Do you get nervous meeting a lot of new people?
I do, particularly when it is a social function.
I find it less intimating if it’s purely a business related event – a meeting, for instance, or a hearing – because then I can hide behind my knowledge or experience (or pretend, if it’s not something I know that well).
But I find large social events such as formal dinners or networking conferences nerve-wracking. I can’t hide behind any knowledge – no, it’s just me, my personality and whatever impression that makes. Scary. Multiple my nervousness by – oh, I don’t know, HEAPS – when it’s an event where I know very few, or indeed no one else there. No one. At all. Auugghh! Just thinking about it makes my stomach churn.
Going to an event where I know no one, but where I need to make the most of the opportunities and get to meet people is one of the most scary experiences I can imagine (well, other than super scary rides which my stomach can’t handle – but so, so much worse than public speaking, for instance).
Yet this is exactly what I experienced this Friday and Saturday. And you know – they turned out ok after all. Do you want to know how?
Let me introduce you to Jason, aka my inner butterfly. But first – a few points about nervousness.
Anxiety – is it a bad or a good emotion to have and feel?
I was fortunate to listen to my friend Chris Helder speak on Friday. Chris is someone I know outside of his professional role as a highly sought-after speaker in the areas of sales, communication and leadership. And he brings a lot of energy to his presentations, as you can see from his site.
(Incidentally, I find it fascinating to watch someone I know from one context performing a very different role – very insightful).
Anyway, one of the aspects Chris was speaking about involved fear – nervousness – a feeling that ‘usually manifests itself in the pit of your stomach where you feel a flutter of anxiety’ (all quotes are from his book ‘The Power of Influence’). It’s a feeling many of us are tempting to try to ignore – to avoid the experience that triggers the feel, for instance, or to procrastinate. However, avoidance doesn’t often work in the long run – and it can make us grumpy in the process.
An alternative approach is to reframe how we think about this emotion. Chris likes to think of the fluttering feeling as ‘a gift from your body – an action signal – something completely positive’.
As he says:
‘What if the flutter in your stomach was not anxiety? Instead what if it was something beautiful? What if it was a butterfly? The butterfly is the messenger. The butterfly is coming to help you. It is your inner voice trying to steer you in the right direction. It is telling you to do something. The butterfly is telling you to take action in a positive way to make your work and life better than it is’.
So – the flutters are positive, like a guardian butterfly. Hmmm. I can live with that.
And then Chris asked us to personalise our internal butterfly in some way, to give it a voice (he went for a deep southern accent, for his own butterfly – maybe that’s his midwest background). And as I thought about it – I thought of Jason.
My butterfly – Jason Statham
I’m not so strong on accents – I’m a bit more of a visual person. So I moved past the voice and went straight for the look. And Jason popped into my head.
Now – I’m not a big fan of most of his movies (the Guy Richie ones not withstanding). And I think if I met him in real life, I’d find him fairly intimidating.
But as a butterfly, well …he has a certain, um, presence about him. He’s been appearing in quite a few magazines and interviews lately and he has been noticed (by me, anyway). Oh yes, I’ve done my research.
He is athletic – even graceful, as a former member of the British diving team.
Not someone to be messed with – martial arts expert – and streetwise, as former lackey selling stolen goods on the street. And did I mention, strong and athletic? (I think I did, but here’s another example):
And he rocks a turtleneck (finally, a connection, as I too wear a lot of high necked jumpers through winter. We are so similar! – well, except for the gun, and the six pack – and the lack of hair, and ..)
Most specifically, he is not someone to be messed with.
As a butterfly, Jason expects action. Yes, he does.
Jason, the Industry dinner, and the Voices of 2015 Kidspot Function
Jason didn’t really show up on Friday night – consequently I procrastinated and arrived late, and found the evening quite challenging.
I hadn’t twigged to the idea of inviting Jason along, which is a shame, as he scrubs up pretty well (opportunity for another gratuitous photo of Jason Statham, just because …).
On Saturday, I was part of a blogging workshop from 8.30am until 5pm. Over 150 people were there – many flying in from interstate (not that I knew that – I hadn’t realised it was such a big deal until I was there). I knew no one (I recognised faces from some blog posts). Most of them, however, were there with friends, or meeting up with people – most had been blogging for a while and it was a reunion for many. Very intimating.
Luckily, I wasn’t alone. Jason was pushing me along, in a very clichéd way (clearly he gets all his phrases from an online cockney dictionary, but anyway it worked):
‘Get on wid it”
“There’s your chance, innit?’
‘Blimey! get on wiv i’ woman. Nuff said, yeah?’
And so I’d introduce myself to one person after the other, and you know, they were quite friendly. And it was actually a really good day. I left feeling a lot clearer, and a lot more connected with some fellow bloggers, who I’m looking forward to keeping in touch with. The day was a success. Yay!
Who would have thought? Thanks Jason!
‘Huh? ‘Put a sock in it, yeah?’
Ok. Jason’s not good with compliments.
And by the end, we were pretty tired, and a bit tired of each other. I mean, that man / butterfly is INTENSE. But he does inspire action. Oh yes.
Do you have particular activities or events which you find cause anxiety?
How do you handle it – would visualising a butterfly, for instance, work for you? And if so, I’d love to know what your butterfly looks or sounds like!
Note – this isn’t a sponsored post. Chris and his wife Lucy really are friends, and I am writing this because the timing of the message was just so, well, timely. So I thought it was worth sharing with you!