This week a friend of mine had a job interview and wanted to grab lunch with me to practice for it.
We just sat down, she didn’t wait, ‘ask me questions, Jess.’ I obliged. I noticed that she was struggling to find anything to say about herself. She struggled to find the words. So I said, ‘try to speak to me, not thinking that you’re in an interview.’
When she stopped because she didn’t know how to say the word ‘goal’ in English, she struggled to pick herself up and get back. I noticed that she might have been beating herself up, having an unconstructive internal monologue, maybe something like ‘I suck. My English is terrible.’
So I said, ‘Hey, look, you know what, there’s a common misconception that having a good English level means speaking very fast like Americans. Some people take longer to put their ideas together and it’s important to recognise that doesn’t mean your English is poor, that only means your style is different.’
That night, I texted her, ‘the word for you is “confidence”, not “English”.
I hadn’t joined the dots at that time but now I realised that she’s perhaps another slight introvert who just takes time to form her own ideas.
Sometimes we forget what the task is. If we focus on what we need to do instead of evaluating how well we’re doing at the same time, then we’ll be fine. The truth is, in a meeting, in real time, our brains are not designed to think what we need to do, how well we are doing, and how people think about us, all at the same time!
That’s just too much going on and no one human being would be able to juggle all that multi-tasking at the same time! It’s a mistake for most of us to speak and judge ourselves at the same time! If we can put aside the judging, even to delay it to post-event, that would stop us from feeling nervous! Our society has conditioned us to constantly evaluate our performance. That’s common among high achievers. And that’s ok, as long as we don’t do it at the same time as we are presenting!