For many men, the most harrowing aspect of professional life is initiating an unpleasant conversation with a colleague, whether that means admonishing a subordinate, pushing back against a peer or standing up to a domineering boss. And trust us, you don’t want to be the office punchbag: in a study published in 2010, Moitra found that employees who can’t stand their ground are significantly more likely to wind up unemployed. So force yourself into the scrum, but remember that you’re dealing with a human being who has his own fears and motives. “If you can keep that person’s interests at heart, as well as your own, you will feel less anxious and the conversation will be more productive,” says Jana Morgan, a psychologist in private practice in Northcliff, Johannesburg.

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