Recently, I have had several clients and students in public speaking classes who quit or tried to quit classes because I asked them to tell stories from their personal or professional lives. I could not figure out what was causing people to stop their progress in public speaking when they were doing so well in classes. This has perplexed me for a few months.
So, I took this issue into a meditation session and asked internally to be given some insight that could help me help my clients. The answer finally came to me! Some people are afraid that if they open the door to share a little about themselves they will then open a floodgate and share everything about themselves.
I recall that earlier in my life, I felt too transparent. I thought I was a glass bubble and that people could see everything about me. It made me withhold a lot of information from others!
This is a boundary issue. We need to give ourselves permission to share some things but not others. We each have a few experiences or qualities that we do not want to go public. And we need to feel that it is OK to retain some things for only ourselves.
Transparency has an appropriate limit. That limit is different for different people. If you are someone who needs more privacy, then you can choose to share some of your stories but not all of them. Give yourself permission to reveal stories and qualities that show what you are comfortable showing. Try to push your comfort level a little but don’t ask yourself to share deeper stories until you are ready to do so.
Remember that there are different levels of relationships in your life. Be aware of your boundaries especially in a work environment. Transparency at work does not mean sharing deep personal issues with co-workers. It means being authentic about your position on work-related topics, problems and solutions.
My coaching work is very much about transparency and authenticity because that is when people can truly impact others and shine in the world. But I am also respectful of people’s boundaries. Boundaries are what make us feel safe in the world. In order to shine, we must first feel safe being who we are in the world. The more we create appropriate boundaries, the safer we feel to share deeper parts of ourselves.
I know I talk about grounding often, but it is the one thing that can help us establish a healthy boundary. Learn to ground yourself in your body. It will make you feel safe and strong and confident inside, so you can share yourself more fully with the world. If you want a grounding meditation to start practicing, you can watch my short grounding video or purchase the full meditation as an audio.
I am Sandra Zimmer, author of It’s Your Time to Shine and founder of Self-Expression Center. I offer group training and individual coaching that can help you transform fear of speaking and become a compelling, persuasive speaker so that you can shine when you share your ideas, insights and expertise. You can download a copy of my Grounding Exercise or an eBook version of It’s Your Time to Shine at www.self-expression.com.