, you are one step ahead of the game. If not, well, break out the band-aids, because you’re about to become kibbles and bits.
Subtle signs may include an invigorated interest, intense eye contact, retracted ears – no wait – that’s a dog, loud or energetic verbal response or barking and vehement protests with no real explanation or reasoning as to why. It continues with snarling and the imminent lunge at your throat. Then they bite. Alright, they don’t ALWAYS go for the throat. There are those pesky ankle biters.
The bite stings, frightens and damages the unsuspecting approacher. It is uncalled for! Obviously, these people have issues. Trust me, fear biting creates trust issues on both ends. (click to tweet)
Now, I’m sure we all have the capability to snap at others from time to time. Generally, this happens when we feel threatened, unfairly blamed or insecure. You know if you’re doing it, right? You feel yourself react, maybe even over react. Perhaps there’s a tinge of remorse afterward, or you notice relationships keep changing. When behaviour is stable and two people are communicating well, the relationship feels solid. You can discuss the undiscussables. When a person is a fear biter, it’s difficult to approach challenging topics because that person is defensive before the conversation begins.
So what’s going on? In the head of the fear biter they wonder (mostly, I’m guessing here):
What is wrong with them? Why are people always going over my head/blaming me/ piling on/quitting/ afraid to be my friend/(insert your verb and noun here)?
What they really should explore is:
Is it me? Or is it me???
It takes courage and confidence to accept feed back, or listen to new ideas that aren’t yours when you don’t feel completely safe, valued or adept. You must be brave and open to admit your own mistakes (and make no mistake…we all make mistakes). Admitting you’re at fault has a predictable outcome – people respect you. That’s right.
It’s a display of maturity and emotional wellness. It’s an interpersonal skill…eating from the hand of others without losing who you think you are.
So how do you deal with the fear biter? Well, first you determine whether they’re worth the effort. Yes, I did say that.
“Sometimes you have enough garbage in your can and you don’t need it spillin’ into the street, so to speak.” (click to Tweet)
So, if you feel it’s worth your time and energy to take a chance on the fear biter, here are some things you might try:
1. Be patient – trust isn’t built in a day – especially the trust of those who do not share it easily. It’s going to take some compassion, patience and time.
2. Listen and also be heard – Make sure you get the facts right and the person is understanding what you’re trying to convey. Misunderstandings unravel delicate situations.
3. Build rapport – Show yourself as non-judgmental and interested in the betterment of all in the given situation. Honestly, everyone has their stuff – a lot of good comes from accepting that fact up front.
4.When the going gets sticky, remain calm and ask open-ended questions – Have you considered….? What would happen if….? What would you like to see happen when….?
5. Resolution trumps blame – When someone is making you work hard for things that normally go easily for you, it’s tempting to give up or to blame. Remember, resolution moves your world forward and blame keeps you stuck. There is a lesson and it will be worth it when you finally break through.
6. Pitch ideas very softly – It’s slow pitch, people. Soft lobs. (Get the ball, get the ball!). Some people are more agreeable when they believe the idea was their own. What difference does it make as long as the result is beneficial to both of you?
7. Celebrate winning outcomes together – Express your gratitude and appreciation that you were able to work together well. Here’s a treat…that’s a good boy!
Now, before I get a lot of hate mail let me confess. I know I’m being a tad snarky here. Adjusting communication STYLES to communicate more EFFECTIVELY – well, that’s what GOOD communicators do. We might as well have a bit of fun with it. Say “Woof!” if you agree.
Belly Rubs All Around – and Don’t Bite!
Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, helping them to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy more success in their lives.
For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!