When people in the USA were asked in a survey what they were most afraid of, most of them answered that they were more afraid of public speaking than death. Basically, they are afraid if they expose themselves to evaluation of what they know, how they say, what they know, how they look or how they appear in the eyes of others. Modern times demand just that. Everyone is expected to be able to perform, whether on stage, at a conference, in a lecture hall, in a meeting room, or when dealing with clients and colleagues.
We perform every moment, only the audience is different and how they receive and see us depends on our ability to communicate. It depends on us whether we will convince them and influence them. Being “on stage” all the time is not quite self-evident. When we communicate with friends, we feel at home and do not see it as a performance. But when we have the lights of the cameras in front of us, the eyes fixed on us, the heartbeat increases, our throat tightens, our hands shake and the voice that can be heard is unrecognizable…
What’s happening? Nothing special, just the environment is not our home. And the natural reaction to an “unknown” environment is discomfort, tension, because control over the body is taken over by the amygdala, the part of the brain that is responsible for survival and instinctively decides whether it is time to flee… If we find ourselves in unfamiliar circumstances, the environment , which we perceive as “dangerous”, the heart rate increases because the body is preparing for action. This reaction can be modified by preparation and frequent operation in such an environment. Humans have this ability to get used to anything if it lasts long enough. This book offers plenty of examples and exercises that lead us to the desired results.
I would also like to draw your attention to something that the author also emphasized in the book and which causes us problems. Nobody likes to hear criticism. But there is no progress without it. It is necessary to be aware that it is difficult to see our own mistakes, but we are good at noticing them in others. If we also know that a mentally healthy person generally has a better opinion of himself than those around him, it is clear that we need the cooperation of others in order to progress. Criticism destroys our self-esteem. We all also have the experience that – when we warn someone about something bad – we encounter resistance. Because we prefer comfort, we usually don’t tell our friends what’s wrong because we don’t want to jeopardize relationships. But it is not possible to progress like this. That’s why it’s good to allow friends to become our coaches by asking them to always correct us when we do something wrong or when we succumb to old habits. When someone criticizes you, instead of using your usual defensive or offensive reactions, consider that they might be right. And it’s the same with performing as with anything else – you’ll only get good after regular training and performing. As with fitness, you will make better progress with performance training if you have a coach who will remind you of what you are doing wrong or how you could do better.
Andreja Jernejčič’s manual is useful and “handy” for everyone: for those who are just getting to know this field, and for “old cats”. With the refresher, they too may come to some knowledge that will help them become even better. Because learning to communicate is a story that is never finished.