Communication is everything in life, love and business. In reality, we cannot live the lives we want, unless we say what we want. When it comes to communication, it is not what we say but how we say it that makes all the difference. Interpersonal interactions often bring up a host of different reactions in us. Many of us allow our nerves or insecurities to destroy our ability to communicate well. Nerves can trigger a lack of patience, defensiveness and hot-headed temperaments, or they can bring up insecurities, feelings of meekness and peacemaking-making habits; none of which lead us to getting the things we need and want out of our interactions. To be well-received by the other, our communication style must be respectful, open and assertive. To follow are some helpful tips in developing the confidence to communicate well.
1. Be clear on your views.
It takes courage to make ourselves vulnerable and to share our thoughts, feelings and ideas; especially if our goal is to influence and/or create a shift in the people we are connecting with. Knowing where we stand gives us a platform to communicate from, and it also gives us a more organic sense of confidence when communicating. When we feel clear, we are naturally more excited to share our views. Entering a conversation prepared makes us less vulnerable to being manipulated or pulled away from our views and values. Preparation trumps feelings of intimidation.
2. Be assertive.
As we head to the front lines of a conversation to express our ideas and opinions, we must not weaken. It’s best to get right to the point. We must be kind, yet direct. This gives us a feeling of power and authority, especially when communicating with those who have stronger ego’s than our own. We must be mindful to state our thoughts and feelings boldly, but without being bullish or obnoxious. It’s best to be simple, clear and confident. It is of great importance to avoid leading with an apology or any type of excuse, as this approach is demonstrative of our insecurity. It is most effective to start our interactions with strong “I” statements, backed with evidence in support of what we are sharing.
3. Stick to your guns.
Whenever we present new ideas, we should expect to be challenged. We must prepare ourselves to stand firm in our ideas whenever necessary. It may be intimidating to stand up to dissenting views; however, ideas that are the most worthy of sharing are those likely to be bordering on the edge of controversial. We must show conviction without being aggressive or defensive. The more slowly and directly we speak, the more present we will be when listening to opposing views. The more present we are, the more what we have to say increases in its validity.
4. Provoke questioning.
We must come to trust that people like to be challenged, which allows us to challenge back when they share contrary views. This type of dialogue inspires each of us to generate and put forth our most thoughtful and high quality ideas. Whenever we get the opportunity to generate and contribute to a conversation, we must engage with a spirit of cooperation and open-mindedness. The more cooperative and open we are to what is being presented, the more interesting we become to those we’re speaking with. It shows great character to be able to bend and be flexible, while also sticking strongly to what we believe.
5. Show respect.
If, in our conversations, we approach people from the “underling” disposition, our ideas and opinions will not be taken seriously. Our attitude, approach, nonverbal energy and tone of voice reveal everything. There is an unconscious habit, in most people, to please those who we believe hold more power than we do. However, if we defer from our stance, they will not respect what we have to say. Even worse, we lose respect for ourselves each time we do not stand strongly in who we are. Respect and agreement are not synonymous. We must lead from our strengths, while being respectful of those we are communicating with and agree to disagree, in lieu of pleasing for the sake of peace.
6. Be genuine.
It takes extraordinary courage to be confident when sharing our ideas, especially if we’re talking to someone who creates anxiety in us. Sometimes that isn't always personal. It may be more about the other person and their character. Authenticity is a contagious character trait. We must develop the courage to utilize our spontaneity, creative energy, vigor, vulnerability and sense of humor when communicating. The more genuine we allow ourselves to be, regardless of who we think other people are, the more willing we become in putting our thoughts and ideas out there for discussion. To become more confident, we must be willing to risk.
In any type of communication, our emotions will try and derail, deter and confuse us. We must enter interactions knowing our emotions cannot be trusted. We may feel shy, insecure and uncertain, but must view this like a pebble in our shoe. It is uncomfortable, but we have to ignore it. Our anxious emotions have to be worked through for our ideas to be respected, heard and utilized. We cannot let our fearful insecurities or defensive natures be a part of our equation. We must go into each interaction with a smile. This makes it appear as if we have it all together. It helps to be well-groomed and to possess a sense of humor. If we act confident enough, we will become confident enough. We must dress the part, play the role, be prepared, stay authentic and say what we need to say, as it if is the absolute truth. This is how we rise up into advocating for who we are and what we want.