Is there someone you work with that is a bit aggravating? Maybe they always disagree with you or point out the weaknesses in your idea. Or maybe it’s not at work—maybe it’s at home or in a volunteer organization.
I think we’ve all had an experience like this—it kind of takes the wind out of your sail.
That was my story on a project I’ve been working on. No matter what idea I had, or what suggestion I made, I had my small cadre of naysayers. As I prepared for meetings on this project, I found myself in a full-blown anxiety attack, as I was dreading the project meetings and the constant barrage of challenges.
After that first anxiety attack, which caused me to be short of breath, sleepless, etc. I decided there had to be another way to deal with this.
The first thing I did was call a friend. I knew I could call this friend and have her “talk me off the ledge.” By virtue of talking about my frustrations and fears, it caused me to naturally calm down and not be so tense.
The second thing I did was over-prepare for my project meetings. I would try to anticipate all the questions the naysayers would have and either send them the information in advance, or have the answers at my fingertips in our meetings. The funny thing was, after over-preparing for my meetings and sending out the detailed project updates in advance, there were no unexpected questions or negative comments! The meetings were less tense, and I was less anxious.
And finally, I did something unexpected. I regularly complimented and acknowledged my naysayers during my project meetings: “That is such a fantastic suggestion!” or “Thanks so much for bringing that up.” And it seemed as if by acknowledging them and sincerely complimenting them in a public forum (our project meeting), they didn’t feel the need to point out any weaknesses in my ideas in a disruptive way.
So, think about your personal situation. It could be at home or at work. If you find yourself getting tense just thinking about an upcoming interaction with someone, try this approach:
- Over prepare. If your spouse is going to tell you that there is no way you can afford a vacation or other expenditure, pull together a personal expense recap and show them how you can afford it. Instead of being caught off guard with their comments, start your conversation with: “I bet you think we cannot afford to go on a vacation to Hawaii, so I put together this recap, so you can see how I think we can make it work!”
- Rehearse what you are going to say in advance. I have found it is so much easier the second or third time you say something, so why not practice in front of a mirror or by calling a friend? I have practiced many a presentation in the car as I drive to and from events. By the time I am giving my presentation in person, I feel comfortable and natural because I have already practiced multiple times.
- Compliment the person you are talking to. “I really appreciate that you look at situations differently than me. That’s why we make such a great team.” That one line alone, if said sincerely, makes people stand up tall and feel good about you.
Next time you are dreading a meeting or a conversation, try this approach. I think you’ll breathe easier. And you’ll probably have more success. I know I have.