Discover How To Drop The Performance And Just Be Yourself

 Are you stuck in the performance game? Does every conversation or interaction you have feel like it has to live up to something? Do you constantly feel like you’re being evaluated?

Today, we’re going to discuss various ways to become more relaxed around other people so that you can start putting yourself out there and stop judging everything you do.

The first thing you have to understand is that talking to people is not a performance. Many of us approach conversation as if we’re being graded on it . . . usually by ourselves. If you feel tense or pressured or if you’re “observing” yourself while you’re having a conversation, that’s how you know you’re in performance mode.

It doesn’t stop there, either! Most of the time, we also take a moment to analyzing ourselves after the conversation is complete: Was I good enough? Did I say the right things? Were they reacting to me well?

Performance mode is problematic for a number of reasons: Firstly, when you’re in performance mode, you’re on the spot. You’re being evaluated. It’s similar to the mentality of taking an exam. When you’re taking an exam, are you spontaneous and fun and witty and humorous, or are you closed off and nervous and stilted and awkward? Option B, right?

Performance mode puts us in the mind frame of thinking things have to go a certain way or the conversation is a failure. When we start to think things aren’t going right, we freeze up and become tense . . . and the people around us can feel it. While that may not be a complete deal-breaker, it may push people away or detract from the outcome that you want in a given situation.

Another important factor to consider is that in performance mode, your focus us completely on you: How am I doing? What do I look like? What do people think of me? You become obsessed with your own presence. Guess what happens when we let that happen? We completely ignore the other person’s presence. Would you want to have a conversation with someone who was ignoring your presence?

This is the same for everything from a casual date to an important sales meeting:

The people we’re talking to want our attention! They want us to know we’re focused on them and their needs.

When we place the focus on ourselves, it kills our ability to do whatever we’re there to do.

Why is it so difficult to take the focus off of ourselves when we’re in a conversation? Well, in part, it’s because we’ve got our priorities misaligned: Conversation isn’t about proving something—it’s about connection.

So, what is connection and how do we create it? I think there are two components: Curiosity and self-expression.

Curiosity is a huge part of connection, whether it’s business or pleasure. After all, you can’t connect with people if you don’t care about them. Figure out what sparks your interest about the person or his product, and you’re on your way. Who is this person? What makes this person tick? What is this person looking to change in his business? What are this person’s challenges? What solutions can I provide for this business?

The second part of connection is self-expression. Now that we’ve refocused our attention, we need to make sure we get involved! We have to express ourselves. Otherwise, it feels like we’re not even there, and who wants to be in a conversation like that? Expressing yourself can be as simple as sharing something about yourself—a story, some information, some humor or an interesting thought . . . anything!

Not only will self-expression help you feel connected, it will help the people you speak with feel connected as well, because on some level they want to know about you (even if it’s purely a business situation). When you stay closed off in a business situation, people tend to be a little mistrusting. The same goes for your personal life: you have to share.

Here’s a little exercise for you: If you notice yourself getting tense before or during conversations throughout the week, or if you find yourself replaying or judging yourself afterward, I want you to stop what you’re doing and notice that you’re in performance mode. Then I want you to give yourself the permission to exit performance mode and enter connection mode. Get curious about the person you’re talking to and find one or two ways to express yourself within the context of that conversation. If you do those two things, you’ll find you become more relaxed. That’s when you can really start connecting with people, and that’s when the magic happens.

Please feel free to “like,” subscribe, and leave comments below. Get out there and start making connections, and let us know how it goes for you! I love to hear about your experiences and see you all learn and grow from each other.

Until we meet again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know that you’re awesome.

Dr. Aziz