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How To Muster Your Confidence And Tell Someone You Like Them

How To Muster Your Confidence And Tell Someone You Like Them

My romantic history reads like Cliff Notes from all of Shakespeare’s tragedies. And most of his comedies. Not entirely successful then, with a smattering of jealousy, and rejection by the ladle full.

But hey, at least I give it a go, right?

Taking that first step and telling someone that you want to be more than “just friends” is about as scary as it gets, and those heart-thumping moments before you open yourself up can be enough to make you turn on your heels and flee.

Turning and fleeing aren’t conducive to a good relationship though (I’ve learned that), so here’s how to tell someone you like them in 12 simple steps.

1. Wait for the right opportunity

Asking someone out through the bathroom door or telling someone you like them during a business meeting aren’t the best way to go. To have this work, it’s best if you’re both relaxed and have a little privacy, and it’s a great idea if you’re both engaged in some kind of activity, whether it’s sipping a coffee, taking a walk, or seeing a show.

Think about when and where you’ll each be feeling good, then get to it.

2. Don’t wait for the right opportunity forever

There’s no such thing as the “perfect time,” and people miss all kinds of opportunities and moments because they’re waiting around for a time that’s just a “little more right.”

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Finding an imperfect moment to ask someone out is always better than waiting for a moment that never comes.

3. Take the drama out of it

Your heart thumps, your palms sweat, your stomach flutters, and adrenalin hits. It feels like a big deal, and all of the drama surrounding the moment you tell someone how you feel only adds more weight and pressure. Weight and pressure that you don’t need.

So lighten up a little and reassure yourself. The sun will rise again tomorrow. You’re not going to die. Whatever happens, this will be okay.

4. Don’t project forwards

Stories have been part of human culture for as long as we’ve been around, and you’re hardwired to spin them. They help you make sense of the world and everything in it, and it’s through the stories you weave that you figure out what things mean to you and how you react to them.

You might fall in love, get married, and grow old together. You might end up divorced and hating each other. What if you fall for them and they end up stamping all over your heart? What if you let them down?

None of these stories matter. They’re all fiction. What does matter is your next choice.

5. Take a look at your motivation

What’s the reason you want to tell them you like them? Is it because you get all lit up and fuzzy when you’re around them? Is it because you like who you are when you’re with them? Or is it because they give you validation that’s as moreish as chocolate brownies made of kisses?

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Don’t tell them you like them because of what they can give you. Do it because you want to share more with them, because you love who they are, and because you’re curious about what you could be to each other.

6. Accept that it will be uncomfortable

There’s no way to tell someone you like them without a little discomfort. The very essence of this means that you’re putting something on the line and taking a risk—and inherent in risk-taking is going out of your comfort zone.

So don’t beat on, or get hung up on feeling awkward or uncomfortable—it’s simply part of the process. Vulnerability requires discomfort, and that’s just as it needs to be.

7. Feeling nervous doesn’t mean you’re not confident

When those nerves kick in, it’s easy to believe that you’re not up to the task or can’t do it. The experience of feeling nervous takes over, and you forget all about the natural confidence you have in your bones.

But nerves don’t preclude confidence any more than wearing a size 42 shoe precludes you from going barefoot.

Those nerves mean you’re doing something new and something that matters, and trusting yourself to make a choice within that experience is confidence.

8. Share something that matters

A relationship is nourished through sharing. Sounds glib and overly simplistic, but it’s true. Perhaps especially so at the start.

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You can share something of yourself—a story, a hope or a passion. You can share something with them because it made you think of them—a book you think they’ll love, a place you think they’ll enjoy, or a song that brought them to mind. Or you can share a moment in time—a great view, laughing ’til you cry, or a moment of pure indulgence.

Sharing something that matters makes opening up feel natural.

9. How would the “confident you” do this?

In the moment you feel your confidence vanish, pause for a moment and ask yourself how that version of you who’s flowing, buzzing, at the top of their game, and firing on all cylinders would do this.

When you’re at your best there’s a sense of ease and flow that makes things so much more simple. You don’t question whether you can or can’t, you just do. You don’t question whether you should or shouldn’t, you just engage. You don’t question whether you’re good enough or worthy enough, you accept that you’re plenty.

That version of you at your best—the you who’s naturally confident—is always there. You just have to remind yourself from time to time.

10. Say, “Hey,” to the elephant in the room

Rejection. There, I said it! As much as you might not like to entertain the idea, and as horrible as the anticipation of it feels, it’s a real possibility.

The fact that someone might turn you down, say no to that date, or reject your advances is enough to stop many of us in our tracks. But you should always remember that their choices are theirs to make, and should they turn you down it’s not a judgment about your worth, it’s only about their tastes, their circumstances, and their story.

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Rejection is not the enemy. Not taking the risk to be rejected is what you should be scared of.

11. Don’t worry about the words

Ever wanted to say the perfect thing at the perfect time? Yeah, me too.

But just as there’s no perfect time, there’s no such thing as the perfect thing to say. You don’t need a Hollywood “You complete me,” “You make me want to be a better man,” or “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.” All you need is to trust the words that reach your lips—stutters, stumbles, stammers, and all.

12. Keep it simple

It’s tempting to engineer a place, time, or specific set of circumstances that will make telling someone you like them easy and natural, when in reality all of those thoughts and expectations just make things more difficult and complex.

So keep it simple. Don’t overengineer it. Don’t create a huge chain of dependencies that have to be true in order for you to say what you want to say. Don’t turn this into struggle with yourself.

A simple, “Hey, want to grab a coffee with me tomorrow?” might be all that’s needed, so be sure to choose ease and simplicity over struggle and complexity.

At the end of the day, there’s probably just one thing to ask yourself: Do you want to be the kind of person who turns away from possibility, or the kind of person who gave it a shot just because something amazing might happen?

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More by this author

Steve Errey

Steve is a confidence coach who helps leaders build confidence.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

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

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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