5 Ways To Deal With The Fear of Judgement

Many of the people i speak with daily will share bad experiences and due to a lack of experience, become uncomfortable with the prospect of speaking in public. As a result, opportunities to present are generally avoided and doors leading to progress closed. When you dig deeper you discover the increased anxiety/fear is not because of public speaking but public perception and fearing judgement for poor performance.

Context helps us to understand why. I am sure most of us will agree that when speaking to friends or family, we can be our authentic selves and are not worried about making a mistake or saying something wrong. This is because we do not perceive there to be any expectations placed on us by individuals we share our lives with and have seen us at our best and worst. We can be instinctive in our interactions with the fear of judgement removed in most scenarios. Now this is very different when speaking at a final stage interview or to a larger than normal audience. The stakes are higher, environment feels more tense and we start overthinking. This allows the fear of judgement to fester and impact performance as a result.

A fear of negative evaluation

Feeling fearful of negative evaluation by others can cause a speaker to become self-focused, assessing their awkward appearance, increased heart rate or the number of filler words in their speech. Positive aspects of the performance, such as tonal variation or pace are disregarded with a vicious cycle of internal negative bias developed. Increased doubt in your ability is present and reinforced by experiences where we personally felt we did not do well but this only ends up making things worse.

I spoke with a senior manager who shared his most recent experience presenting at work. Not only was he speaking to the leadership team but his subordinates were also present. Although the first 5-10 minutes went to plan, he started to overthink and became too conscious of the external context. Not only was he looking to impress his managers but he also needed to come across confident and self-assured to his junior staff. In his mind, performing badly would have people question his position and effect his future prospects. Our discussion helped him to realise that fear of judgement and what other people think will only halt our progress and stop us from fully being ourselves.

As you continue to be confined by the negative opinions you believe people will have of you, it will keep you trapped and you’ll continue to play it safe and avoid centre stage.

Years later, you’ll look back and wonder, why did i care so much about others opinions? why have i missed out on so many good opportunities?

And to that i say, it’s not worth it.

It’s time to break free from the mental prison that is self-imposed, reclaim your freedom and start achieving what you first thought was impossible.

Overcoming your fears

As a fear of judgement can worsen your performance, it is important to find ways to deal with it.

1) Learn about yourself. Fear is human emotion designed to protect us from harm and is regularly based on perception which is inaccurate. Once it begins to impact performance, accept that theirs challenges that you need to solve. Start a journey of self-discovery, perform a root cause analysis and begin to break the cycle.

2) Know your own strengths and limitations. If you know what you are good at and the opportunities to improve, you are less likely to be effected by what others say or think about you. Accept your current state and know your limitations better than anyone else. The impact of others judgement becomes irrelevant because you are already doing work to become better.

3) Inner Critic. The voice in your head can get pretty loud and the internal dialogue is almost always negative. Improve your ability to recognise your inner critic that will creep up and grow self-sabotage and self-doubt in areas we want to start developing self-confidence and resilience.

4) Start saying yes. If anxiety keeps holding you back, it will not get any better if you continue to avoid situations that make you feel uncomfortable. Start becoming vocal around the office, ask for opportunities to present during meetings. As your experience grows, so you will your confidence. Just be patient and the results will come with time. 5) Invest in yourself. If you’re not changing it, you’re are choosing it. If you are not happy with your current skillset then do something about it. Invest in your personal growth and well-being. If it’s getting that gym membership you keep delaying or starting a public speaking course, give yourself a real opportunity to get better.

Embarce your Individuality and start giving yourself a chance.

Believe In Greatness

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