“I get by with a little help from my friends.”
Could your friends say that about you?
We all need to support each other, especially our friends and family, and we need that support to be mutual. We must give and expect the following if we can count on them as friends:
- No fear of talking openly about emotions, moods and feelings.
- No reluctance to ask for help when needed. It can be a practical chore, advice or just someone to listen.
- No lack of empathy or trust.
Here are ten good reasons why we should be doing these things every day of our lives.Advertising
1. Because you are prepared to help when tragedy strikes.
I am going to take an extreme example for this one. In the South East Asia 2004 tsunami, thousands of Swedish tourists were involved. There were 2,000 Swedish deaths. Those who survived had to face post traumatic stress and the social support they received was an important factor in helping to reduce the negative impact of the suffering, pain, loss, and bereavement.
Friends and relatives played an important role. It is also interesting to note that the authorities were present too and met survivors at the airport and continued to support them. There was a correlation between the caring and helpful support they received and their recovery rates, it seems.
“Lean on me, when you’re not strong and I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on.”
2. Because you will tell the truth, even if it is harsh.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”
Can you give advice about a dangerous and rocky relationship which might lead to abuse? Very often, you have to stick your neck out and express your anxiety and worry. Your friend may not accept the advice at all, but whatever happens, you will always be there to support him or her. Telling the truth can often be hard, but it is the sign of a true friendship.
3. Because you will lighten the burden.
Talking about a problem is wonderful therapy. It can really assist you in coming to grips with it and help lighten the load. It may be a problem at work, a family quarrel or an argument with your partner. You can offer advice and support.
4. Because you are always positive.
Maybe your friend has ambitions about a new venture or wants to change his/her job. You do not say:
- “You haven’t got the experience.”
- “You wouldn’t stand a chance in hell—it’s far too competitive.”
- “It is going to cost you an arm and a leg.”
Instead, try to be positive and encouraging. You can tell him that you are aware of the problems, but shooting down an idea like that is not how real friends operate. The Bible of positive thinking and how to achieve life’s goals is The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. It’s no surprise to learn that it has sold 4 million copies.Advertising
The only way to get something you have always dreamed of is to do something you have never done. You can expect a reciprocal approach from your friend when you want to reach your goals and objectives.
5. Because you are accountable.
You know yourself well and you are not in denial about any defects you might have. You never play the blame game and try to defend a gaffe, a bad move or a screw up by blaming others or even to bad luck. You have no problem in being accountable for all your actions, including your mistakes. Your ability to show your friends compassion and empathy is living proof of all this.
6. Because you know how to nurture friendship.
“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Friendship is rather like a delicate plant. It needs watering, pruning and tender, loving care. You have to look after it. Try these to make sure it remains in great shape:Advertising
- Keep in touch.
- Remember important dates like birthdays and so on.
- Be thoughtful. Send a supportive text when your friend is down and out.
- Never exploit the friendship to gain money, prestige or other friends.
- Never give the impression that you know more or are superior.
- Never gossip about your friend to others.
- Celebrate successes and commiserate when failures happen.
7. Because you do not have exclusive rights.
Friendship is strange sometimes. Some people guard it jealously and allow no one else in. I remember twin sisters who lived together but had separate apartments. They agreed that they would invite each other when they had their friends to dinner. This happened on a regular basis, but the golden rule was that after dinner, the sister who was the guest had to leave before coffee was served. That left the other sister to chat away with her friends. When one sister broke the rule and stayed on for coffee, chatting merrily to her twin’s friends, there was a terrible row afterwards! Learning to share and not being possessive are prime qualities in a friend.
8. Because you will live longer.
All the studies now show that people who live in isolation die younger. They have more health problems and are at risk of heart disease and also mental disorders. Those people who have an active network of friends who are mutually supportive and loyal will live longer and also be healthier.
9. Because you never forget the small stuff.
You know when to be there if the going gets tough. A message, a phone call, or a visit are worth their weight in gold. That’s when you can tell whether you have a real friend. No excuses or procrastination.
10. Because you communicate with each other easily.
With real, supportive friends, you never have to worry about communication and how you are getting your ideas across, because these will come naturally. You both feel at ease about opening up and there is never any need for being assertive or aggressive. If there is ever any disagreement or argument, you are both mature enough to listen to each other’s opinion, without getting hot under the collar.
Are you helping your friends and getting enough support from them? Tell us about them in the comments below.Advertising
Featured photo credit: Amigas/Dani-vr via flickr.com
Last Updated on July 20, 2021
How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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:
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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:
- How to Give a Presentation Like a Pro
- 10 Tips for More Effective PowerPoint Presentations
- Tricks to Deliver an Impressive Presentation Every Time
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