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7 Tips To Handle Naysayers

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7 Tips To Handle Naysayers

For the original full-length article by Celestine: 7 Tips To Tackle Naysayers in Your Life

quote-Mahatma-Gandhi-first-they-ignore-you-then-they-laugh-at-42

    “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

    Are there any naysayers in your life? Someone who is perhaps discouraging you from pursuing your goals and dreams? Someone who is keeping you from achieving your highest potential?

    I have faced my fair share of naysayers.

    One of them was my junior college form teacher. She would discourage me and my classmates from aiming too high in life (by too high, I really mean trying to aim anything at all). She also pre-judged each student based on her biased assessment of his/her abilities, then treated the student as such, hence creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Rather than encourage us as a teacher, she was often a wet blanket, telling us to opt for pragmatic courses and career paths than set big goals and dreams.

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    Then, when I decided to quit my corporate job in 2008 to pursue my passion, everyone said no. A close friend said I would regret it in the future. Another friend asked if anyone said I was crazy. People, personal mentors and friends alike, advised me against it. Some said that economic recession was coming soon. Some said that my then corporate job was fantastic and that I would never get such a great job in the future. Some said that I was too young and didn’t have the right skills and know-how to achieve results in my new path. Some said that I was wasting my previous education and my career path.

    For all the naysayers I faced in the past, I never heeded their words. Funnily, none of their pre-cautions came true. I went on to achieve every single goal I have set out for, and more. It was almost as if they were just projecting their personal fears and issues onto me.

    If you are facing naysayers, I want you to know that your life is yours and you don’t need other people telling you what to do. Here are 7 tips I have for you to deal with them:

    1. Safeguard your goals from them

    Imagine you’re trying to create a beautiful, grand sandcastle at the beach. Now, imagine someone pouring water on top of your castle every 1 minute. Will you be able to build anything in the end?

    No of course not. Each time you get anywhere, your creation gets demolished instantly. At most you’ll end up with some clumpy looking lump and a very frustrated you. All the efforts you’ve put in have gone to waste.

    That’s the same thing when you listen to the naysayers. Being discouraging and skeptical in nature, they tend to talk about the downsides and horror stories of the “dangers” surrounding what you plan to do. Every second you spend listening to what they have to say about your goals is just like pouring acid over your dreams. In the end you have to spend extra time and effort to combat the damage they’ve done. It’s not even worth it in my opinion.

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    Your goals are too precious to let other people taint them. Protect them. Don’t give naysayers the opportunity to damage your dreams by not even raising the topic in the first place.

    2. Eject the naysayer from your life (if you can)

    If possible, eject the naysayer from your life. Generally naysayers serve as a shroud over life’s possibilities, so spending too much time with them is only going to limit your own potential.

    3. Evaluate the naysayer’s background

    One thing I look at before I consider anyone’s words is how the person is doing in his/her own life. Is this person’s life the kind of life I want to have for myself? Does this person have knowledge and expertise in what he/she is commenting on?

    If the answer is no, then I’ll discount what he/she says. After all, this person is where he/she is precisely because of his/her own knowledge and advice. By following his/her words, it can only get me to where he/she is, not where I want to go.

    4. Ignore them – Tune out

    If you’ve evaluated the naysayer’s words and concluded that these are not relevant to your goals, then simply tune out. Just because they say something, doesn’t mean you have to take what they say. As Buddha has said before, if someone offers you a gift and you decline it, the gift is still that person’s. Likewise, if someone wants to offer you their 2 cents, you can’t stop them from doing that, but you can choose not to accept it.

    5. Don’t engage in the discussion

    The naysayers are as staunch in their stance as you are in yours, and there’s no need to seek any agreement too.

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    In your replies, keep it simple and short – with “I see” or “Okay”.

    Don’t assert your stand, don’t try to probe why he/she said what he/she said, don’t try to explain yourself either. The naysayer can come up with all sorts of reasons why he/she is right and why you’re wrong, which is just a waste of time.

    Switch topic if you have to. With nothing to continue on, the naysayer will stop there. Also remember tip #1 – make a mental note to safeguard your goals from them in the future.

    6. Surround yourself with enablers

    Rather than face negativity, surround yourself with positivity instead. You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, so choose the best five people you want to spend time around. In Day 19 of Live a Better Life in 30 Days Program: Create Your Success Network, we work on building our success network of five, which are the five people whom we want to emulate in real life.

    Think about the people who are supportive or would be supportive of your goals if you told them. Think about how you can increase the time you spend with them starting from today.

    If you don’t have any such people in your life, it’s okay. Think of the people out there in this world who are doing what you want to do, then increase your contact with their works, such as their books, their interviews, their TV shows, and so on.

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    7. Think back to your vision for yourself

    Last but not least, think about your ideal vision. What is your ideal vision for your life?

    Whenever you get distracted by naysayers, it’s only because you’ve taken your eyes off your goals. If that’s the case, all you need to do is to look back at them. Recall what exactly you want to achieve. Think about what exactly you want to get out of your life. Then ask yourself if it’s worth it to put them on hold because of a couple of naysayers.

    Final Words

    Don’t deny yourself of the life you should live just because of naysayers. At the same time, make sure you’re not being a naysayer to others.

    Here’s my favorite quote by John Eliot:

    “History shows us that the people who end up changing the world – the great political, social, scientific, technological, artistic, even sports revolutionaries – are always nuts, until they are right, and then they are geniuses.”

    Are you ready to rock your life? Let’s start living our best life starting from today :D

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    This article is also available in manifestoweb lecture, and audio podcast formats.

    Be sure to check out How To Say No To Others: The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need to learn how to say no to others.

    More by this author

    Celestine Chua

    Celestine is the Founder of Personal Excellence where she shares her best advice on how to boost productivity and achieve excellence in life.

    42 Practical Ways to Start Working on Self-Improvement 11 Reasons Why You Aren’t Getting Results on Your Goals How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity 5 Reasons Why Being a Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect

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    Last Updated on July 20, 2021

    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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    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:

    Warming up

    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:

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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.

    Stay hydrated

    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.

    Meditate

    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.

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    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.[1]

    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.

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    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.[2]

    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.

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    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:

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    • 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:

    Reference

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