One common advice that is often given to someone preparing for a speech is to rehearse in front of a mirror. This is one of those common wisdom that is not helpful.
What happens when you look into the mirror? You start to focus on yourself.
When you are practicing for a speech, you need to focus less about yourself, and more on what others are getting.
It’s not about you. It’s about the audience.
The Self-Absorbed Therapist
One time, I was so concerned about what I was saying wrongly to a client as he was beginning to pull away for the conversation. I kept pursuing with great curiosity if I said something wrong or my comments didn’t sit well with him.
He kept quiet.
And then he shook his head.
I couldn’t make any sense of this.
Until I hazard another guess…
“Or are you upset at yourself for not being able to handle this situation better than you would like to?”
“Is the self-chastising side playing up here?”
“Yes,” he replied. He began to tear up.
In the name of improvement, here I was so self-obsessed with “me, me, me,” when the situation calls for me to look outside of myself.
Embrace the Paradox
As we work hard to improve at our craft, we are confronted with a paradox.
What we say, how we say it, the use of vocal quality to communicate specific affect, all matters… But it’s not about you.
There is almost always something you can work on…and it’s not about you.
Cast your eyes outward. Empathy needs more outrospection, not introspection.
Thanks to Noah Buscher for the image.