Accentuate the positive

By Emma Serlin
April 15, 2015

This week’s blog post is written by LSW’s Principal Coach Jamie Chapman.

How many times have you thought “I could have done that much better” after giving a presentation or when leaving a job interview?
There are lots of potential reasons for under-performance—but one of the most all pervading is negative thoughts.
We all know the score. We’re speaking perfectly well, and then… the doubts creep in. ‘This isn’t going very well’, ‘They’re bored’, ‘They think I’m stupid’.

Pretty soon we’re thinking more about our own negative perception of ourselves than we are about what we are actually trying to say.

So how do we control this?

There’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that we can’t guarantee an end to negative thought (if only we could, life would be a lot simpler!) However, the good news is that we have a choice about how we respond to negative thoughts when we communicate.

Lots of people focus on the negative thoughts—and let them crowd out the message they are actually seeking to convey. Remember: Communication is all about who you are speaking to and what you are saying.

I remember looking after my nephew when he was very little one Christmas afternoon. He was fascinated by our open fire, and wanted nothing more than to stick his hand right in the middle of it! There is no point reasoning with an eighteen-month-old, so I spent the entire afternoon gently, but firmly, pushing his hand out of the way every time he reached for the fire . And that’s my image for negative thought when I’m speaking. ‘Out of the way, I’m busy’.

Essentially, it’s about standing up to that inner bully

Put it this way: If you saw someone at a meeting saying the sort of things to a fellow employee that you say to yourself in your head—you’d report them to a tribunal!

Not focusing on a negative self-perception while speaking is almost a discipline—and we have some really useful techniques here at London Speech Workshop which can help you do just that. No matter how ingrained, new patterns of behaviour can be encouraged to take hold.

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