Take These 5 Steps to Sound More Confident

 

One of the core principles of my book, Successful Women Think Differently, is the understanding that your thoughts create your actions.  If you become aware of what you are saying to yourself about your situation, you can consciously decide if the thought is moving you toward your goals or farther away.  But your thoughts don’t just lead you to take actions such as initiating a conversation or going back to school or opening your heart again after it’s been broken.  Your thoughts also shape the sound of your voice.  Your voice is the expression of your internal state.  If your internal state is anxious, for example, and you think danger is imminent, your voice will reflect anxiety.  Your body responds to your thoughts of anxiety.

 

The sound of your voice is regulated by the vagus nerve, which is central to the parasympathetic nervous system.  When the vagus nerve is stimulated, which can happen as a fight-or-flight response to anxiety-producing thoughts, the vocal cord muscle spasms.  This can cause your voice to quiver or ‘sound nervous’.  Additionally, when stressed or nervous, you typically don’t breathe deeply.  As a result, you don’t have the air that creates the pressure needed for a strong, consistent voice quality.

 

What can you do about it?

 

  1. Become aware of your thoughts and redirect counterproductive ones.  Instead of mulling over a counterproductive thought, intentionally redirect it by changing your environment, choosing a new thought, or engaging in an activity that gets your mind moving in a new direction.

 

  1.   Exercise purges negative energy.

 

  1.   If there is something you need to say that makes you uncomfortable or anxious, or that you must present to a group, practice what you are going to say in advance.  Even record it and listen to find the areas where you want to improve.  Practice always alleviates nervous energy.

 

  1. Hydration alleviates dry mouth.  Drink water before or during important conversations.

 

  1. Talk it out.  Choose wisely, but identify someone who will help you put your negative thoughts into perspective and restore a sense of confidence and calm.

 

 

My Challenge to you this week:

Notice your thoughts, especially when you are stressed or anxious.

 

Journaling Assignment:

What thoughts make you anxious about an upcoming conversation you need to have?

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4 Questions to Get Some Clarity

One morning a few years ago, I turned out of my neighborhood to head to my office and was startled by what appeared to be a cloud of smoke across a wide swath of gray sky. The tall buildings that normally tower over the nearby streets were nowhere to be seen. It was a bit disorienting. As I tried to make sense of it, I had only one thought: There must be a fire. I scanned the area while driving, curious what building the fire might be coming from. But as I continued to drive down the street, I realized the “smoke” expanded far beyond the few blocks from home. It wasn’t smoke at all. It was a dense fog – thicker than I’ve ever seen it! I continued on to work and traffic was slow, even for my little two-mile commute. Amazingly, an hour later when I stepped out of my office, the sun’s bright rays had parted the fog and the skyline was in clear view. Finally, there was clarity.

It reminds me of what happens when life gets foggy and cluttered. It can feel like you can’t see what the future holds, what decisions to make or whether what has always been there is still there at all. It is like wading through a dense fog of uncertainty and confusion. Should I follow my dream or play it safe? Should I buy the house now or keep renting? Should I go back to school so I can change careers or stay in this career I don’t enjoy? Should I hold on to this relationship or let go? When working with clients over the last 15 years and even in my own life, I have noticed that stress and stagnancy are often created by a lack of clarity.

Once you get clear, it is like rays of sun burning away the fog of confusion – and suddenly you are no longer stuck. It is normal to feel uncertain and fearful of the future when you can’t see clearly. Clarity creates breakthrough. In what area of your life are you lacking clarity right now? Here are a few ways you know it’s time to get clarity:

  • A decision needs to be made – whether about a relationship or finances or career – and you feel as though you have absolutely no idea how to proceed.
  • You find yourself busy doing a lot of stuff, yet you feel unproductive.
  • You feel overwhelmed.
  • You have no idea how much is coming in and going out of your checking account.
  • You have no passion for what you’re doing, but no plan to make a transition.

As the subtitle in my book, Start Here Start Now says, when you ask the right questions, you get the right answers. So in this moment, I invite you to take a deep breath and coach yourself with a few questions to get clarity so you can de-stress, move forward and become unstoppable:

  1. What is unclear to me right now?
  2. What specific information or activity will give me clarity?
  3. What decision will clarity empower me to make?
  4. Why is that decision important for me right now?

My challenge to you this week:

Take a break to get clarity.

Journaling assignment:

Ask the four clarity questions above.

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What to Do When Emotions Keep Ruling Your Decisions

Making an important decision at the height of an emotional state – whether angry or ecstatic, frustrated or giddy – can lead to decisions you regret. Emotions are powerful. Sometimes positive, sometimes negative, but they always have the power to move you to action.

