The Comfort Zone
posted on January 25, 2010
You are coming into an unfamiliar meeting situation for the first time. It may be that you are visiting a networking group, going to a new meeting in your company, attending a conference, or visiting you spouse’s family reunion. Every day we have new situations that are stressful, but we also want to make a good impression and hopefully even enjoy the event. For this example, we will talk about business situations, though many of the solution points are valid in personal situations as well. So let’s break down the problem.
a) It’s a new environment
b) It’s an awkward group situation
c) The people are unfamiliar to you
d) You are a little worried
The basic answer to this problem is that you need to get comfortable. If you are comfortable, your confidence will be higher, your demeanor will be more upbeat and your nerves will be calmer. So how do we get comfortable in a new situation? We have a simple four-point strategy.
The first feature of our strategy is to remind yourself that you are valuable. If you do not find yourself valuable, others have a harder time seeing it as well. The reason I start with this personal reminder is that many times we are so worried about what others will think of us that we forget that all of them have been in this situation before themselves. They are people just like you. They may even be in exactly the same situation as you are right now, worried and stressed with butterflies in their stomach. So first and foremost, remember that what matters is how you think about yourself, not how others think of you.
The next point to do is explore. Get primed for this endeavor. Find out from any source what’s to be expected. If there is a web-site, check it out. If you know someone who has experienced this before, talk to him about it. Find out the dress code. Check the web for any information about any past meetings, conferences, or events. The more you know about the environment, the easier it is to become comfortable in it.
The next aspect of this “comfort” strategy is to come prepared. Go to the event early and meet a few folks. Find your bearings. Check out the restrooms. Pick a good seat. You have done your research so dress appropriately, have any name-badges required and bring your business cards. Be sure to always have your calendar ready and a pad to take notes. Every meeting, every function, every situation calls for you to come prepared. Being prepared is not difficult and will eliminate much of the stress and anxiety of the event.
The final key point is to listen. Ask questions, take notes and listen. Many people tend to talk and talk and talk. They are nervous, so they talk. They are stressed, so they talk. Since they are talking, they are not listening. This can be trouble. Listening, actively listening is such a rare thing that it will impress almost every person. Everyone else in your situation will be talking, or waiting to talk, so you can be the listener, waiting to listen. You will find very quickly that your confidence will rise as you have success listening. You are making a good impression. You are learning. You are in control. Only talk about yourself, or your job, or your business when asked directly. Look every person in the eye and keep your answers short and to the point. Remember, you are “the listener” and your job is to listen.
Value yourself - Explore – Come Prepared – Listen. This strategy sounds easy, and it is. Try it out and see for yourself and see how much better you feel in "the comfort zone."
Author: Brad Closson
Tags: comfort, management, management consulting, Training