Fears limit us more than anything else. They prevent us from meeting new people, strengthening relationships, moving ahead in our career and achieving financial abundance. While the internet and social media give us the opportunity to communicate with thousands (and potentially millions) of people without ever speaking a word, this path isn’t always the best one to go to reach your goals. This is especially true when trying to overcome communication fears.
So what kind of communication fears do people have? Well the biggest social fear is undoubtedly public speaking. Let’s face it; it can be scary to be up on stage in front of hundreds of sets of eyes gazing upon us scrutinizing our every move and word. The next big social fear is meeting new people. If you have any degree of shyness, you can probably relate to that nervous feeling that we sometimes get when we’re in an unfamiliar setting surrounded by strange faces. Other social fears involve asking: asking for help, asking someone out on a date, asking for a sale, asking for a promotion, etc…. Sometimes, having difficult conversations such as dealing with a sensitive issue or providing constructive feedback can be, well, difficult.
So what can you do about it? There’s actually a pretty simple formula for dealing with communication fears. Now keep in mind, while the formula is simple, it’s not always easy to overcome a communication fear. There will be plenty of sweat and even some tears, but most of us have nothing physically preventing us from overcoming our communication fears. So here’s the process:
Step 1: Acknowledge and identify your fear.
Ask yourself what you’re afraid of and why you’re afraid. Get into detail and write it down. You need to know what you’re up against.
Step 2: Get motivation.
There are two questions you need to ask yourself. First, what will you miss out on buy not overcoming this fear? Will you be sad, lonely, feel pain or have low self esteem? Will others suffer? You need to make sure that you actually feel the misery and that there’s a significant amount of displeasure there.
Next, you need to ask yourself what you’ll gain by overcoming the fear. How will your life improve? What are some ways that things improve for those around you? How will you feel? Again, you need strong feelings of joy here to properly motivate yourself.
Step 3: Learn the tools and techniques to succeed.
While there are thousands of people out there claiming that they can help you, it can be tough to distinguish between those who really have the right tools and those that don’t. Normally, you’d consider how well a system sells or the testimonials but those are easily faked and hard to verify. So your best bet is to either get a recommendation from someone you trust or to get your system from a trusted source.
You might need to take a risk here and there and gamble a little time or money researching or attending courses. But the hardest part is once you find something that works — you need to be willing to step up and practice it. This is where you need to go back to step 2 and make sure your motivation is strong enough.
Step 4: Make mistakes.
You might think that this sounds crazy but mistakes are important. Believe it or not, a stumble here and there can help you. Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process — sometimes we have to try things different ways to get it working. But the real lesson to learn from mistakes is that you can survive them which is a big boost to your confidence. Mistakes are tough when they first happen, but you look back on them, you can see them for what they truly are.
Too many people get to that first mistake and then give up. However, mistakes are like war wounds — they toughen you up and force you to commit yourself to following through. If you reach that first mistake and turn back, perhaps you’re not committed enough to overcoming that communication fear. If that’s the case, consider revisiting step 2.
Step 5: Keep at it.
Communication skills are different than technical skills — if you don’t use them, you’ll lose them. In my public speaking classes, I recommend that people speak to an audience at least once every three months after the class has ended. Otherwise, you get stale and that fear is able to sneak back in. Plus, the more you learn and the more you keep practicing, the better you’ll get.
So that’s it — the big secret to overcoming communication fears. Again, finding the right tools and surviving your mistakes can be a bit tricky. Just keep in mind that it’s worth the effort so don’t give up.
James Feudo owns the Boston Web Design Agency JVF Solutions and loves blogging about personal development and communication in his spare time.