Fight, Flight, Freeze or More?

There’s More to Responding to Threat: Fight, Flight, or Freeze

Most of us know the usual ways we respond to a threat: Fight, Flight, or Freeze. It’s an instinctive way to survive danger. There are other responses, too. For instance, armadillos jump straight up to appear bigger than they are when faced with a predator. Works great until an armadillo responds that way to an oncoming car. Then it doesn’t work at all. In the animal kingdom you can observe other strategies of deception that can work in the face of a threat. Camouflage is an example.

What I’ve noticed is job searchers also use the Fight, Flight, or Freeze reactions to manage anxiety. If you have a preferred “go-to” reaction evaluate if it works for you, and if it doesn’t, to try being with the threat in a different way.

Before Joan was laid off, she had been a top sales gal. She was successful because of her aggressive tactics. She knew how to ask for the sale. Anyone that knew Joan knew her as a Warrior. But she wasn’t getting second interviews. She scared the very people who could hire her. Joan did not see it that way. She thought she just needed to try harder, instead of toning it down a bit, because that’s what worked for in her sales.

Hank was usually quiet and compliant. He didn’t make waves. When trouble came, he ran the other way. He avoided conflict at any cost. He had a reputation for being both passive and productive. It was easy to take advantage of Hank because he gave in at the first hint of conflict. Hank couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t advancing in his career.

Chris was also out-of-work, but seemed incapable of self-advocacy. Having been beaten down so many times by a previous employer, Chris froze at the “threat” of finding work. For Chris a job search meant exposure to strangers, and strangers were not safe.

Yet how does Joan become more collaborative, Hank more assertive, and Chris more courageous? I believe hiring a coach can be immensely helpful to get an outside perspective to develop better strategies.

AND in my upcoming book Chin Up, Chin Out Job Search I outline how to build a success team to make your job search faster and easier. Note this advise also applies to other areas of your life where you feel stuck or stalled. Don’t Go It Alone. Here’s an excerpt for you to find work faster and easier: 

IDEA #11 DON’T DO IT ALONE  (Excerpt from my upcoming book: Chin Up, Chin Out Job Search. Want to buy a copy when it comes out this Spring? Let me know! Shary Raske)

It’s ironic. The very person you think you should turn to for support probably isn’t the best person to ask. Why? Because there is a built-in conflict of interest. If you are financially tied to your loved one, then he or she will need support, too. If it’s Dad or Mom or a sibling, they have a certain image of you that may or may not help you discern your options. The other conflict of interest is your loved ones will worry, too. You have enough of that as it is.

Don’t get me wrong, loved ones often ARE there for you; but their support is limited. Better to get an impartial team built around you. Choose people who are not tied financially to you. Choose people who have been through a successful search within the last three years. Choose people who are gentle and respectful when they give you feedback that you are missing the mark.

I recommend you find several positive people for your success team. You will need:

  • A Taskmaster. The role of the taskmaster is to go over your weekly plan. At the end of the week, the taskmaster will say, “Did you keep your promises? If not, what got in the way? What is your plan for next week?” Note that none of these questions is shaming or demeaning. These questions are for accountability.
  • An Encourager. Most people do not get through a search without feeling panic, anger, and feeling down. And it will happen more than once. An Encourager allows you to intentionally retreat and be comforted, but also encourages you to get back in the game. Note that an Encourager doesn’t rescue or feel sorry for you.
  • A Cheerleader. When you are feeling wounded, the cheerleader is there to remind you of your greatness. The cheerleader reminds you are a good person, that you have a lot to offer, and that your future employer will be lucky to have you.
  • A Reality Check Guide. Let’s say you are looking for an accounting job but find yourself applying for a dog food sales rep position. Your Reality Check Guide will gently remind you to get back on track. However, IF being a dog food sales rep is truly more appealing than being an accountant, use Career Research meetings to determine HOW to make this move. Resist the urge to simply apply online. Don’t allow others to talk you into a job that isn’t right for you, and don’t do it to yourself either. The Realty Check Guide will ask, “Help me understand how this occupation fit with your overall interests and skills.”


My intention is to not overuse my loved ones for venting and complaining. I will bring people into my life who will be part of my success team who will both encourage me and hold me accountable. I will come home at night with my head held high, knowing that just for this day, I did my very best thanks to my success team.


If you are stuck, stalled, or discontent, maybe it’s time to hire a coach. Professionals hire me when they want more satisfaction at work OR they want to change to a different career OR they are not attracting quality job interviews with their current search plan. Don’t go it alone. Call today at 314-560-1088 Ask for Shary Raske


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