Oh boy, big interview today… The make or break of my future. But I can’t, I can’t do it. No matter how confident you are, we all face times where speaking is difficult. Perhaps you had the opportunity to speak to someone famous, a stranger whom you helped, or a company for your first job. We have all faced conversation in ours lives, and there are billions of ways to approach and analyze it. If you are like me, perhaps you lock up at the thought of discussion. Yet what if the key to unlocking a brilliant conversation was with the right hemisphere of your brain?
Remember when people used to say picture everyone in their underwear because it makes talking or presenting easier? While I personally would not advise that, there is a good sense of truth in it! If we can picture a discussion as art instead of words, it becomes smoother for we are left in control. Paint a picture in your head – or even draw it out prior to an interview, etc. – of what each path could look like. A friend is telling you about his day? Paint a picture using all the details he gives you as you talk. When the question comes around your way, do the same! As you speak, picture your day in art. Trust me, it makes things so much easier, because if you make a mistake? It doesn’t matter! Because in art, mistakes are beautiful.
Bring that Smile.
I can never revisit this theme enough! Smiling in my mind is a creative habit, for we all do it in our own ways. When I was younger, I used to have the most amusing smile, with extremely upturned lips, and widely gapped, toothy grin. It made people laugh, which made a discussion easier.
“Endorphins are responsible for making us feel happy, and they also help lower stress levels. Faking a smile or laugh works as well as the real thing—the brain doesn’t differentiate between real or fake as it interprets the positioning of the facial muscles in the same way.” ~ LifeHack.org
Stories to Tell.
If appropriate – like talking to friends or family – begin by telling funny stories, no matter how recent! Our minds gather information differently, so even if that person was there, they would describe it differently. If you are feeling extra frisky, and you both were there to experience the moment, ask them to retell it in their own words. Trust me, it brings up good laughs, a conversation, and is just as amusing as the classic Google Translate stories!
“Don’t forget – no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell” ~ Charles de Lint
We all have some form of personification – whether it is naming our cars, treating phones as people, or saying our fridge is “the most beautiful, sweetest thing to me, with a tang of sour” if you know what I mean. Personification is great in discussions! There are two big ways I use it. The first is personifying words and themes within the discussion, which goes with my first point of picturing scenarios. If you and a coworker are discussing a new theatre that opened, form the theatre in your head as if it were a person. What would it look like, sound like, act like? This really brings some interesting concepts to your discussion! Another idea is to take objects around you and give them personality as you talk, to make yourself more comfortable. Say you are at an interview in a small office with coffee cups, chairs, pens, and a tv. Make it something familiar so you can ease into your position as you talk!
A classic and strongly creative way of succeeding in a conversation are stepping in their shoes. There are a few ways you can do this, and they all are quite useful. The first is more amusing, by pretending you are looking out of their eyes at yourself. As you talk, picture this, and describe in your head what you must sound like. Another way is to gather the person’s personality and back story (if you know it) to form the conversation around their interests. Build it up like a puzzle and see what results form!
Help! How do I start?
Now that you have this knowledge of using creativity to your advantage, let’s get to work! I will give you a simple task to accomplish, exploring all the above points.
The Mirror and Paper: Grab a piece of paper, notebook, or device. Start writing down an imaginary situation with discussion! Make it as realistic or imaginary as you want. Perhaps you are a queen conversing with her daughter, participating in a national debate competition, or talking to the local cashier on a Sunday afternoon. Write down the characters involved in the discussion, and create fairly distinct personalities. Personality is important for an interesting discussion! Then form the dialogue, and picture yourself using the above points. Once you get this down, practice your lines in front of a mirror, keeping eye contact. Finally, switch up some actions or words in your small scene and try new ways! Pretty soon you will have a beautiful template to help overcome the anxiety of conversation.
I wish you the best of luck as we all work to overcome our fears of discussion! Remember, in returning the very first statement, never accept the word “I can’t” or “it is too hard”. Bury those phrases in the dirt, lock it, and toss that key into the sea. You will be a thousand times stronger without negative phrases! Good luck, my friends, for I know you will do great.
Until next time,
Ashlee G., Author of Creative Thinking Well