On feeling uncomfortable around others

Have you ever feel uncomfortable speaking in front of others? Last time, when I was attending an event, I felt nervous surrounded by strangers, especially during the moment that I need to do a public speech. There was constant pressure and obligation to talk whenever I was surrounded by others, which made me felt uncomfortable. First I would need to introduce myself and tried too hard to impress others. Then I would need to listen to others conversation and attempted to speak about a particular topic in response to impromptu questions. I wasn’t prepared and my mind was blank when it was my turn to express myself. Despite I have read a lot of books and theory about public speaking and making a good conversation, the moment in real life talking in front of other people is another story. There was a flight or fight response in my body with higher blood pressure. Lastly, when I was finishing my speech, I would need to think of a proper ending, either make a laugh or pass on the topic to another person to continue, otherwise, it would be an awkward silence to be the last person to talk, while nobody got any feedback.

I might have done differently by trying to engage others, with eye contact and asking questions to build a connection. It was a mistake to be self-centric and wasting everybody time by forcing others to listen to me. Instead, I would be adding value to others by saying something interesting or beneficial to others to show my appreciating for their time and attention. After seeing the facial expression and feedback, the initial tension would be released and I would start to feel more confidence continuing my speech. With my emotional intelligence, I would keep the others in mind, what are they thinking and how I could help. By shifting the attention from myself to others, I feel more comfortable and start enjoying social anxiety. It is completely normal to feel the fear to speak in front of others, either a small or large group. I would exercise my sympathy to try to better organize my speech and make a clear voice, such that it helps others to understand what I am trying to say. I would be able to bring values to others and make a good connection.

In more general terms, it is smart to invest time and effort to build relationships with others, such that the uncomfortable feelings do not repeat themselves. There are numerous research shows that having a good relationship with others contribute a lot to our happiness level, it helps us deal with stressful situations, it is the solution to depression and it is a prerequisite for our success in life. I should not choose to isolate myself and avoiding others in my comfort zone. Instead, being comfortable around others help to build connection and trust. I realised that I would be able to achieve more if I had been trusted to do more along the way. As my career transition from a software engineer to a manager, my role has changed from solving technical problems to making others more effective so they can solve more problems. My job had changed from one about technology to one about people. It has changed from leveraging other’s technical skills to leveraging others’ people skill. It is not sustainable for me to get more done by doing it myself, simply because I am smarter and more effective at getting things done than others. I need to learn to trust others, feel comfortable around others because of love and respect.

Originally published at https://victorleungtw.com.

By Victor Leung

Experience in software development, consulting services and technical product management. Understanding of business and technology with an MBA in Finance and a Master degree in Computer Science. AWS Certified Solution Architect with experience in building products from scratch and serving as a charismatic leader.

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