Have you ever sat in meeting with your inner voice in overdrive, burning to share that killer concept you’ve so ingeniously cooked up, only for the moment to be stolen by somebody else or if you do eventually get the chance to speak, find you get lost in the detail? Let’s examine the self-sabotaging mind games people often play on themselves.
Do you ever find yourself ruminating on these thoughts?
- It can be difficult to break into discussions during meetings
- The message is clear in my head, but I lose confidence when I hear myself speak
- Sometimes I sense people wanting to hurry me up
- Self-belief and confidence can nosedive when I see conflict
- Others’ higher status can get in the way of what I’m trying to say
If you responded yes to all five, don’t panic. The vast majority of people would say the same. Likewise, if your answer to all five statements was ‘It depends’, that’s perfectly valid, too.
These beliefs are voiced by our inner monologue and fuelled by the reptilian part of our brain – the oldest, most primeval portion of our hard drive. It’s responsible for the out-of-body experience we feel when we lose our train of thought and the fight or flight response is triggered during a speech, presentation or high stakes meeting.
If this happens to you, how long do you feel the experience goes on? In my workshops, most people tell me it feels like an uncomfortably long time. Yet, very often if we ask the same question of a colleague who was present, their experience will have been different. They’ll say the moment passed in an instant, and they’re not just being nice about it.
Here’s a simple way to react to the triggers these you may recognise:
- your heart rate soars
- you feel flushed or go red
- you may feel like you’re hyperventilating
All of these reactions are human, but you alone are in control of your breathing. If you feel one of these triggers, place the palm of your hand on your diaphragm and take a deep breath. Exhale as slowly as possible and then allow the next breath to arrive naturally.
This ten second ‘time out’ will slow down your heart rate and switch your consciousness back on, refuelling your voice at the same time.