Since I’m focused on helping introverts to step up for themselves, I’ve noticed that many of them are struggling with speaking in public. This reminds me about how I used to be: quite shy, refraining to voicing my opinion even in small groups of people I know, my voice was trembling when someone paid attention to me speaking, allowing others to step into my personal space when I needed the most was to be by myself.
That was before I start taking baby steps to get out of my comfort zone, like facilitating workshops. I still remember the full spectrum of emotions while heading down the street to the organization that accepted my workshop to help their clients: my palms were sweating, all kind of thoughts marching in my head (Who am I to do this? I’m just started, am I competent enough?, What if …?) The courage to do the workshop came from that inner force that wanted to be unleashed, to voice my ideas and help other people. I guess that inner force was there all the time, but I really noticed and paid more attention to it after using coaching on myself (to remove negative emotions from previous experiences and those limiting beliefs that were holding me back). I’m designed and facilitated many workshops since, my confidence increased, and I ended up even enjoying it.
Since I love analogies, I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned from public speaking that could be applied to improving both personal and professional relationships.
1. Be authentic
No matter how much you try to please others, if you don’t bring yourself out, you’re projecting a wrong image about who you are. Some questions to ponder: How would you like to be perceived, as the real you or a fictitious person that you(unconsciously) made up? How long could you play that fictitious role without being caught? How could others understand who you are and what you think, if you don’t make the effort to speak up and show up as who you really are? As the saying goes: “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” 🙂 That’s how people can really connect with you.
2. Let go your fears
Fears might haunt you before speaking in public, or even when you speak, but you need to let them go and focus on your message. Our mind is so used to go into negative and focus on fears, so we need to make an extra effort to stay focused on the message instead of our fears. Practicing your speech in advance really helps. Same in relationships: Do you fear that you’re not understood? Not loved enough? Or you’re not good enough for your professional role or partner? Let those fears go and focus on what you really want to say or do. Let yourself express in that way, not to be blocked by yours fears.
3. Get curious
Asking questions is a great way to engage your audience, to get feedback and see if your assumptions are true. It makes others feel good to know that their voice is important. This is true for personal and professional relationships, isn’t it? For introverts, it’s even more important because it can give them the courage to get out of their comfort zone and feel less stressed at events where they are surrounded by new people. Plus, asking questions brings more perspectives into our awareness that helps us get a better understanding of what’s going on and what else we can do. For introverts challenged by small talk, Minister Faust has a great TED talk on how to master it.
4. Listen to the audience
Yes, we need to listen but in a deeper way! Besides hearing the words, we need also to pay attention to the emotional field (what we perceive with through our senses). It might give you a different signal than the projected words or ideas and helps you handle that specific situation in a more skillful ways. Is tension starting to build up? Is it too quiet? Too emotional? Embarrassing? The emotional field informs us about what’s ready to unfold. By being aware of these signals, you can help the process (if you want to) or redirect it to somewhere else (if you don’t like the unfolding direction). And yes, deep listening includes also paying attention to what others are saying, not just the voice in your head when they’re talking. The “audience” could be your potential client, your partner … you name it! 🙂
5. Have an intention and plan accordingly
As a public speaker, you set yourself an intention or objective for a certain speaking engagement, and you start planning and aligning your actions accordingly. It’s the same when in interpersonal relationships. For example, your objective could be to build a great life together with that special person that makes you feel happy, loved and appreciated. If you lose that objective from sight and get caught in the day to day life routine, and you might not continue to take the right actions … and soon you might find yourself out of the path you chose at the beginning (I’ll let you predict what the results could be in this case). The same for professional relationships, although the objectives might be different. 🙂
6. Be a giver … to a certain point (so important for introverts!)
A public speaker cannot know the reaction of his audience before he delivers the speech. She puts herself out there, gives first with an open mind, and reap the results (they might be different that expected, but still good lessons to learn). Are you a giver in your interpersonal relationship? Or do you expect first? Here’s another question: are you giving yourself too much in a relationship, so you forget about who you are and your needs? Introverts can go over the board with giving if they don’t pay attention to replenishing their energy from time to time. Giving is a way to build great relationships, just don’t forget to get lost in the process.
7. Be flexible
Even if you deliver the identical speech to different audiences (which I don’t really recommend), I bet the experience is different! The audience and the interaction you have during the speech are so unique that you better know how to adjust to that situation! How flexible are you in your relationships? The person in front of you is different than you, I guess you know that by now! 🙂 But she/ he can also be in a different mood than before, so assuming you know how the person reaction might make you miss an opportunity. Appreciate the differences and don’t expect to be perfectly understood without some effort on your part. We are unique beings, with different backgrounds and ways of thinking, and we might think and act differently depending on the situation. So be open to discovering, be flexible and adjust if you want the most of your interpersonal relationships. Getting stuck in your own point of view doesn’t help your relationships.
In Organisation & Relationships System Coaching we consider that everyone is right, but only partially! (noticing things only from his/ her own perspective)
Results don’t come by themselves, let’s take some action. Please comment below which point got your attention, and how you can use it more to build great relationships.
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