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7 Quick Tricks To Overcome Your Nervousness

7 Quick Tricks To Overcome Your Nervousness

Picture yourself sitting on an airplane. You’re at 10,000 feet, sitting with your legs hanging in the air, the ground far below, the air whipping around you, a parachute strapped to your back and a loud man shouting from behind you to just jump already.

Nervous yet?

That’s an extreme situation, but nerves can strike in more everyday situations too like meeting new people, job interviews, a first date or an important meeting.

When nerves hit, you feel as though you’re not up to the challenge that you find yourself faced with and if you let them, they’ll have you turning back around, running away and hiding under the bed sheets.

The good news is that you don’t have to let your nerves call the shots—here are 7 ways to overcome them.

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1. Focus on Your Best

What are you like when you’re at your best? Think for a moment about the times when you’ve been at the top of your game, buzzing, flowing and feeling alive, then dive, swim and relish in how that feels.

Being at your best is about two things—bringing everything you are to the moment you find yourself in, and the absence of all the pesky fears, doubts and nerves that trip you up. That state of being at your best is always right inside you, waiting.

It’s pretty cool and when you get really familiar with how this feels you can bring it out at a moment’s notice. All it takes is a conscious, deliberate thought on your part to go there.

2. Follow Your Breath

Nerves are pernicious, sticky thoughts that spiral round and round in that wonderful brain of yours.  Once they’re spinning around, it’s really tough to get out of your head, return to the moment and get back in the driver’s seat. Your breath is one of the most powerful tools for getting back on track, so the next time the nerves hit, gently shift your focus onto your breath as it moves in and out of your body.

Don’t do anything with the breath, don’t force it or try to regulate it, just notice the full duration of the in breath, wherever you feel it in your body. Keep your attention on the breath, noticing the sensations in your body as you exhale, and even the momentary pause between the in-breath and out-breath.

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Your breath is a wonderful anchor to the present and, with a little practice, can cut right through your nerves.

3. Reset your Expectations

Your brain loves certainty and in an effort to try to be more certain about how things will turn out, it will create an array of expected outcomes.

These expectations will run the whole gamut between wonderful success and tragic failure, but, as it’s the more painful, negative expectations that threaten your safety, it’s those that your brain gives more focus to.

But they’re not real. They’re no more real than the Darth Vader bobble head sitting on your office desk. Once you realize you don’t need to dance to this negative tune in your head, sweeping away your expectations feels remarkably liberating.

4. Reassure Yourself

Nerves are really just stories about all the things that could go wrong; like screwing it all up, looking a fool or people thinking less of you. As stories go, they don’t have very happy endings, but in the end, they’re still just stories.

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Those stories don’t have to play out, so take a moment to reassure yourself. You’ve come this far and you’re still okay. You’ve faced challenges before and come through just fine. This will be okay too. You’ll be fine, whatever happens, you’ll get through it and live another day.

5. Normalize Rejection

Rejection sure feels nasty doesn’t it? As experiences go, it’s pretty awful, but that’s only because we’re wired to think that it’s “bad”. Truth is, nobody goes through life without rejection featuring in some measure, and a life spent avoiding rejection is a life spent unlived.

Fearing rejection will pile on the pressure and crank up those nerves, but what if rejection wasn’t so bad? What if it didn’t mean that you were less than or not good enough, but simply meant that it didn’t work out this time around?

Rejection is just something that happens from time to time, rather than something that diminishes your value.

6. Choose Which Thoughts you Honor

What do you hear in your head when the nerves hit? I can’t do this. This is horrible. I’m not good enough. What if I screw it up? I don’t want to be here.

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Familiar, right? If there’s one thing your brain’s good at, it’s making thoughts. It does it all day long, whether you want them or not. A thought about what you had for dinner last night, a thought about the room you’re about to nervously enter, a thought about that funny thing your friend said, a thought about how you might feel if you get it wrong.

They’re all just thoughts, and the thought that trumps them all is the one that decides which ones you trust and honor. Which ones are you going to listen to?

7. Practice More for Next Time

It’s true that the more you do something, the better you get. Whether it’s cooking the perfect piece of fish, running or playing the banjo, you always start from scratch, give it a shot, practice some more and get better.

Your skills and capabilities continually evolve and the more you practice, the more accustomed you get and the more effective you become.

So, when starting out with something that makes you nervous, be ready for the initial awkwardness and those rookie nerves, then seek out opportunities to practice, learn and grow.

More by this author

Steve Errey

Steve is a confidence coach who helps leaders build confidence.

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

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Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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