When emotions are uncomfortable – like fear or anger or frustration – the action you can feel most tempted to take is the one that will get rid of the emotion. Whether your emotions are brought on by the circumstances and events of your life, or by the manipulative behavior of a particular person in your life, take notice when you feel pressure to make an important decision in the midst of strong emotion. In fact, I invite you to do something different when you feel pressured by your emotions:

Nothing.

That’s right. Do absolutely nothing. Let yourself feel uncomfortable, afraid, angry, sad – and don’t make a decision or take an action. Just sit with the emotion. Embrace the idea that your emotions don’t have to rule. Instead, you can allow them to school you. What message might your emotions be sending you? What can you learn? And when would be a better time for you to make a decision or take action?

It is OK be to emotional. It’s natural. Just don’t let your emotions think for you. Slow down. Take a breath. Be wise.

My challenge to you:

Don’t let your emotions rule your actions. Be still. Hold off on making a decision until you are less emotional.

Journaling assignment:

What would happen if you refused to make a decision or take action in the midst of high emotions? In what area(s) or with whom do you need to practice “doing nothing” this week?

Resources:

Successful Women Speak Differently – Book or Audiobook

Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable

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Stop Staring at the Closed Door

 

“When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”

–Alexander Graham Bell

What door has recently closed in your life? Maybe it’s a job loss or a relationship, or an opportunity you were hoping would finally come together. And now, the door you wanted to remain open is closed. It is essential that you don’t linger too long staring at a closed door. If you do, you’re likely to miss the new opportunities that are waiting to open for you.

If you’re dealing with change brought on by circumstances beyond your control, here are four steps to get your stride back:

1. Mourn the loss.

It can feel devastating when unwelcome change intrudes on your life. Give yourself permission to grieve your loss. Acknowledge any lessons you’ve learned. Once you’ve acknowledged and mourned, choose to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move forward. Self-pity is self-sabotage.

2. Make a decision to face forward.

At some point, you must stop lingering at the closed door as though it will reopen. Instead, walk away and take steps onto the path that is unfolding before you. Face forward rather than backwards, and you’ll find that change offers new hope and opportunity. This decision takes courage. Courage is a choice.

3. Be open to change.

Don’t compare your new opportunities to your old opportunities. Instead, recognize that new opportunities sometimes have very different benefits from old ones. They sometimes address different needs and wants, and bring you joy in ways that were missing before. Sometimes they stretch you in ways you haven’t been stretched. Embrace the challenge with gratitude and perseverance.

4. Walk through the open doors.

New life, new work, and new opportunities will open up on your path. Walk through them!

Often, doors close because we never should have walked through them in the first place. Other times, they close because they were meant only for a season. Learn the lessons, live with courage, and enjoy your journey.

My challenge to you this week:

Face forward. Stop staring at the closed door and take a step towards the future that is waiting to unfold.

Journaling assignment:

What situation or challenge is the “closed door” in your life? What step forward could you take that would signify your willingness to leave that door alone and trust that new and better ones will open?

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Turn Judgment into Curiosity

 

One of the most powerful skills of a personal coach is the ability to listen without judgment. In other words, it was a challenge to not be judgmental. When I first learned this years ago, it stretched me. I think it is natural to form an opinion about information we receive, but judgment occurs when we proclaim our opinion the truth, and make accusations of the offender, even when we don’t have enough information to come to a definite conclusion. By becoming aware of this tendency, you can change it. When you do, you’ll notice yourself connecting with people more authentically and learning valuable information. You will find that as others feel heard, they are also more open to hearing you.

Try this. The next time you feel yourself tempted to be judgmental, instead, be curious. Rather than deciding you know their motives, intentions or backstory, withhold those judgments and listen. The only way to really build bridges is to refuse to jump to conclusions and instead be curious. How?

  1. Be curious by asking questions of yourself.

Why do you suppose they did/said/feel that?

How does that affect me, if at all?

Why does it bother me?

What could I learn from this person or situation?

 

  1. Be curious by asking questions of others.

Hmm. Tell me more about that?

I’ve never been in those shoes before. How are you feeling?
What makes you say that?

Or say nothing at all. Let them talk and just listen.

 

You can learn so much by turning away from judgment and towards curiosity. By asking powerful questions – of yourself and others – you often gain an unexpected perspective or a new piece of information that provides insight you would not otherwise get. You build trust. And you open the door to greater connection, influence and peace.

 

My challenge to you this week:

When you are tempted to judge someone, instead be curious.

 

Journaling assignment:

Towards whom have you been (tempted to be) judgmental recently? At work? On social media? With a friend or family member? What are you getting out of being judgmental? If you were curious instead, how might you react differently to the situation or person?

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