The nature of communication is that we show up to experience, and respond to what happens. Sometimes, it appears as if a conversation isn’t going smoothly. Anxiety can crop up if a big boss is present. Concern can show up if HR is in the room. There are many not-so-helpful emotions that can arise in any situation where communication is happening.
At its core, what really is communication anyway? In a business context, it is the expression of a point of view. The point doesn’t need to be big or even very pointy. It can be a statement of fact. It can be an opinion. When communication feels awkward, before trying to fix anything, it’s first vital to identify where the awkwardness is coming from.
Awkward feelings never originate from circumstances.
They seem like they do. However, if you really look at what is going on, it can be observed that your experience can only emerge from the quality of your thoughts, stories, and impressions about a circumstance. Any circumstance by itself is benign. So the best place to start is to understand that this is how experience works. It always starts as an internal experience and then gets projected out onto the scenery.
To test this out, just notice a situation where you feel nervous communicating in front of an audience. Next see how, if this is a group setting, that not everyone else in the room is nervous, even if they are also speaking in front of the same crowd. You might not know how nervous they are for sure, but you can get a general sense. Taking this even further, do you think your bosses spouse is nervous communicating to them? Are their kids nervous speaking up around them? How about their close friends? How about their dog?
The source of nervousness.
With a bit of observation, you can see that the source of nervousness in communication always originates from the subject (the communicator), not the object (the audience). This is always the case. If it weren’t the case, everyone coming into the vicinity of the object of nervousness would get nervous! This never happens. Everyone has different reactions to the same circumstances. This makes sense since we all have divergent thinking at any point in time. Since we now know where the disturbance is coming from, what is there to do about it?
Most self-help teachers will offer a variety of techniques to cope with such a situation. At the grossest level, you might learn how to speak with clarity, poise, and confidence through speech coaching. A more nuanced trainer might go deeper, and help you work on your body posture and positioning, as some believe that however the body is positioned, the mind follows. Strong and confident body = a strong and confident mind.
Even more subtle, a mindset coach or psychologist would examine the inner workings of the mind in depth. What do you believe? What is true? What is false? Such an inquiry is predicated on destroying limiting beliefs. All these methods can be useful. However, they all seem to miss the most obvious, powerful and subtle understanding of them all. I already mentioned this understanding. Do you remember it? It’s so simple it’s easy to overlook and forget.
Since your experience is generated from yourself and projected onto the world, it’s no more worth being fearful of it than it is to run out of a movie theater when you see an explosion on the big screen.
What it means to truly know something.
To see this point is genuinely profound. It must soak in beyond a cognitive understanding to a true knowing. When something is known (not just mentally agreed with) everything changes without effort.
So if you are hesitant in communication, the first place to look is not for a solution to the problem, but to the source of the problem. Be willing to see the source in total, without judgment. The mind, when it deeply witnesses its folly, can’t help but laugh and relax. In a deeply relaxed and present state, without much weighing on your mind, you can’t help but be an effective communicator.