Acting Outside Your Comfort Zone

How many times have you heard from friends, teachers, parents, colleagues, or bosses, telling you to get out of your comfort zone? How many times have you told yourself to do so?

On 15th January, 2020, 23 Greenwich students from Faculty of Business, Faculty of Education and Health, and Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences got out of their comfort zone by attending the Cultural Insight workshop 4. Together, they identified common challenges among students in areas of university, work, and personal life. These include

Students brainstormed situations where they wanted to get out of the comfort zone
DomainChallenging situation
·      Deliver public speaking (or a presentation), especially when English is not my native language;
·      Go on stage/ talk in front of the class
·      Understand the UK Higher Education and its expectations towards students
·      Work in a group and communicate well with other group members
·      Share my ideas more and speak up in group project
Do something I am not good at (e.g. academic writing) or I haven’t done before (e.g. make international friends)
• Attend extra-curriculum activities
• Talk to people I do not know at a networking event
• Get involved in workshops that can improve our employability skills, e.g. BSEO workshops
Work ·      Get a degree-related job
·      Attend a job interview in a non-traditional format, e.g. phone or video interview
·      Begin a new job in an unfamiliar environment
·      Take on a new job role (e.g. group leader, project manager)
·      Promote myself to my boss
·      Ask for promotion or pay rise
·      Speak to colleagues with a higher rank (e.g. managers)
·     Deal with difficult colleagues
Personal ·      Ask someone for a date or just to go out
·      Do something that I don’t used to do, e.g. going out at night, speak to a stranger, stop using mobile phone/ take a break from social media, be alone
·      Be more self-disciplined, e.g. go to the gym, do exercise 5 times a week
·      Ask for help
·      Eat alone in public
·      Travel to a country where people do not speak my mother tongue or English
·      Learn a different language
·      Explain my culture/language to someone who knows little about it
·      Make new friends
·      Tell someone something he/she might not aware (e.g. loose zip or tissue under their shoes)
·      Refuse a gift
·      Give negative feedback
·      Make important life decisions
·     Stand firmly for my own rights and onions
Students presented challenging situations by different life domains

Based on Dr Andy Molinsky’s work <<Reach: How To Build Confidence And Step Outside Your Comfort Zone>> , there are five psychological challenges that stop people from taking a move to go outside their comfort zone. These challenges often lead to negative emotions, which further drive us to use different avoidance strategies, such as procrastination, full on avoidance, doing the task partway, or passing the buck.

Psychological challenge Common thinking Associated emotions
Authenticity“This isn’t me at all.”Exhaustion
Confidence“I am not good at this behaviour, and it’s obvious to others.”Embarrassment
Likability “Doing this will make people not like me” or “ I worry how people may look at me” Anxiety
Resentment  “I shouldn’t have to be doing this behaviour in the first place.” Frustration
Morality “This behaviour isn’t something ‘I should be doing’” Anxiety

Through self-assessments and group discussions, workshop participants identified their own primary psychological challenges and shared tips that they’ve used to take a leap based on Dr Molinksy’s three strategies, personal conviction, customisation of behaviour, and clarity development. For example,

Strategy 1: Conviction– A deep belief in the purpose of what you’re doing. It can be improving your own lot in life or helping others.

Strategy 2: Customise one’s behaviour– putting your own personal touch or spin on behaviours you’re trying to master. Tools can be used include acting, customising the words you use, customising your body langue, customising the timing, using props, and customising the context.

Strategy 3: Clarity development– the ability to “normalise” your reactions and perceptions of a situation so that distorted thinking doesn’t sabotage your behaviour. You can achieve clarity by stepping away, referring to yourself in the third person, practising self-reflection, and finding clarity through someone else’s eyes.

Students self-assessed psychological challenges of getting outside comfort zone

Extended Learning

  1. Procrastination: Tim Urban- Inside The Mind Of A Master Procrastinator
  2. Acting to customise your behaviour: Amy Cuddy- Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are
  3. Seeking clarity in own situation: Dale Carnegie- How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

Author: Dr Crystal Tsay