Feel uncomfortable?

Great, you’re on the fast track.

People at Work 275

Bodybuilders s sometimes recite the homily “No Pain, No Gain.” And, it’s true to some extent. But pain is actually a warning to stop what you’re doing because it’s injuring you. Discomfort, though, means you’re being pushed out of your comfort zone. And that’s where you grow – outside of your comfort zone.

One way to face – and endure – discomfort is will power; “I don’t care how scared I am, I’ll stand up and speak.” This is energy expensive, though – we only have so much will power any given day.

An alternate way is to hang around people who won’t let you back out. But it tends to make you hate the very friends who are helping you. This technique, too, works, though.

There is another way: pre-make your decision. That is, promise to “just say yes.”

The author flunked college courses to the point of suspension due to glossophobia – severe fear of public speaking.  Social Science classes required oral reports, debates and demonstrations. He’d prepare the talk, nervously walk to the classroom – then wimp out and leave; “Maybe next time, I’m not really ready today.”

During military service he depended on total memorization – if there was a question or other interruption to his briefing he’d have to start back at some known point, such as the beginning. Senior officers were not impressed.

Finally, and this was long ago and far away, he joined Toastmasters, but he knew he’d wimp out if he could. So he promised himself – and his mentor – that he’d simply never turn down an invitation to speak. It took away the stress of decision-making.

(That conniving mentor arranged to have him compete in speech contests by asking his mentee to take his place at the contest since “something came up.” The decision to speak had already been made, of course — no decision to make.)

During the last few years the author has competed in club, area, division and district speech contests and earned the Toastmasters’ Advanced Communicator Bronze award.

You, too, can overcome the biggest fear identified by adults in the United States — fear of speaking to a group. Exercise will power, depend on friends to goad you into speaking – or promise to never turn down an opportunity to speak.

Leave comfort behind and grow your speaking faster and easier – don’t turn down an opportunity to speak. Don’t even postpone it – ever!


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