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We All Have This Friend Who Is Really Truly Annoying

We All Have This Friend Who Is Really Truly Annoying
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I clamped my lips tight as I silently tracked the passing miles. We were on our way to a New Year’s Day Resolution Run and, as usual, my friend Christine talked and talked and TALKED – about herself.

She talked about how much training she had been doing. She talked about the extra gym classes she had taken. She changed tactics briefly and talked about her family… and if I remember correctly, she even paused momentarily to ask me a question.

That is Christine. She is both competitive and a talker.

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This was not news to me. Christine and I went to the same elementary, junior, and senior high school. Although we were not best friends, we did hang around each other. And a good part of the reason I limited my time with her was her tenacious habit of elaborating on her life down to every. last. detail.

Maybe you have a friend like Christine. Or one that clings desperately to you, gossips, steals your best ideas, talks on their cell phone constantly, brags about her Manolo Blahnik shoes and her brilliant kids, calls at supper time every night, or borrows your best sweater and brings it back with a pull in it. Whatever the offense, there comes a time when we consider calling it quits.

But before you pull the plug, here’s some food for thought:

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1. What Else Does She Bring to the Relationship?

Loyalty? Acceptance? Does she make your laugh so hard you pee yourself? Does she have your back? Can you tell her your deepest secrets and know for sure it’s locked in the bank. I know that what I tell Christine stays with Christine, and that means a lot.

2. Does She Help You Push Your Limits?

Does she encourage you to keep going when you think about quitting? Is she a champion of your skills and talents? Can you freely bounce ideas off her without fear of ridicule? Does she bring out your own competitive streak in a good way? When Christine and I spend time together, we’re doing stuff. Active stuff. And, I’ll admit it. I’m lazy. But with Christine, I will peddle the extra 5 miles, walk faster, and go outside in the freezing cold more often. I’ve done a sprint triathlon, a mud run, and a bunch of 5k runs, and it’s all due to the encouragement and support Christine gives me.

3. Does She Respect Your Boundaries?

Does she insist on getting together even though you desperately need some time alone? Does she allow you to choose the activities equally? Is she upset when you spend time with other friends? Is she just plain nosy? Is she okay if you suddenly have to cancel plans? Christine and I have known each other a long time, and she respects my need to occasionally disconnect or even cancel plans if I am feeling overwhelmed.

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4. Does Your Friend Keep You In The Real World?

Will she let you know if you are being an ass for no apparent reason? Will she answer honestly when you ask if your house smells like dog (yes, I’ve asked a friend this – and I hope she was honest!)? Does she yank your chain when you’re paying more attention to your cell phone than the parmigiana on your plate?

5. Can You Solve the Problem with Honesty?

Sometimes a simple but direct heart-to-heart-talk (handled lovingly) will make your friend aware of the situation and how much it bugs you. Conversations might be best opened using “I” or the sandwich technique. As in “I’ve decided this is the year I stop lending my books” or “I work so much harder when I’m biking with you, but I feel as if I am always supposed to compete. I prefer when you encourage me to do my personal best.” Or, you could just do what I did. When Christine started jabbering about her 6 mile walk again, I threw myself on her in a big hug, and jokingly remarked, “Oh, I know you’re Superwoman.”

6. Are you Under the Impression That You, as a Friend, Are Without Flaw?

Hahahaha…. Oh. I mean, really? As sanctimonious a friend as I can be, even I’m still aware of the annoying traits I possess. I’m whiny. And as mentioned before, I can be lazy. Combine the two and it’s a wonder Christine doesn’t use a whip to get me going. I can also be quite a grumpy friend without any apparent reason. So, if you are indeed a sterling model of friendship, then read on and make your final decision.

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Finally, 6 questions to help you process the decision:

  1. Are you still annoyed hours or days after you’ve spent time together?
  2. Does she make you feel unimportant or an after-thought?
  3. Is she constantly taking advantage?
  4. Are you a better person with or without her?
  5. Is her life a hot mess and she’s determined you go down with her?
  6. If your friend were no longer in your life, would you feel a void (answer this question when you are NOT annoyed)

Human nature dictates that we are all going to get annoyed at the people closest to us from time to time. With some it simply happens more frequently than others. A look at the big picture can sometimes remind us why it’s good to stick around.

Featured photo credit: Annoyed/Feliciano Guimarães via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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