by Tracy Goodwin
Most people who believe they are not effective communicators, believe that because they have fear related to communicating with others and presenting information to others. The first thing you have to do to be an effective communicator is get past your fears or blocks as I call them. So, how do we get past our fear of communication? First, we have to figure out what the blocks are. We have to address them one by one, determine if they are rational or not and then set out a strategy to get past them. One of the biggest fears that people have is “what will people think of me”. One of the best answers I ever received when I asked the question, “what do they think of me” was, “they don’t”. What I mean by this is that half the time, what we think people are thinking, well, they aren’t, they are busy thinking about themselves. So, if that’s the fear, let it go. Figure out what you want, how to say it and say it. Truth is, you deserve to get what you want also. Now, granted, some things you just should not say, but when it comes to stating your truth, you need to say it, diplomatically and with confidence.
But, the truth of the matter is, for many people, including myself for many years, it can be paralyzing. It’s a true case of “easier said than done”. So, what is the solution? Well, teach my clients to get past the dings and run to the victory box, which becomes full little by little I as you have communication victories. I refer to bad communication experiences as dings. The time you said what you thought and got yelled at or even worse, all kinds of scenarios, all kinds of communication experiences that are negative can fill up the ding box. Almost everyone has “communication dings”, some more than others. The more you have, the lower your self-worth is apt to be which hinders you from speaking up. We’ve been dinged in the past, shot down, yelled at, made fun of, ignored or worse, these are the dings. It really doesn’t matter if we have great communication experiences as well, human nature is to focus on the dings will be the first thing we see, the go to’s we always remember when we prepare to say something. Most of the time, the dings keep us from saying anything, communicating what we want, with confidence. But, never fear, the victory box is here! What is the victory box you ask? It’s my concept of positive communication experiences. I encourage each one of my clients and you as well to make a mental note of your communication victories. Each time you make a request, state a need, an idea, anything, anything you communicate and you do it well and you get your desired outcome, or maybe you don’t get your desired outcome, you still put the communication experience in the victory box. If it’s really hard for you to speak to someone or ask for something, or share an idea, you just try it, with a baby step. It might turn out exactly as you want, it might not, but the fact that you put it out there is a huge victory in and of itself, so you must recognize the victory.
It’s essential to celebrate that experience, it’s a victory. What happens then, you’ve got a box of positive experiences to draw from for the next time you need to communicate something and you’re afraid. So when you automatically go to the fear, remember the victory and that will give you the confidence you need to state your truth. Little by little, the victories will add up and outweigh the negatives. In fact, they may not ever outweigh the negative, but, you will begin to go to the victory box experiences first and little by little forget about the dings.
I’ve seen this technique be a huge success for all of my clients, give a try and see what you think. The goal, getting you to a place where you can freely, without fear, communicate your needs, thoughts, wants, dreams and ideas, EFFECTIVELY.
The next step is what most people neglect to do, and that is put the communication victories they experience in what I call, “the victory box”. It’s a mental, imaginary box where your victories reside, where you communicated effectively and it was not a disastrous outcome (like you thought it was going to be). When your nervous to communicate your thoughts, ideas, desires, you need to draw on, remember the victories in the victory box, they will give you the confidence to move forward and ask for what you want.
In the beginning, you might be nervous, take baby steps, don’t take on the meanest, toughest person in the office, start with the safe people, saying what you want, need, ideas you have. When they are well received, celebrate them, put them in the victory box and then little by little take on greater communication challenges. In a short amount of time, you’ll be communicating effectively your wants, needs, ideas and beyond.
Tracy Goodwin is known all over the world as “The Red Sweater Lady” for her extensive collection of communications videos. She has a masters degree in corporate communications and works with clients all over the world via Skype to help them improve their voices and speaking/non-verbal communications and presentation skills. Her client base encompasses people from every walk of life, from actors to Fortune 500 executives. At age 12 she won her first speaking award, and feels that she’s very fortunate today to be able to do what she loves.