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How to Deal With the Fear of Being Fired in the Workplace

by Anna Windermere

There are any number of reasons workers fear getting fired, from a lack of confidence in their performances to uncertainty about layoffs and downsizing. Working with the fear of being fired can add more stress to your job and limit your ability to perform up to expectations. You can deal with the fear of being fired by changing the way you think.

Stay in Balance

Having the mindset that you will be fine whether you get fired or not can ease the constant "what-ifs" that pass through your mind every time the boss passes by your desk. Recognize and accept that life comes with uncertainty, and that your fear of being fired is not going to change the inevitable. You might as well keep doing your job as best you can rather than adopt a mindset that paralyzes you. Get a realistic picture on the probability of getting fired by asking yourself if you are being irrationally afraid, or if losing your job is a real possibility.

Find a Solution

Decide if there's anything you can do to improve your workplace situation to decrease the chance of getting fired. If your performance is an issue, now is the time to get some constructive criticism from your boss. For example, ask for a performance review that provides clear action steps to improve your performance. If a co-worker is causing you problems, see if you can be reassigned to another project, team or department. If your fear is instigated by knowing you can't take on any more work, be honest with your supervisor about what you can and can't do. This is better than making promises that you know you can't keep.

Have a Backup Plan

If you've determined that there's a good chance of being fired -- because of an unreasonable boss, a mismatched work culture, or demands you just can't meet -- decide what you'd like to do in case you do lose your job. Create an action plan that provides positive steps for your career. Scan job listings and begin preparing for a new job search. Simply sending out resumes can reduce your fear of being fired, knowing that you have other options. Prepare an explanation to future potential employers as to why you were let go. Write a list of pros and cons, including the advantages of being fired and the disadvantages of staying with your current job.

Conquer Your Fear

If you can make peace with the idea of being fired, then you are more likely to relax and either handle a firing with grace or not get fired at all. Kim Kovacs, founder and CEO of software company OptionEase, suggests that workers not be afraid to fail. Living in fear means that you can't push yourself to the limits that can actually improve your performance and expand your career. Moreover, being fired might be a sign that the company isn't a good fit for you, and could lead to a better match for you elsewhere.

About the Author

Anna Windermere started her writing and editing career in 1993, upon graduating from the University of Florida's esteemed journalism school with a bachelor's in journalism. Ms. Windermere, a senior-level copy editor, has appeared in mastheads of newspapers and magazines as copy chief, writer and proofreader, including "Sun-Sentinel," "Miami Herald," "City Link," "New Times," "NewBeauty," "Luxe," "Florida Alligator," "Orange & Blue," and more.

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