“You can never underestimate the power of a single conversation.”- Patrick King
Ever have that uncomfortable gut feeling when you have to talk in front of a group of people or where there is an important person you have to meet and you can get yourself to speak your ideas freely. Social confidence like everything in life is a skill you consciously work on to improve, most people are not naturally confident. Fearless Social Confidence is a book that addresses the issues relating to confidence and social interactions. From speaking in large groups to talking to that one girl/guy you still cannot work up the nerve to ask out (you know the one). Due to my own fears of public speaking, I was recommended this book, and as Chapter Director of Startup Grind one of my responsibilities is talking in front of big groups that can range from 30 to 500 people.
The author is Patrick King a social interaction specialist who has been featured on Forbes, Inc., Mens Fitness and the Huffington Post.
The comfort zone is an area that we always hear we should break out of. The reason behind this is that if you stay somewhere you feel safe there is no growth and there can be no change. In Fearless the author gives us various tips and advice about how we can expand our threshold for new situations. One of the most interesting ones he mentions is, when you want to do something but you feel that fear coming with regard to going through with it, you DO IT.
For instance, if you see a business contact that you want to meet, go up and introduce yourself. If you have an idea at a meeting but aren’t sure it’s correct, say it. If you see a cute girl walking down the street go up and say “hi”. The point is that do what you feel uncomfortable with no matter the situation. The logic behind this is that after some time the fear diminishes and when you see that things aren’t as bad (they never are) your confidence increases. Even more than that after a while the feeling of fear will start to become exciting and you will want to do these things more and more.
Negative self-talk is another factor that really kills our comfort, ease of speaking and confidence. This habit is very damaging not only because we are receiving hate from the closest person to us: ourselves, but also because it is something that we are not taught just how negative it is to do this from a young age. Thus, it becomes a pattern that continues to repeat itself for a long time, and is hard to break. It is very important to know that negative self-talk also reduces the amount of risk you are willing to take in your life, making your comfort zone smaller and smaller. A great piece of advice to work on for improving on this front is the “21 day no complaint experiment.” What you do is wear a bracelet and move it from one wrist to another each time you talk badly about yourself. Each time you slip up you move it to the other wrist and start from 0. This will increase your awareness and that way it is easier to stop the negative self-talk. Do this for 21 days straight and you will be surprised on how much your confidence increases.
Fearless Social Confidence is a book that I recommend to anyone who is having trouble with expressing themselves freely or who thinks that they could use an extra boost of confidence. From my perspective, it is a very well rounded book, because: (1) it talks about all different areas of social confidence, (2) it is applicable, it is full of advice and exercises by the end of the book you will be more confident than when you started, and (3) it is a short book, with 148 pages it is a book that can easily be finished in a weekend. Personally, I feel there was a before and after in my own public speaking skills and confidence after reading this book. It really has helped me in my role as a Startup Grind director.
- Maintain eye contact with everyone you see until they look away. Now I do not mean wide open creepy eyed stare (you will get punched) but more of a relaxed look and even smile a bit. This is a simple exercise that will help you have small victories which will increase your confidence throughout your day. Play it as a game, the more fun you have with it the better. Soon you will be doing this and not feel self conscious about it.
- Stop comparing yourself to other people! This is crucial and one of the things that most negatively impacts us. We usually compare ourselves to other people when we are in our worst moment to their best moment or vice versa. This is not how things work in reality. By doing this we are judging ourselves and others unfairly. So be mindful about this and it will help you to stop.
For further reading on the subject of becoming a better speaker I would recommend How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and on the subject of confidence I would recommend The Art of Extraordinary Confidence: Your Ultimate Path To Love, Wealth, and Freedom by Dr. Aziz Gazipura