Earlier this week, I led our monthly faculty meeting where we heard reports, talked about a few issues, and had to decide how to move forward on an issue that had the chance to be contentious. As I stood at the front of the room, there was a moment where I had to remind myself to not let my feelings about the subject drive any of the discussion or the decision - it was my job to lead the meeting, not to do the work of the group. I had to be a non-anxious presence in the room so that the group could do their best work.
One more story...as I sat and talked with several individuals this week, I again had to remind myself to be a non-anxious presence in the room. The conversations were difficult and I could feel myself becoming personally involved in several of them. What I had to remind myself of during these conversations was that I could be personally involved AND remain a non-anxious presence in the room so that the two of us could do our best work.
So how can one remain a non-anxious presence in a room, in a group, or in a one-on-one conversation? Here are a few thoughts:
- remind yourself that you are not God, nor has anyone appointed you to be God...you are there as a facilitator of discussion and decision making
- believe that the group or the other person has much to offer and that their decision is their decision to make...not yours
- be aware of the signals that your body or mind tell you when you start to get anxious, and then pull back...deep breaths always seem to help me
- learn to stay quiet, and not to always fill silence with words...let the quietness of the room or the conversation be a time of reflection
- be prepared so that you can focus on the issue at hand and not have to worry about your own performance. Know what you need to know to run the meeting or have the conversation - and practice your role (and what you might need to say) beforehand
- remember that most decisions are not life and death
Finally, I think that the most important aspect of being able to be a non-anxious presence is knowing that ones self worth does not come from the approval of the group, the team, or the individual to whom you might be talking. Knowing that you are loved and worthy despite what others think of you goes a long way in staying relaxed when the pressure is on...and that can make all the difference in the world - for yourself and for the group or individual with whom you are engaging.