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6 Ways on Dealing With People Who Fear What They Don't Understand

Updated: Nov 9, 2022

This post contains affiliate links at the end. For more information, see my disclosure here.

It sucks when people react negatively to something they are unfamiliar with.

It sucks even more when they don't even bother listening to you, your ideas, and/or opinions.

You'll know how frustrating it'll be when you've already anticipated the outcome. Yet, you're still going to talk to these people about it.

So I am here today to help you deal with people who fear things they don't understand.

But first, there are 2 things you would need to know before getting into situations like these again. They are:

Although it can likely ease the tensions between you and the person you are talking to, it is not 100% guaranteed to work.

We have to consider their personality as a whole if:

  • There is stress currently going on in the conversation

  • Any other different factors that can't be explained, which you may not know of, and should not be assumed

Let's get started.


An Introduction

I want to start things off with a story about the time when I transferred to a new school after community college.

At the time, I had recently bought a onewheel to get around a massive school campus when it was still fairly new on the market and unfamiliar to people in 2017, unlike today.

And even though I got around campus in just a few minutes, there were people I'd upset other than the campus police.

For instance, a librarian stopped me at the entrance when I was getting off my onewheel in front of one of the libraries at my school:

Librarian: You can’t bring that in here.
Me: What?
Librarian: You can’t bring that [onewheel] in here. You gotta lock it up.
Me: Umm... Okay??

Now what did I do wrong here?

2 problems:

Well, other than the fact that I should've stood my ground (but couldn't because I was still building my mindset, so my confidence wasn't there yet), the first problem was I wasn't mirroring her words.

When you mirror someone's words, the perception of the person (or people) you are talking to gives them the impression that you understand them.

It's much like mirroring body language (except in situations where you don't want to escalate the conflict).

The thing you don't want to be doing is using different words that have a similar meaning. That will lead to misconceptions and have them subconsciously think, "No, you don't understand me because you can't grasp my viewpoint."

What I've just explained is a minor problem that leads to my second problem, which I identify as the primary problem: miscommunication.

From the librarian's viewpoint, she was communicating in the form of actions while I was operating in the form of logic, which communication is not compatible with my brain.

At this point, you're most likely wondering or asking me what kind of jargon I'm talking about. That is what we'll dive into in the next section.


The 6 Ways of Dealing With People Who Are Afraid of the Unknown

Identifying the Preference of Communication for Each Person

Dealing with people that react negatively to things they are unfamiliar with, considered as neophobia, is very frustrating for most of us.

I've seen Facebook posts back in the day where people shared their onewheel stories about how they had trouble bringing it into certain places. An airport was a notorious place because security would say it looked "dangerous," the battery might be a "bomb," etc.

Luckily, there is a system called the Process-Communication Model, or PCM for short, which you could use to identify the type of communication the person prefers.

6 types of personalities and communication styles reside in all of us. But we prefer sticking with only one, since communicating using the other 5 can typically cause distress to us or other people.

Each of them has very distinct forms of personality you can identify through:

  • Body language

  • Personal possessions (also considered as a form of body language)

And when you combine:

  • The communication model

  • Interpretation of people's body language

  • Mirroring people's body language along with their words back at them

You can avoid further escalating the conflict and create a sense of calmness instead.

"I understand how/why you think / feel / act / believe / react this way" is what you will try to communicate with people that behave negatively.


How to Properly Communicate With People Based on Their Needs

Unfortunately, I cannot provide you with specific guidance on how to properly communicate with people based on their psychological needs since I am not a certified professional (yet).

What I can do is provide you with resources written by professionals to help guide you on a miscommunication with different types of individuals. These are books I highly recommend:

I want to familiarize myself with PCM first!

I want to understand how PCM is used to communicate with people daily!

  • Understand to Be Understood: By Using the Process Communication Model

    • This book is also written by Gérard Collignon but it's geared more towards trainers and coaches as a reference guide.

    • But what I like about this book is that it contains practical example problems used for PCM that you can try answering yourself though it's mostly like the previous book above except it's more out of order.

I want to understand PCM even further!

If you would like more practice, I highly suggest seeking a coach or trainer for this.


The material I mentioned on PCM is for informational purposes only and does not replace the advice of a certified specialist. Please seek a certified PCM trainer or coach if you would like further guidance.


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