We all experience a bit of anxiety before an important conversation. But left alone, it can drain your confidence more and more with each missed opportunity. Opportunities to influence an audience in a keynote; to demonstrate your value in a meeting; or to close a sale.
Each opportunity you have to speak up or speak out will result in either you building your anxiety or building your confidence. Which do you prefer?
If you’ve taken the first step [Name Your Fear], you are on your way to becoming a more confident speaker. You have started your archeological dig into what exactly you fear about speaking.
At this point you have laid your fears on the table like finds at an archeological dig. Now ready to understand how these stools are used. Just as an archeologist learns who, where, when, and how a piece of pottery was used in an ancient society, you must work to understand how your fears show up in your life.
Step 2: Get To Know Your Fear
Warning: gnarly monster ahead.
Here you face your fear like opening the closet door to look at the monster inside.
You and that ugly monster face to face – nose to nose (if it has a nose!)
Here is where you are more brave than the archeologist. What she has recovered from the earth is no longer alive. What you are facing is very much alive. But you must face it. You must study this fear. Grab your lab coat and clipboard it’s time to become a scientist.
Your assignment in this step is study your fear. Observe it. How does it shows up? Where does it appear? When does it appear and when does it NOT appear? What is the context and how do you experience it?
The important thing in this step is your perspective. Instead of being the subject that the fear is attacking, you now need to become the observer. By taking on the role of an observer in your own behavior, you can remove yourself from the situation and just observe and document your observations.
Take this one next step with no expectation to judge, manage, or change your fear. Just capture all the information you can about it.
Sometimes, just this step alone will begin to have a positive impact on managing your fear. As you recognize some of the assumptions you make in certain situations – you realize that they may not be true.
The work of observing the situations where fear rears it’s gnarly head can be difficult. It’s natural to avoid wanting to even think about why we fear public speaking. Taking the step to get to know your fear is often met with the survival instinct. It’s your inner child with hands on ears yelling “la la la la la” to try and drown out the voices inside your head.
We all face our fears differently. Sometimes you can catch yourself in the moment of fear and recognize as the observer that this is a situation that brings fear. But often, in the beginning of facing your fears, you need to talk it through and that is where your trusted advisor can help (contact me if you need an advisor.) She will help you to observe and to step outside the situation so that you can observe more, diving deeper into the context and challenging you to look under the bed or in the closet where your gnarly monster lives.
When you are ready, take the next step!