Boss Lady

Are you afraid to communicate?


In my private practice I hear over and over, “I just can’t say what I want to say”. “I’m afraid to talk to people”, “I can’t engage with others”… why are people afraid to communicate? They give me myriad reasons. But the bottom line is: fear of what people will think, what they will say, what they will do.

Effective communication skills are crucial. But the world is not only filled with people who are scared to communicate their truth, but with people are terrified of losing their jobs, or offending someone by not being politically correct, they are afraid of being taken out of context and a myriad of other fears could be rattled off. The result, on many levels, we have completely stopped talking; we communicate through text, email, and non-verbals every change we get.

Technology is no longer a shield

For a long time, people could hide behind the novelty of the computer screen and technology, but I see the pendulum swinging back, back to where people who once never had to communicate but could sit behind a desk and create or program or be brilliant, now have to pitch their brilliance to others in order to keep their jobs.

The result, people are panicking and trying to find help, to learn how to engage, to be dynamic, interesting, to not sweat in terror when they have to pitch or present or even just have a conversation with a stranger.

Non-verbals are not the answer

But what is most telling in this “lack of effective communication scenario” is that non-verbals are telling the truth and it’s not that pretty some of the time. We are upset, we don’t say anything, but we storm through the office and slam the door. “Maybe they’ll get it” we think. Bottom line, they won’t.

So instead of letting our non-verbals do our bidding, and poorly at that, we need to regroup and get past the fear of communicating our truth.

It’s when we jump on things when we are upset that we run the risk of making others say and do things that we fear. The fears pile up, the victories diminish and all of a sudden, time has lapsed and though we used to be great at communication, we now believe we can’t be successful at communicating — so we just stop trying because not trying is a much safer choice than taking the risk.

Have goals for what you want to say

The best way to get past the fear is first, knowing what we want to say and then gradually learn to say it, first in safe environments and then use the victory box of communication.

What are we afraid of? What other people think. Well, here’s the thing, we have no control over what others think, period. So, first of all, it’s essential that we don’t communicate based on our emotions, in the moment, how we feel. If we communicate our thoughts when riding an emotion, we can’t be as diplomatic, which leads to a potential backlash and then we file that experience away as, “well, I can’t communicate, so I’ll never try again”.

But, if we can learn to communicate based on thoughts, outcomes, goals and our truth rather than emotions then we stand a better chance of reaching a middle ground and having a successful communication experience. The truth is, everyone is out to get what they want… that is one of the reasons effective communication is essential.

We have to learn to give and take and not worry about what others are going to think, say or do. As long as we project our needs, wants and desires in a calm and well thought out state, with diplomacy and in a calm and confident manner, we are okay.

About Tracy Goodwin'

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