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7 Things To Remember If You Love A Person Who Fears Public Speaking

7 Things To Remember If You Love A Person Who Fears Public Speaking

When I watch someone I care about, who has a fear of public speaking, give a speech, I suffer too.

The fear of public speaking can be a challenging fear to cope with. And not just for the people who suffer from the fear, but also for those of us who are standing in the wings supporting the sufferer.

It’s emotionally draining. It’s mentally taxing.

And it can be uniquely frustrating. Because it is the kind of fear that can be avoided — buried, ignored, forgotten. Avoiding situations where you are forced to speak in public is not particularly difficult. And because of this, when we see a loved one put themselves in a position where they are speaking in public and struggle through the experience, a part of us is proud and another part is thinking: why are you bothering?

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Here are seven things to remember if you love someone who suffers anxiety from public speaking.

1. The fear of public speaking is very common

For 30% of Americans, public speaking is their worst fear. Think about that. Nearly 1 in 3 Americans have a significant fear of public speaking. This is a common, everyday fear that many, many people share.

It does not feel the same stigma as other fears because it is so common. It doesn’t get the same attention, despite its prevalence, because avoiding public speaking is relatively easy.

For some sufferers, however, public speaking is something they need to do. Perhaps their job or career requires it. Perhaps they simply cannot let the fear go untamed. Regardless, they meet the challenge head-on. Presenting when you fear public speaking is uncommonly brave.

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2. This fear is hardwired deep inside our “Lizard Brain”

The fear of public speaking is a natural, human reaction. It is, in fact, the result of our evolution as a social species.

We fear rejection by the group because being cast out of the tribe in primitive times meant certain death. As a consequence, we are hardwired to seek social acceptance. Standing in front of a group and putting yourself out there threatens that. We all suffer from this fear to a lesser or greater extent.

3. It is not about just needing to relax

Stress and adrenaline are synonyms for physiological arousal, which is actually a good thing. It gets us going. It is needed for peak performance.

Sufferers of public speaking anxiety struggle to control and contain their reactions to this physiological arousal. The major sources or triggers of speech anxiety are:

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  • Lack of preparation
  • The fear of making mistakes
  • Concerns about appearance
  • Projections about a lack of audience interest, and
  • Lack of previous experience public speaking

Taming the anxiety of speaking in public is not really about relaxing. It is about developing coping skills, particularly coping skills targeted at these key triggers.

4. Sufferers are aware that their fear is sometimes irrational

Being aware of how irrational their reactions to public speaking are does not, in and of itself, stop the adrenaline from pumping. Of course, if it was simply a case of realizing that they shouldn’t be nervous or afraid, then millions of people would not suffer from this fear.

Because of this, pointing out the fact that the fear is irrational, or that a sufferer doesn’t need to be afraid, doesn’t help.

5. Sufferers are grateful you care – they are just not interested in your advice

That doesn’t mean that sufferers do not appreciate or benefit from your concern. Compassion, understanding, presence, and support are all hugely helpful. But advice on what to do or how to cope, more often than not, misses the mark.

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If you feel a need to be more actively engaged, focus on supporting the sufferer to cope with the key triggers of anxiety, such as a lack of preparation or a lack of practice and experience.

6. The anticipation of speaking can be as bad as the speaking itself

For sufferers of public speaking anxiety, the run-up to the speech itself can be when anxiety levels are at their peak. Sufferers can be at their most vulnerable and most anxious before the public speaking event even starts.

Often, the moments right before a public speaking event are where you can help the most by providing companionship, distractions, or by just being there.

7. Facing the fear is tough – and this is how it is overcome

At the end of the day, giving a speech when you suffer from a fear of public speaking is a particularly brave act. There are steps sufferers can take to learn to cope with the anxiety (adopting the right mindset, preparing well, visualizing success, humanizing the audience). But, ultimately, facing the fear is how the fear is overcome.

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Last Updated on January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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