FOF and FOMO in business

In 2013 the word FOMO was added to the Oxford English Dictionary. A pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent, the “fear of missing out”. With a constant real-time awareness through social media, this awful condition is the root cause of so much discontent in relationships across the globe and, as we all know, business is also a relationship, it too can become a problem here.

There is, however, a trump card of FOMO and that is FOF, the “fear of failure”. The two can go, very much, hand-in-hand. So learning how to recognise these signs when conducting a discovery meeting with a potential new client, could be the key to understanding whether this is a real opportunity or not.

Listening to the language of the person talking to you is the only way to establish this. And by the language I don’t just mean what they say, it is the whole package. Body language can reveal so much once you have become accustomed to reading it. This isn’t going to become a blog about whether the leg crossed over another is pointing in your direction or not so you don’t have to stop reading here, no this is about FOMO and learning to recognise it in yourself so that you can then see the signs in other.


  • Do you constantly check social media to get your gossip updates?
  • Do you have to know what’s happening in the news 24/7?
  • When you add a photo, do you judge its success by a number of likes you get?
  • If your best friend has been invited to another friend’s house for coffee, do you become paranoid about it?
  • Worse still do you also try to get an invite?
  • Do you have to have the latest gadget but don’t want to buy because something new is coming out?


  • Do you wait for others to try something first?
  • Do you have sleepless or restless nights before important events such as exams, public speaking, interviews?
  • Do you say no to a new date even though you kind of like them?
  • Do you get embarrassed at your children’s behaviour in public?
  • Do you stay with the status quo even though there’s good reason to try something different?

I’m sure you will be able to think of many more instances similar to this and now comes the tricky part. When you do this, and I know that nearly everyone does, can you feel the source of where these feelings come from? Is it in your throat, your tummy, your head, your legs. Do your facial muscles around your mouth contract, do you start biting your lips, does your brow crease up?

Look at yourself in the mirror and establish just what happens to you and then observe a close friend or partner and see how they react. Eventually, you’ll find some commonalities. When you’ve got these, you can now begin to use them in a business context. With the right questioning and most importantly, armed with this detailed listening ability you will quickly establish whether they have a real business need or whether they are suffering from FOMO or worse still FOF.

In business term:

FOF = They’re not likely to take the risk.
FOMO = They’re not likely to make a decision.