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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 February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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