Strategy #4 Dealing with Anxiety and Overwhelm

Over the last few weeks I’ve offered bite-sized strategies to help you (and to coach your employees) when you sense anxiety or overwhelm. This strategy is in my book, From Conflict to Courage, and it’s a favorite concept for many of my clients. This strategy tests for resistance; yours and other people’s.

Strategy #4 | The magic phrase 

Often the help and support we need from others never gets realized because of our own resistance to asking. Often we assume we know what the other person will say, so we avoid the risk of rejection by not asking. You can test for resistance by using the magic phrase “Would you be willing …?” Start by asking yourself, “Am I willing to ask even if I already know what they will say?”


The magic phrase “would you be willing …” allows you to test for someone else’s agreement or resistance to your request. The goal isn’t to always get your way, manipulate or win. Instead, the goal is to strengthen your ability to ask and to see where the movement might happen.

This method also reduces your anxiety by strengthening your sense of self to accept when others say no, rather than assuming a no. If you ask someone if they are willing to do XYZ and they offer excuses and reasons, it means they are in a state of resistance, and the real barrier is three layers deep. Often , if you use the phrase, “Would you be willing … ,” the other person finds some way to meet you halfway. And since there’s no pressure, they can say no without risk. No matter what skills the future of work requires of you, the one skill that will always benefit you personally and professionally is to protect and enhance your well-being.

To your peace and prosperity

Marlene Chism

Pick up a copy of From Conflict to Courage here.