“If you want happiness for a lifetime, help someone else.” – Chinese proverb.
If you search Google on selfishness, the majority of entries will tell you that you have to be selfish to look after yourself and to succeed in life. You are ensuring that you are contributing to society and not a burden. It is a sort of natural selfishness and is closely related to our survival. It must take priority over helping others. Pretty harmless, you might think…
Then you will find entries on what is termed ‘bad selfishness’ where people exploit others, commit criminal acts to gain money or power by means of fraud, dishonesty and violence. Very nasty, you might shudder…
I have given two rather extreme examples above, but have you thought about more subtle ways in which you may have been selfish unknowingly? Here are 10 examples of the way selfish people behave and without even realizing it.Advertising
“Even six-year-olds who scream, ‘You’re selfish!’ have agendas.” – Rick Gaber
1. They are unaware of the imbalance in a relationship
Any healthy relationship has to have a near perfect balance. This goes for personal and work relationships. If people are all for taking and giving nothing back, then they are selfish and will be shocked when this is pointed out to them. In the workplace, that may be very difficult to broach when your colleague has been selfish in demanding help and giving nothing back. This could be never giving advice, support or performing actual hard work. This can have a terrible effect on staff morale.
2. They baptize their children with weird names
Whatever the reason, these parents are determined to go for something trendy or completely original. This is selfishness because they are not putting their children first: children who will be teased at school and suffer endless corrections of the pronunciation or spelling of the name, not to mention all the incorrect variations that will be floating around. It’s an example of selfish self-absorption and little thought is given to how the child will cope. There are mixed results from studies which might indicate whether the weird name is a handicap or not. A classic is the girl who was called Sue Yoo who become a lawyer!
3. They are nagged
“It’s good to be selfish. But not so self-centered that you never listen to other people.” – Hugh Hefner.
When nagging is a prominent feature in a relationship, it can only mean that the nagged partner is completely insensitive to the other partner’s needs. This can range from not tidying up to being forgetful. It also means that the guilty partner does not take into account their partner’s wishes. The partner who is doing the nagging may well be obsessed and this could be another aspect of selfishness as they are selfishly giving far too much attention to their obsessions and manias!
4. They do not bother to give negative feedback
Whether it is your partner, child or colleague, there is a tendency to gloss over negative feedback or not to give any at all. It may seem a charitable thing to do because you are not hurting the person’s feelings or destroying their confidence, however this is an act of selfishness because you are passing up an opportunity to help the person to improve and do better. Being nice in many cases is the short cut to popularity. In the long term, it could come back and haunt you if you have failed in your duty.
5. They are control freaks
People in management are sometimes control freaks. Their motto seems to be, “If you want to do it right, do it yourself.” Control freaks are usually perfectionists and they are convinced that they are the only capable people in a company or family. The strange thing is that they themselves believe they are benevolently keeping an eye out and are being genuinely helpful and concerned. The reality is that their behavior is selfish to the point of killing initiative, discouraging creativity or even delegating tasks.
6. They are manipulative
The other side of the coin of being a control freak. They are so fearful of losing their position of authority that they employ some nasty tactics. A classic example is where they will not consider a compromise. That means a loss of power. They use their manipulative skills to get the boss on their side. Then they will use tactics such as being perfectly charming while trying to find out information about colleagues and then subtly accuse others or discredit them. If you read Dr. Mary Casey’s book, How to Deal With Master Manipulators, you will discover many other examples of selfish acts.Advertising
7. They are the only people on the planet
How many times have we fumed against people blocking doorways, smoking when it is forbidden, talking loudly on the phone or acting selfishly when driving? These acts of selfishness happen all the time and are obvious manifestations of people thinking they are the only people on the planet.
There are other more subtle examples that we may be unaware of. What about people who may be engrossed with their iPhone and block the aisle on the plane, shop or train? Others get impatient when they do not get an immediate answer to their email. These acts of selfishness make life more difficult for everyone else.
8. They never clean their dog’s mess
When I visited Scotland last year, there were prominent notices saying, “Your dog, your mess, your £40 fine.” The next time you see a person ‘forgetting’ to clean up, ask them to take their dog’s mess home. It is their property after all! Civic duty is still sadly lacking in many areas and selfishness is all around us.
9. They hate team work
Selfish people are unwilling to share, give or brainstorm. They want to work alone because they are in a competitive environment but this selfishness will work against them if they are not careful. An ex-colleague kept a lot of information to herself because she was secretive and selfish. She never got the promotion she so desired and we could all see why.Advertising
I remember one of my first bosses who kept all his teacher training materials at home. Nobody else had access to them so we had to reinvent the wheel when running our own training sessions. I have never hated a boss so much! Giving and sharing are rare words in the selfish person’s vocabulary.
10. They rarely collaborate
It’s all about ego. They know what they want and they are always to the forefront to make sure they get it. When they see an obstacle they become defiant or refuse to collaborate. In addition, their refusal to give an inch is just a symptom of classic selfishness. After all, why should they bother to go out of their way to discover what people are feeling, their ideas, hopes and ambitions?
“I am thankful for all those difficult people in my life, they have shown me exactly who I do not want to be.” – Unknown.
Featured photo credit: Parking mayhem at Kota Kinabalu/ Jason Thien via flickr.comAdvertising
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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