I was born with more writing sense than oral expression. When it comes to speaking, my lack of eloquence constantly goads me, often rendering me spineless. I sometimes wonder if this underdeveloped talent is the reason for my lack of published works. You know, sort of a self-fulfilling prophesy: if I publish, I might have to speak to people, so I give less effort, and thus I never get published.
I talked to my friend about this the other night. She suggested I take less threatening opportunities to learn how to express myself right now, while I get my novel on paper. I nodded, and told her that is good advice, all the while knowing that forcing myself to talk in intimate settings, impromptu, would cause me to stutter and go blank inside my head, never to get to the point of the multitude of words roiling around inside me. Why can’t I ask questions in a lecture or during a lesson at church? Why do I remain silent most of the time? It’s like lacking a tongue.
I’m told my problem is a self-esteem issue, although, if you get me behind a pulpit after I prepare a speech or lesson, I can present an air of articulateness. It’s the springing of an unrehearsed speaking engagement upon me that is another matter.
So what options do I and others with this stigma have to increase our abilities? I researched the topic and came up with these helpful pointers:
Decide to Confront, Face, and Defeat the Obstacle - Unless we are committed to doing the things that will help us improve, we probably never will. We must remind ourselves that a little discomfort now, will help us defeat the problem in the future.
Practice - According to authorities on the subject of shyness, my friend was right. Searching for opportunities to challenge ourselves will help us improve. Practice relaxation and breathing techniques. Think calm thoughts. Talk about the things we’re passionate about and use personal experiences to help our conversations along.
Focus Elsewhere - Having low self-esteem tends to make us think about our fear. If we can turn the conversation to the other person, be genuinely interested in what they have to say, it may help us push fear to the back of our thought processes.
Be Mentally Prepared - We should start rehearsing in our minds what we might say in different situations. Obviously we can’t think of all that will occur, but analyzing our feelings ahead of time may help us over the hurdles when forced into difficult situations.
Start a Success Diary - No matter how small we think our successes are, we can write them down and remind ourselves how we managed each victory.
Becoming more assertive may take time to accomplish, but if we desire to improve, practicing the above techniques may help us find our voices again.