How to Deal With Fear

By Michael Scott, Regional Sales Manager, Dunder-Mifflin

“It’s very scary stuff!”


Those are the words sheepishly uttered by Dunder-Mifflin Regional Sales Manager Michael Scott when he was asked by his administrative assistant Pam Beesly why he had waited so long before deciding who he was going to fire.

Scott’s corporate office had apparently told him some time ago that he was going to need to let someone in his office go for budgetary reasons. He received a call from his boss on his morning arrival in his office asking who it was he had decided to release.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the television show The Office you need to understand that the above scenario is fictitious. This show ran in the U.S. from 2005 to 2013 and was highly rated and won many awards during its run. Michael Scott was the main character and was known for his political incorrectness and his lack of true management skills as well as a lack of social skills. However, he thinks he is highly proficient in his role.

The show often makes you cringe at the unprofessional dialogue but what makes the show funny is that it is a little to close to reality for many office workplaces in the country. If you’ve ever worked in an office setting there is usually at least one snippet in each episode to which you can relate.

This particular episode is episode 5 from season 2. In his ineptness, Scott teaches us three ways not to deal with difficult, fearful situations in the workplace.

  1. Procrastination or Avoidance – As mentioned earlier, Scott has known for some time that he needs to let someone go. He does absolutely nothing about it and puts it off as long as he can. Even when he is called by his boss to let them know his decision, he tells them he will decide by the end of the day. As Michael said, letting people go is “very scary stuff.” Putting the decision off doesn’t make it any easier. In fact, it only increases the anxiety for everyone involved. How many of us can relate to managing like Michael at least one time in our career?
  2. Pass the buck – After hanging up with his boss he calls in his administrative assistant, Pam which led to the scary stuff conversation. Scott doesn’t want to make the decision so he asks her who he should let go. Pam says she just answers phones and isn’t qualified to make that decision. Next he calls in Dwight Schrute, who holds the title Assistant to the Regional Manager. Schrute wants power and wants to be in charge but is not respected by anyone in the office. Together they decide that Stanley is the man that needs to go. However, Scott isn’t the one to tell him, Schrute is. Stanley doesn’t accept the firing from Schrute. Dwight goes back and tells Michael that if he wants Stanley to go he is going to need to tell him himself. That doesn’t happen. Again, have you ever tried to get someone else to do your job, or a particular task, because it was a difficult one?
  3. Waffle – Finally, Scott comes to the conclusion that the person to go is Creed Bratton. Scott musters up enough courage to tell Bratton himself. He begins by beating around the bush and not getting to the point of giving Bratton the bad news. When he finally does Bratton talks him out of it and gives him the name of another employee who deserves to be let go more than him. When you finally make that difficult decision do you stick to your guns or do you waffle and cave?

Fear plays itself out in our lives personally and professionally every day. Often, we simply don’t recognize it. Courage could play itself out as well if we make that choice.

How has fear affected you in your workplace?

How has courage affected you in your workplace?

I challenge and encourage you to not lead the Michael Scott way!

Joshua 1:9


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