How many times have you been at your workplace and wished you would’ve spoken up and shared your thoughts or ideas with your co-workers. Maybe you are the one that sits in the background at the meetings and hopes and prays that no one asks for your input for fear of having to express yourself and possibly saying the wrong thing, or freezing up and having nothing to say at all. Afterwards do you replay in your mind all the great things you would have shared if you just had the confidence to do so?
Or maybe you’re the people-pleaser amongst your friends that always just “goes with the flow” and does what everyone says. Maybe, deep down, you would really prefer to go somewhere else or do something else, but choose not to voice your thoughts and opinions. Both of these scenarios are very, very common among most of my clients.
Expressing ourselves is something we learn as we are growing up and our interactions and experiences as we develop also have an impact on how confidently and assertively we express ourselves. If you get stuck with what to say, maybe feel shy, blush, stutter, trip over your words and freak out at the idea of sharing your thoughts and opinions with other people, then it’s likely that you struggle to express yourself.
We are certainly not all born with the ability to speak up or to comfortably speak in public, but the great news is that you can learn to express yourself confidently --you need the genuine desire to want to be able to and the motivation to learn a few new skills that will help you do so effectively.
So here are a couple of great tips to help you start to express yourself confidently:
1. Start with the end in mind
So many people chat and converse for the sake of it. To express yourself effectively you need to know how you will know when you have achieved that. How do you know this?
Well, think about what result you want to get out of the interaction? I know, it might sound strange but by flipping the reason for the communication around, you will be much more focused. Every journey that is successful starts with us knowing where we can to go, expressing ourselves is no different.
2. Be aware of your body language
Just like learning to write well, learning to communicate well means using your whole body to communicate. It’s not about just what you say; it’s about HOW you express it. Expression is about communicating in a way that helps the other person understand, it is not about words alone, it adds meaning.
Ok, here’s a fun exercise --role play with you! Go somewhere private with a mirror and have a chat with yourself. All I want you to do is say to yourself I'm sorry. BUT say it in different ways; use your vocal and facial expressions to convey different meanings behind this one, often used phrase.
- say I’m sorry as if you have mis-heard someone
- say I’m with genuine regret because you know you are in the wrong
- say I'm sorry sarcastically, because you are annoyed and do not mean it
- say I'm sorry incredulously like you cannot believe your ears
- say I’m sorry with no emotive content at all, no expression
All of the words are the same, it is our expression and intonation and even our body language that changes. You can reveal more about yourself through how you choose to express yourself than anything you actual say in terms of vocal content.
Take the time to practice, watch yourself and you will begin to understand more and feel how you are expressing yourself and your communication will become much more effective, practice really does make perfect.
Go give it a shot right now!