Do you have a hard time speaking up? Whether they’re open about it or not, many people share a similar communication fear. It can be hard to open up to others and share your thoughts honestly sometimes. The longer you avoid working on your fear of communication, though, the greater the fear becomes.
Fear stems from self-preservation, the desire for others to see you in a positive light. It can be useful in certain circumstances but it usually holds you back more often than not. Giving in to fear of communication keeps you from sharing your truth, having real relationships, and experiencing life to its fullest.
Overcoming communication fear feels terrifying at first but all it takes is a little bit of practice. Learning to communicate honestly and effectively is crucial if you want to become the best version of yourself. These 5 simple steps will set you on the path to overcoming your fear of communication!
Plenty of People Struggle to Communicate
You’re not alone in your fear of communication. You’ve probably talked about it with friends and heard it from them yourself. Communication fear is a big thing that plenty of people struggle with. Parents struggle with their children, spouses struggle with one another, employees struggle with their colleagues, and so many more.
Fear of communication is one of the many human experiences that is almost universal. Your difficulties with communicating aren’t a reflection on you but they are your responsibility to work through. You’re going to have a difficult time in life if you don’t learn to overcome them!
Realizing that you’re not alone in your struggle can help, though. Fear is made worse when it feels like you’re isolated in your experience. Know that everyone feels communication fear from time to time in certain situations. You aren’t the only one setting out to break through your fears!
Understanding the Source of Your Fear
The self-preserving mechanism of fear is useful in threatening situations. When it comes to most communication fears, though, the situation isn’t truly threatening. Communication fear tends to stem from the fear of judgment by the person you need to talk to. Understanding whether your fear is rational or irrational can be helpful when trying to work through it.
For example, maybe you recently started dating someone and want to let them know more about you. You care about this person and you want to keep them in your life, but you fear that sharing vulnerably could scare them off. Any person worth keeping around will want to hear what you have to say, though.
Maybe you want to ask your boss at work for a raise. You might fear that they won’t take you seriously, that they’ll brush you off, or that you’ll rock the boat. In reality, the worst thing your boss could say is no, though. It’s difficult to put yourself out there but you’re only getting in your own way.
Fear is Worse Than the Communication Itself
Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” It’s often quoted by people who realize that your anticipatory fear tends to be far worse than the actual event you’re fearful of. It’s easy to work yourself up into a frenzy about what may or may not happen. How many times have your fears actually come to fruition, though?
There are two great acronyms for fear: False Evidence Appearing Real or Fantasized Experience Appearing Real. Both nod to the fact that whatever you’re fearful of most likely won’t become a reality once it comes to pass.
This is often the case with communication fear. You’re probably creating a far more overwhelming situation in your head than it will actually turn out to be. Once you speak with the person you need to speak to, you’ll realize it wasn’t as bad as you imagined!
5 Steps to Overcome Your Communication Fear
These 5 steps to overcome fear of communication are simple and can help you share what you need to share.
1. Start slow
When you set out to overcome your fears, you don’t need to go all in all at once. Don’t set out to speak to your boss, have a difficult conversation with your partner, and sit your child down for a talk all in one day. Decide which conversation feels the least intimidating and start there. Once you have the first, the next should feel slightly less intimidating.
2. Be kind to yourself
You’re going to have a harder time if you put more pressure on yourself. Beating yourself up for experiencing fear of communication will only make it more difficult to have the conversations you need to have. Be kind to yourself as you learn the steps to overcome fear of communication or you’re going to make the process harder. When you give yourself kindness and room to make mistakes, you’re more likely to keep working toward open communication.
3. Communicate your communication fear
If you feel comfortable, try communicating about your communication fear. People who know you are likely already aware of your difficulties with communicating. Still, be open about your fear and nervousness. Acknowledging it right away before the conversation starts can relieve some of the pressure you’ve built up. The person you’re going to talk with will probably be more receptive to you, too.
4. The more you practice the better you will get
Like anything else in life, practice makes perfect. The more you practice having conversations that feel difficult, the less difficult they’ll feel over time. You’re only going to overcome your fear of communication by actively working on it.
5. Reach out for outside help
Sometimes that fear of communication stems from a deeper issue like anxiety or self-image issues. If you’ve struggled with it for your entire life, reaching out for help might be the next step in working through the issue. Someone who understands the difficulties of overcoming communication fear can offer you direct, individualized help. A life coach is a great resource to use when working through your fear. Find out whether life coaching would be a beneficial option for you today!