I had a great time this evening watching “Riverdance” at the New Theatre in Oxford with friends……eventually!
To begin with, the Celtic twilight flavour made me impatient. I felt exploited – almost every stereotype of Ireland except the Potato Famine came trotting out and the girls pranced like little ponies! It felt like a performing circus. I refused to be charmed. And I even have Irish ancestry!
Inevitably it was a blonde who was the leading lady. I was irritated. She was overly winsome and self – consciously feminine in her gestures – it all seemed forced and manipulative.
Eventually I was won over by some outstanding dancing by the leading man and others. We ended by cheering them and shouting “Bravo!” Though I am still pondering over the blonde young woman. Why should I have felt so strongly against her?
After a while of watching her, I realised she was nervous which was why her gestures were self-conscious. And when I became aware of this, I was ready to forgive and tolerate her. I began to notice her Irish dancing expertise. Then I admired her.
Fear obscures your performance. However talented you are, anxiety dominates and masks what you do. Others will get distracted by it and mistake your best efforts. Anxiety communicates itself. They may, like me watching the young woman, feel irritated. They will certainly feel tense. Then they become critical and consequently resist to your message. You have failed.
The secret to good communication is to relax. Easier said than done. Not for nothing is there an excellent book by Andy Lopata “….And Death Came Third!” http://www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Came-Third-Andy-Lopata/dp/1905430159. The title is inspired by the New York Times survey on Social Anxiety in 1984 – death came third on the list of people’s most dreaded fears AFTER walking into a roomful of strangers and public speaking!
Being tense means you stand in the way of your message. Being relaxed means you’ve stepped to one side so the message gets through. It can help you think more clearly, move in a more fluid manner and sound calm. You speak more slowly and time your delivery. People relax and listen to your message. They respond more positively. You have a far greater chance of winning them over and getting the message to land. You’ve won!
If you want to become one of those winners who delivers a relaxed yet energetic performance, then it may be that you consulted me first! If you want to be a winner in your communication, just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – I’d love to hear from you.