Away with Anxiety!

Not that you’re playing role of Hamlet at the Washington National Theater, but sometimes one feels anxiety about a certain meeting or presentation. It could even be worry about an upcoming family reunion or encounter.

If you’re feeling uneasy, but not really sure why, stop a think about it. Try to pinpoint what is is, or whose reaction you’re anticipating to be negative. Take the example of a college professor who’s about to return midterm exams to the class. She knows the students were expecting to perform better than they actually did. You also know that they are usually reluctant to take responsibility for not studying; it’s much easier to insist the test was “not fair!”

Thus the instructor knows, from past experience, that the students get defensive about their responsibility and the instructor defends her right to make the exam. It’s a perfectly understandable conflict of interests, it’s not a particularly rewarding experience for either side.

So, besides telling yourself that you really do love the other party and it loves you too, which is always a good idea, you can do something concrete: write the script for how you want it to be, as if it has already happened.

This idea has been endorsed by a variety of smart people, including musician Christine Kane, writer Henriette Anne Klauser, and outrageous marketing man, Joe Vitale.

Instead of writing, “The meeting will be much better than I expected.”

Write, “The meeting exceeding all my expectations; it was flawless!”

Instead of writing, “I will not be defensive when my student insist the test was not fair.”

Write, “Given my experience with disappointed students, it was not surprising that I remained calm and loving and shared responsibility in the co-creation of this outcome. We came up with some specific suggestions to improve student performance on the final exam.”

Instead of writing, “I will not be nervous.”

Write, “I was hardly nervous at all, once I started speaking the words flowed so smoothly. The presentation was outstanding!”

Joe Vitale shared the experience of advance scripting one of his appearances on the Larry King Show. He wrote it out on hotel stationery before the show, and carried the paper with him onto the stage.

Remember, people pick up on your nonverbal communication before you open your mouth. Script the event the way you want it to and then enjoy the results.


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