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Communicating your way through a peaceful holiday season

Two days before Christmas I received a text from a neighbour – “I’m about to commit GBH on my mother in law. Listen out for the sirens!”. She didn’t, of course. No doubt she actually offered her another mince pie.

Such are the delights of this holiday period. Many people are cooped up like battery hens with close family and in-laws, and are having to negotiate their way through some tricky communication challenges.

Usually, this involves any number of the following: the biting of tongues; the turning of cheeks; the secret punching of pillows; the pouring of Prosecco. Or a seraphic ‘rising above’. In all cases, a mismatch of the outward communication and the inward emotion/sensation.

Take this idea away from the festive lunch table and into the training room and it’s a hugely important concept for people who are anxious about their communication/presentation skills. I often work with individuals who suffer badly from the physical symptoms of nerves – racing heart, churning stomach, shaking voice, wobbly legs etc and who assume that these are obvious to their ‘audience’. What a revelation for them, therefore, when I film them ‘in action’ and they see themselves for the first time as others do. Far from the quivering wreck they imagined but rather a composed and confident speaker.

For many, this is a transformational moment. The challenge then is to accept that there will always be a conflict between what they feel and what they ‘show’ and that they simply have to learn to live with this.  The nerves will abate somewhat, over time, as confidence grows but they will always be present.

Another slab of Stilton, granny?