10/12/2013 07:44 GMT | Updated 26/03/2014 07:59 GMT

Five Steps to Communicate With Confidence and Ease

Do you feel needy for approval and want to be liked by everyone? Do you sometimes find you automatically say yes without considering the consequences?

Do you feel needy for approval and want to be liked by everyone?

Do you sometimes find you automatically say yes without considering the consequences?

I used to struggle around communicating effectively as I lacked confidence and therefore was carrying around habits I had been using since being a child.

I became a martyr, and ended up full of resentments as because I was lacking in confidence people took advantage and mistook my being nice for being a fool...

However not everyone is lacking in confidence and a people-pleaser, striving to win approval; some say yes because they dread confrontation of any kind.

These 5 steps will ensure whatever the situation, you communicate with confidence and ease.

1. Take a deep breath

On average, 38% of our message comes from our tone of voice, so when being assertive it is crucial we take that into consideration. Breathing relaxes the muscles around the jaw, which tend to tighten and affect the way we sound. Talking quickly tends to go with dominant and aggressive behaviour, so bear that in mind. If we speak in a high-pitched voice we are reverting to childhood, and will instantly lose the other person's respect. Breathing deeply and speaking slowly will not only display confidence but also counteract many of the anxious reactions that can be detected in our voice.

2. Practise, prepare, plan

We need to get really clear and be fully rehearsed on what we are going to say and how to respond to possible reactions from the other person.

3. Talk to yourself

Never underestimate the power of the spoken word, whether to ourselves or another person; what we say to ourselves feeds our beliefs and in turn our perception of the world. The brain hears this mental chatter and believes it to be fact and will adjust behaviour accordingly. Telling ourselves we are confident, capable and strong is powerful.

4. Mind your language

Remember that if we get triggered, so can other people. Language is crucial if we want to defuse rather than escalate a situation. Aggressive language is insulting, bossy and argumentative. Being patronising is also offensive. Telling people to calm down is being passive-aggressive. Saying 'I understand, but...' can often start a row. Many aggressive statements start with 'you should...', 'you must...' or 'you can't...' To feel confident and display confidence you have to change these to 'I appreciate how you feel, but this is how I feel...' When we use the word 'I' it shows we are owning our own thoughts and feelings, rather than putting them onto the other person. It is also very empowering and builds cooperation and understanding.

5. Body language

The body communicates a huge percentage of our message. If we avoid eye contact, we are being passive. If we clench our fists or point our fingers, we are being aggressive. To be assertive and display confidence it's essential to limit hand movements to soft, flowing gestures that support our words. Look the other person in the eye. We must be really focused with our message - voice, body and hands.

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