Monday, March 26, 2012

Battle with the spoken word - Part II (Learning to say ‘No, Thank You’)

The moment you decide to conquer the fear of the spoken word, you have landed the biggest leap ever taken in that one particular death well.
Now the effort must be focussed on keeping at it. While you've joined groups or formed speaking groups to tickle your inhibitions, it's important to be alert. Because now you will discover several things that you never knew had been defining your character.
When I was more than half-a-year into my battle, I realised that I let myself to be bossed around. No, not by my workplace bosses (that's another topic for another time), but by a so-called well-meaning friend who claimed to know better. (She, indeed, does with far wider experience in the publishing world than me).
And when I reacted very mildly (old habits die hard), I was told 'You've changed'. But the friend could not pinpoint what exactly was the 'change' in me.
I smiled to myself as her comment was another imaginary trophy I received for my efforts towards empowering myself.
Here goes the series of incidents...when my long-time acquaintance turned friend learnt that my first book was in the process of being published, she rang me up to enquire about the details of my venture.
A conversation that started cordially turned nasty as she yelled, "Why didn't you tell me your book is complete...You hid your work... You are wasting your money...I know of several publishers in India whom I could have introduced you to had you told me once...you are being foolish..."
And so on until she banged the phone on me. This despite the fact that she was in the know of me compiling chapters. We had started on our respective books at about the same time.
I forgave her. I initiated steps and stayed in touch.
A few months later, my book was printed and ready for distribution, when she rang me up to know details of the distributor and once again enquired the amount I had invested. No sooner than I mentioned the figures than she started, this time warning me in no uncertain terms, that I was goofing up my future associating with my publisher because no "good distributors will associate" with my publisher.
This time I was more composed. I sought to first know the reason why she thought my publisher's work would not be accepted my well-known distributors. And the only reason she gave was, “Because she's a ***ch". When I replied, "It doesn't matter. So be it", she snapped "don't get cocky with me, I'm talking for your good and your future..."
I firmly repeated, "It doesn't matter. My future associations for my work is within me alone, but thank you for the advise.” By then she had hung up on me. She didn't deserve an explanation or thanks, anyways. My courtesy!
I had learnt to tell a bossy and judgemental person to f*** off without being rude. I had begun exercising my right to accept no shit from I-know-it-all mortals. I had stood up for my beliefs!
Yes, belief is all what matters. If you believe in yourself, your aspiration for any desire will come to pass. Just follow your gut instincts.
Returning to our battle with speaking, we now understand how acknowledging one weakness within us and setting about to overcome that will bring forth other small niggly negatives that need attention as well.
By saying ‘NO’ and not agreeing with someone you are NOT being a foe. Agreement in disagreement is a healthy way to sustain friendship.
Imagine towing one another's line in the name of maintaining a relationship. You will not enjoy each other’s company, the association will bear no fruits and above all you will denigrate your own worth.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Battle with the spoken word - Part I (Saying it aloud!)

As promised here I begin my series...
How many of you'll can deliver a speech to a group of audience. Loud and clear, with excellent diction and smart posture without your heart pounding in your ears, knees knocking together, eyes drilling the opposite wall, throat drying up to a croaky voice and palms leaking your confidence?
A prepared speech to begin with. Impromptu requires a different skills set, which I'll tackle later.
This is no arm-chair writing nor a funda that flew over the top of my scalp as I munched popcorn. These are real facts - those what I experienced, am experiencing and am damn well sure will experience!
To begin with acknowledge that you cannot speak to a group of more than five strangers without going through at least one of the several symptoms mentioned in the opening paragraph. This is called 'BEING AWARE'.
Next admit it is a 'weakness'. Loud and clear, say it aloud. Let the monster inside you listen and prepare itself for the attack.
Trust me it is one great weakness to possess. No, I'm not nuts yet. Think of this...How would you feel if you were to tease the biggest bully in your class or office in his/her face?
That's exactly what you are doing by saying it loud and clear - 'Yes, I have a weakness.'
Next say I'm not ashamed. Say it as many times loud and clear. Look into the mirror and yell - 'Yes I have a weakness, but am not ashamed'.
This is what I didn't do. And this is the reason why I was called names, branded and... suffered for more than two decades of my adult life. I lived in denial. And when the need to speak multiplied I receded further into my own imaginary shell. I spoke only if spoken to and was called a 'snob'. I replied in monosyllables and was called 'ignorant'. I kept away from discussions and conversations and was labelled 'shy'. Some even attacked my pedigree. Yet I chose not to react, until I realised my purpose in life. I became an author and I hate if I were to be called a shy and ignorant author. For I'm simply NOT that.
You need not wait to hit the wall to seek remedies. Join a forum (there are dime a dozen in any city) that will hone your speaking skills. If cash is your problem, no worries. Form a group. Tell your well-hearted friends or relatives or neighbours about your intention. Bet you! there are hordes of 'shy' people out there.
And once you initiate in forming a group, you automatically become its leader and lo! you will already begin basking in new-found confidence.
Those of you joining professional groups, fret not. Just look around and see the varied members - you will find managers and office boys, housewives and so-called superwomen, even aged and experienced professionals all under one roof - desperate to speak without stuttering.
Take this first step and then check me out here for the next.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What a shame! A journalist training to speak

When my acquaintances learnt of my new interest, they reacted variedly. From genuine shock to mocks and even smirks and some suppressed giggles.
How can a journalist seek help for learning to speak! What a shame! they implied.
While I was absolutely unstirred with their verbal and facial expressions, I couldn't help but see the ignorance in abundance in them.
How did I sense the ignorance if I was unstirred? Well, because I'm out conquering my fear. A fear that I am aware of. Am aware of because I acknowledged that weakness in me. I acknowledged it because I love myself and will go any length to see myself free of that evil.
The very fact that they reacted thus is because I minced no words and hid no facts. By not being ashamed or afraid of spelling out my weakness I thrashed out the first huge blow on the face of the ugly trespasser settled inside me.
Now tackling the 'ignorance' of my listeners - I don't claim every one of them who reacted in disapproval need help to speak. But all of them definitely could do with some logic.
How can a journalist join a speaking forum is akin to asking how can your physician not operate upon your heart? Or how can a support desk staff not know how to build a software program? Or how can a wrestler be afraid of a snake? Or why can’t all cricketers ball and bat and keep wicket?
A dentist is a dentist first a doctor second. A cardiologist is a cardiologist first and doctor second. And so is an ophthalmologist or gynecologist or any other medical ologist.
Similarly, a mechanical engineer cannot fix your electrical cable or an architectural engineer weld chunks of heavy metal.
All engineers may be technicians but all technicians are not engineers. All surgeons are doctors but not all doctors are surgeons. All professors are teachers but not all teachers are professors. All painters are artists but not all artists are painters. All hair stylists are barbers but not all barbers are hair stylists. All chefs are cooks but not all cooks are chefs. So also all reporters are journalists but not all journalists are reporters - Period.
Only as you narrow down and zero-in on specializations and hone those particular skills are you entitled to specific titles? Until then you loiter in the broader corridors of professionalism.
And when you set out to do that you may encounter some hidden skeletons suppressing you with its magical powers, and to undo which you may require immense courage.
The faster you muster that courage, the quicker you get to be free. That is only if you are 'AWARE' that you need to work on yourself.
Always remember, no human being is perfect as yet not to harbour at least one irky snooper.

P.S: If you harbour the fear of speaking and are AWARE it resides inside you, then you are at the right place. I've decided to share my battle with the spoken word on this blog. If you choose to join me in the war, rest assured you'll be victorious for I BELIEVE in myself.