“I am not complaining, It’s constructive criticism!”
Have you ever heard that statement and then had someone pick you apart like a vulture picking the last bits of meat off a corpse? Sorry for the disgusting visual but that is what it feels like sometimes. You cannot defend or fight back can you? This wonderful person is taking time out of their insanely busy day to try and help lil’ ‘ol you. “Help” like this is actually very stupid and destructive and if you put up with it, it can destroy your life. If you are a person who does this, it will also destroy any chance for happiness and make those around you miserable. How can you tell the difference between dumb, destructive complaining and wise complaining? Watch for these words and phrases:
1. “I’m telling you this for your own good.”
I find it amazing that someone will assert so strongly that their critiques of you are for your own good when you and they both know they are tearing you down. Notice that when someone complains to you like this, they give you no solution to the problem they have just introduced. It is just nasty criticism.
2. “Your problem is….”
Your problem is that person who continually tells you what your problem is. As if they know! This statement is extremely destructive because it both invalidates the person on the receiving end and tells them what they should be thinking and doing. It is a lousy and destructive control method and never fails to anger the recipient. Your problem is only and ever what YOU decide your problem is. That is, if you decide that you even have a problem. End of story.Advertising
3. “Only your close friend would tell you…” (followed by something negative and catty).
Warning! Danger! If you start considering the person who tears you to pieces a “close friend” you may as well start digging your grave with a teaspoon. I hate to dump this on you, but there are people in life who do not wish you well. Whether it is due to jealousy or control issues, these people can approach you in what appears to be a helpful fashion and try to get close to you only to manipulate you for their own gains. If someone continually tells you negative things that “only your close friends will tell you” take a closer look at this person and decide whether they really mean you well.
4. “I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news but everybody thinks that your husband (or wife or child or friend) is (something negative) “
First off, the person telling you this is lying. They LOVE to be the bearer of bad news. Secondly why are they talking to you about it and not to your husband, wife, child, friend or whoever? In all likelihood, this information that “everybody thinks” is a lie they made up. Someone who is verbally attacking your family and friends is attacking you! They are trying to sow doubts in your head and if you let them, they can destroy your relationships.
5. “I know you just lost your dog but that’s nothing compared to what happened to me!”
Don’t you just love these statements? No matter how bad you are feeling, this person has ALWAYS had a worse experience than you and is ALWAYS ready to trot it out whenever you just need a friendly ear or a shoulder to cry on. At times,these folks seem to be out looking for nasty experiences or opportunities to be treated badly just for the purpose of one-upping you in the game of “Who has been more injured?” Life with this person is crammed with never-ending stories about how their poorly clipped toenail turned into gangrene, or how the cold they had last week was actually The Plague, until you are reduced to rigor mortis by boredom.
6. “So and so dresses so poorly. Seriously does she get her clothes at the Goodwill?”
There are so many things wrong with this statement that I hardly know where to start. First, why is he/she talking to you? Secondly, so the other person has different tastes. So what? Thirdly, has this negative person tried to get in communication and actually help this other person by just being a friend to her? What is the purpose of the communication? If it is anything other than help, it is stupid! If someone complains to you in this manner, advise them that it is not OK and you will not listen. They may bad mouth you, but they would anyway given the chance.Advertising
7. “I’d be so embarrassed if that were me. “
My friend Sally Nutter, on her radio show, once said that what a person who says this really means is, “I have been hurt and embarrassed so many times that I cannot confront the fact that you might be, too”. How can someone be embarrassed for you? It makes no sense! His hurt and embarrassment are not yours. Go be who you want to be and do what you want to do.
8. “I hate this job! It sucks!” (usually followed by an endless list of grievances).
Simple question: Why is this person there? And why is she talking to you about it? She should be doing something about it. Now, obviously ,we all have things that happen in our workaday lives that upset us and, momentarily, we can feel that the entire job is a sucky ball of suck, but a person who always feels that way and lets everyone know it in no uncertain terms is bringing the rest of the staff down. Steer clear.
9. “Everybody knows that so and so is a (racist, sexist, wife beater, baby eater, anything bad).”
Harmful lies spread about people to others is not a light matter. These lies ruin relationships because they are difficult to detect and because the person telling them works very hard to remain undetected. They can fester for a long time, with resultant upset and turmoil. When someone tells you something negative about another person, check it out for yourself. If someone with whom you have been in good communication suddenly becomes cold and distant, suspect harmful lies in the background and start sniffing them out. Find out who is saying it. One person spreading falsehoods left undetected and unrestrained can ruin an entire office of workers or a family by setting them at each others’ throats and sitting on the sidelines watching the fun. It is evil, and my advice is to expose them before they take you all down.
10. “I hear that we are all going to be laid off (or some other gloomy statement) and there is nothing we can do about it.”
I once had a client who, unfortunately, was housed in the same office with me and my staff. Every day he was in with my staff telling them how bad things were and that the layoff notices would be here soon. Each time I heard it, I asked the people who made those decisions whether they were true. They were ALWAYS false. When someone carries bad news like a mosquito carries malaria, followed by the statement “…. and there’s nothing we can do about it,” get them out of your space. You can ALWAYS do something about anything! Anyone who consistently brings that message is a loser. He or she is trying to get agreement on the uselessness of action. This comes from a certainty of his own uselessness. If he cannot change his tune, move him out.Advertising
11. “I don’t care how bad it was, you deserved it!”
Ouch! I don’t even have to go into why that one does nothing to help anyone. While there are a few Hitlers and Goerings on the planet today, the vast majority of people do not deserve to be hurt. People are trying their best to survive and many of them are trying to help others survive. There are far more good people than bad ones, and we all deserve a little compassion, even when we have strayed.
12. “What you did to me was so bad that it can never be remedied.”
There are some things that are very difficult to forgive. But, there are some not-so-bright people who make a career out of nursing grievances so that they can manipulate others through guilt. This is stupid and destructive. When someone holds a grudge and yet keeps coming around you, you have to wonder why . It is likely that they are trying to control you by making you guilty of some horrible crime which generally turns out to be not a crime at all but some little thing that person has amplified into a mortal sin. If you were to look at the results of the actions of a person like this, you would generally find his actions are far more harmful and destructive than whatever this person is holding over you.
13. “I know I am calling at 2:00 A.M. but if you were a real friend you wouldn’t mind.”
Really? The only urgent things that merit a call at 2:00 A.M. are loss or illness of a loved one, suicidal thoughts, personal illness or “Hey! You just won the lotto!!” Anything else can wait. There are many, many people who suffer the tortures of the damned all night long, alone, because they don’t want to wake you. Others seem to think that whenever they are upset for whatever reason, you are supposed to share their misery no matter how inconvenient it is for you. Arguments with husbands or boyfriends, rude waiters, and slights by the boss are not 2:00 A.M. calls in my book.
14. “Why should you care that he was mistreated? It didn’t happen to you!”
People who are intelligent and sane naturally care about whether other people are treated fairly and are doing well. When someone doesn’t care, it signifies not only a lack of intelligence with regard to understanding human behavior, but also a lack of responsibility for his fellow man. Even very young children feel empathy and concern for others’ happiness and well being.Advertising
15. “I hate myself!” (Or any negative remark that a person makes about herself).
Someone who speaks negatively about herself is saying that she has been pounded down and made less of so much that she now believes that this is truth. The person is not dumb but the complaints she is making ARE. Most people do not like to hear negative things about good people even if the negative things are being said by the person herself.
Ask yourself, have you ever made the above complaints? If you don’t want to be a dumb complainer any more, stop making these complaints.
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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