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Does Communicating Make You Nervous?

If communicating your needs makes you nervous and want to avoid it altogether, take heart - this is a concern that is so, so relatable. In fact, it’s something that comes up with 100% of my clients, including myself. Nerves are a normal part of communicating because it’s an indicator that you care; you care about how you’ll do, how you’ll be received, the response you get, and on & on. The key is not letting being nervous stop you from speaking up and getting what you need. Nerves are a road bump, but we don’t have to let them become a sinkhole keeping you from your need or desire. Whether it’s a big ask – such as asking someone out, getting a raise, drawing a boundary - or a smaller one – such as getting directions, handling a wrong order, correcting someone on your name - here are some accessibly kickass strategies to overpower the nerves.

  1. Breathe Seem simple? It is! I lead with this strategy because it’s tried & true for a reason. Think about it this way - what happens to your body when you get nervous? Your muscles tense, your brain goes speeds up or shuts down, you get sweaty, your heart pounds, and on & on – all responses that make it harder to keep your cool and deliver. Giving yourself the gift of a deep breath before you open your mouth will do wonders. It will relax your body, slow down your mind, and reduce the panic you might be feeling. Still not sold? Take it up with Harvard. On a more direct level, it will also make sure your voice is louder when you do speak, compliments of your mighty diaphragm! When it’s time to speak, indulge yourself the extra 1.5 seconds it takes to take a gratuitously big inhale from your belly and exhale all that tensch’. Then inhale once more to fill up on that power, and Let Them Have It.

  2. Prepare For what is the opposite of preparation? Winging it? Hoping for the best? Improv? Sounds risky. Preparation doesn’t have to be too intense or rigid, it’s more about getting your head and intention to align with your words. Allow yourself to put some time, thought, and strategy towards what it is you really want to communicate, what you want to make sure is understood. As much as you can, keep it simple. Then practice - say it out loud. Does the thought of doing that make you uncomfortable? If so, that means you should do it more! If you get nervous saying it alone, it stands to reason the nerves will be worse in front of your intended audience, so get the solo-nerves out of the way to set yourself up for glory. Practice until it isn’t so scary. Practice until you hear the power in your voice. Practice until you hear what a reasonable request you’re making. Practice until you hear yourself and think “Ooh who is that confidant bitch?”

  3. Get Hyped Do whatever you need to do to enter this interaction with as much power and joy in your pocket as you can muster. This can include:

  • Play your Victory Song that makes you feel like the baddest mf’er on your respective coast. Mine include Bruno Mars’ Fly as Me, Anything Beyonce, or Eye of the Tiger (if I’m feeling classic.)

  • Re-connect with your strengths. Remind yourself of the hardest things you’ve done in your life. Have you: Run a marathon? Had a baby? Kept an orchid alive? Tell your victories back to yourself, because the Fact is This: You have successfully done things that are harder. THEREFOR you can do this.

  • Affirm your worthiness, in whatever language that makes you feel Titanium: I can do this, no problem. I deserve what I am asking for My Opinion is Valid.

4. Release Expectations

The reason we tend to get so nervous to communicate is often rooted in fear on the other persons behalf; fear of hurting them, how they'll respond or what they'll say. But the fact is, that is something you cannot control. So what can you control? Yourself and how you show up. That is the end of the list. In this rowdy world, all we can do is share our truth and open doors with trust that what’s meant for us can never be kept from us. This isn't saying that we shouldn't care about the people around us and their feelings; it can be hard to feel like you've hurt someone or let them down! But you can not control how they're going to react and therefore cannot let that impede you showing up for yourself. Do not let the nerves of things you cannot control keep you from speaking up when you know it's in your best interest. Take a deep breath and release the "what-if's" around the results and what you can't control and allow your focus to rest on communicating your truth and speaking your desires. Your needs matter, and you are your strongest ally and advocate - you will never regret speaking up for yourself.

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