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Published on December 25, 2020

How To Express Yourself Authentically And Confidently

How To Express Yourself Authentically And Confidently

fHere are some words that have increased in use over the last decade: self-confidence, authenticity, speak your truth, badass. I could go on, but you get the picture.

Way back in the days when I was growing up, these were not words that were shared around dinner table conversations in most homes. Sure, my parents promoted positive self-esteem for me and my brother, but not in the way you see it plastered across social media today. In fairness, there was no such thing as social media when I was a kid (or adolescent, or young adult—that’s how old I am!), so things weren’t so “in your face” good or bad.

Anyway, the idea that someone, especially a woman, should express herself with confidence and authenticity was not as promoted as it is these days. Expectations around what was proper and acceptable prevented a lot of people from stepping into their true selves to express their authenticity. Fear of judgment or ridicule held some back because the thought of being embarrassed was far too hurtful than sharing the truth.

We’ve all been there in some way, shape, or form. These feelings still exist for a lot of us. And that’s because we weren’t encouraged or taught how to proceed with them in a way that didn’t feel arrogant or self-serving.

It’s no easy feat to walk into a room or to present yourself as confident and authentic. But it’s not impossible or all that difficult if you remember these three things: be relatable, vulnerable, and fearless.

1. Be Relatable

I’ve gotta say, one thing that’s really been eye-opening for me since I started my professional coaching practice is that when you present yourself in a way that is relatable and honest, you create more meaningful connections and relationships. Being able to relate to another person increases trust in your relationship, and it’s something you can do with everyone in your life.

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During the spring, my son was having a difficult time with virtual learning for school amidst the pandemic. He would argue and have tantrums because he was upset and didn’t really know how to express it. One day he was sitting on the couch crying because he missed his friends, his teachers, his school.

My typically joyful and playful boy was hurting and I needed to help him. Instead of telling him he had no choice and to suck it up and “go to school,” I sat on the couch with him and cried and told him that I felt the same way he did. I wanted him to see his friends, his teachers, and to go to school. In fact, I missed my friends and all of the great things we got to do before we went into quarantine.

When I showed him that I could relate to how he was feeling, we were able to talk it out peacefully and logically. We were able to connect in a way that we hadn’t before. After that, he was able to understand why sharing your feelings is so important and how expressing yourself can help you in certain situations. Win-win!

2. Be Vulnerable

Vulnerability is another popular buzzword you hear popping up into conversations a lot lately. Gone are the days of “fake it till you make it.” We’ve learned that by sharing our own personal stories, we will be more authentic and confident with the people in our lives.

Opening up and sharing intimate parts of your life can sometimes be difficult. Similar to relatability, it often requires having to get over a fear of judgment. But when you decide to completely expose your truth, there is power and relief that often accompany it.

Being vulnerable and opening up can be helpful to others.[1] It can also bring a wave of support and understanding from your support circle of friends and family. It’s harder to keep things bottled up, no matter what the situation is.

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Several years ago I was going through a really difficult time at work. The environment was extremely toxic, and it was taking a toll not only on my professional life but my personal life as well. For as hard as I tried to keep them separate, it was impossible to build a complete wall.

In my professional life, I was drowning in anxiety, anger, and depression. I didn’t want to go to work because of the stress I would physically feel in my body. My productivity declined when I was in the office because I was constantly on alert to the things that were going on around (and to) me. I could never relax and feel like I could let my guard down.

It was an awful experience, and yet because I had an image in my head of what my life was “supposed” to look like, I said nothing to my family or friends at home. I was too nervous about sharing my vulnerability with the people who could’ve—instead of being in the dark—supported me.

My actions backfired bigtime. I eventually burnt out from the stress of trying to manage it all alone.

Having my husband find me in a heap of tears on the floor of our bedroom essentially having a breakdown from the stress and anxiety was the beginning of me sharing my true story. It took being vulnerable and expressing myself to help me heal and make the necessary changes in my life I needed to get healthy and clear.

Because of it, I was able to face my fear and ultimately make decisions that would re-route my life in a direction that I could never have dreamed of for myself. By being vulnerable and sharing my story, I have been able to build a business helping others overcome their own fears and challenges.

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3. Be Fearless

Confidence isn’t something we are born with—it’s learned. For some of us, it takes a really long time to find true confidence For others, it comes easy.

Confidence is a product of your surroundings, your support system, and your belief in yourself. You create your own confidence, the same way you create your own happiness by surrounding yourself with positivity and optimism through education and making choices that feel good.

Some people call confidence fearlessness. Not being afraid to be different, to speak your mind, or to share your vulnerabilities with others and face your challenges head-on—that’s being fearless.

I have a friend who has been bullied his whole life. Even to this day, as a middle-aged adult, he experiences forms of bullying. He reached out to me to talk about it because while he’s grown into an extremely self-assured, confident man, he now wants to understand the reason why people bully others, especially as adults.

I told him during our conversation that he was being fearless in his pursuit to educate himself rather than retaliate—that his confidence was helping him to express himself in a way that would ultimately help not only himself but also others who have been in similar situations.

My friend has spent years educating himself and working on his fearlessness. He’s grown from the doubtful boy into the self-assured man his friends and family know and love. He’s overcome so many obstacles around self-worth, disbelief in himself, and anxiety that he is now a shining example of how to thrive.

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We hear the word “haters” a lot on social media—people who express negativity in a bullying sort of way. When you have the capacity to step into your power and shine regardless of what others think about you, you are fearless. Expressing yourself becomes easier because you can fully embrace who you are and when you do that, you will attract the people you need in your life.

Final Thoughts

Being able to express yourself authentically doesn’t come naturally for a lot of us. It takes work to get to a place where you can be comfortable with yourself, especially if you’ve been through difficult times. But if you allow yourself to open up and share your true self, your authenticity and confidence will shine right through.

Being able to be yourself can bring a sense of relief and calm. You might (probably will) go through some challenges along the way. But in the end, you will know a feeling that you have never known before, and that will make it all worth the journey.

More Tips on How to Express Yourself

Featured photo credit: Timur Romanov via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Krista Rizzo, CPC

Transformational Life Coach, TEDx Speaker, Author & Founder

The Most Effective Strategy To Resolve Conflict At Work How to Be a Good Listener (And a Better Communicator) How To Express Yourself Authentically And Confidently

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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