Make Some Changes to Give Yourself More Confidence When You Talk

If you have an important negotiation coming up or will be meeting with an important client (or important potential client), you may start feeling anxious. The situation, the subject or the person may make you a little nervous. Don’t let that stop you from making the most of the conversation and making it a success.

An article in the Muse has some ideas on how to control these emotional reactions.

What’s the problem? Fear.

Call it what you like. Anxiety, butterflies, nerves, discomfort? It’s really fear. This ancient feeling we used to get to help us avoid being eaten by bears or lions is now interfering with your rational thought processes. What, exactly, are you afraid of?

We’re all unique so your particular hang up in a given situation is up to you to find out. You may be anxious because you feel you’re not up to the task, you feel inadequate and fear failure. You may have had a similar conversation in the past that went poorly so you fear a similar interaction this time.

Perhaps the fear is not about the situation, the subject or the other person. It’s about you and how you will respond.

Fact or Fiction?

Though some of us are more rational than others, generally we operate based on our “gut” feelings, fears and instincts. Take a time out and prevent your fear and imagination from running amok. Think just about the facts. Before this lunch with a potential client maybe you’re afraid you’ll do or say something stupid and embarrass yourself. He or she might ask a question you can’t answer, and you fear to look unprepared or ignorant.

Prepare and Practice

Now that you’re honest with yourself and have gotten a grip on the source of your fear, do something to reduce it. Prepare yourself for the meeting or conversation to reduce your fears. The game plan the conversation, try to think ahead as to what will be discussed. If it is possible, prepare for the meeting with a colleague and do some role-playing. When the meeting happens, and something doesn’t go as planned, you’ll have ways to adapt already planned.

Body Language

Most of the messages we receive from others are non-verbal, including tone of voice and body language. If your shoulders are hunched, and you’re looking down, you appear to others as being unsure of yourself, and you’ll be sending that message to yourself. Try to project calm and confidence. Stand up straight, make eye contact, use a firm handshake, don’t fidget and maintain calm, restrained hand and arm movements when talking.

Think about your body language in everyday interactions. Practice this “important meeting” demeanor when talking to colleagues, your babysitter or the person fixing your car. This way you’ll have the hang of it when you have that big meeting with that important person.

Perhaps you should treat everyone, including yourself as if they’re important. Maybe the best way to make this stressful meeting a success is to build your confidence by considering it as a meeting of equals.

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