I do a fair amount of public speaking. Trainings, keynotes or general conference panel discussions are what I have been frequently involved. I regularly hear people comment that they could “never do that” as they, “aren’t good at public speaking.”
Truth be told, I used to be one of those people. In high school, I dreaded the required presentations in front of the class. In college, it was no different. I distinctly recall one occasion that I had to present in front of my undergraduate marketing class. Worse yet, it would be videotaped! After I completed my presentation I was required to listen to feedback from my professor and from my classmates. One of my classmates stated that my presentation would have been clearer if I hadn’t been loudly tapping my heel on the floor the entire time. I was very surprised at this feedback as I was completely unaware of my behavior. While reviewing the video of my presentation I watched the foot tapping away. Apparently, this was a habit that I had developed to help calm my nerves. Thank goodness my classmate offered this feedback as I had been completely unaware of my actions.
Despite seeming this way, my blog post today is not about how to develop public speaking skills. This blog is about insight. Insight is a deep awareness of self. It is a very powerful tool that can help you with interpersonal relationships, communication and an ability to read others. It is being conscious of who you are, understanding why we think, feel and behave the way we do.
Self-awareness allows you to understand the impact a relationship has on you and can help you show understanding and create trust in a relationship. Having insight into one’s behavior is something that can be developed. It is also a practice that can and should be lifelong.
There are many ways in which to develop insight. A few are highlighted below:
- Be in touch with your feelings. Take time to journal, tune in to your feelings and thoughts or behaviors associated with them.
- Practice reflective thinking. Allow yourself to replay the interactions or behaviors that you have had. Think through what drove your thoughts and the way that you reacted to them.
- Do not deny your feelings but do not allow your feelings to dictate your behavior. For example, just because you are angry that another car cut you off doesn’t mean you should chase after the car.
- Take advantage of 360° assessments. These assessments allow you to receive input from your supervisors, your colleagues and your employees about strengths and weaknesses. It can give you a sense of how you are coming across to others and help you tune into what you would like to change.
- Get the most out of your performance evaluation. Rather than rushing through the annual meeting to discuss if you achieved your performance plan, take the time to receive and solicit frank input from your supervisor’s observations.
- Learn to ask a good question. Develop a willingness to ask for feedback and when receiving it, practice mindful listening.
- Listen with the intent to learn rather than the intent to defend.
Having insight into your behaviors or being willing to obtain feedback from others can help you reach achievements professionally and personally. Being open to learning and listening to yourself can lead to new opportunities or new directions otherwise not recognized – like public speaking. By giving yourself permission to deepen self-awareness, you will give yourself the gift of growth and opportunity.
Kathleen Glow-Morgan is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She is a New York State Licensed Clinical Social Worker that has been employed by the Veterans Health Administration since 2008. She currently works as a National Transformational Coach Captain and Health Systems Specialist within the Office for Veterans Access to Care. Ms. Glow-Morgan is a Certified Alternate Dispute Resolution Mediator and a Certified Change Management Practitioner. Ms. Glow-Morgan has expertise in conflict management, communication strategies, coaching and change management. She has presented at numerous national conferences and workshops.