Two weeks has absolutely flown by and at the same time I feel like I’ve been at the company for much longer than I have. It’s incredible how quickly you fall into new rhythms and norms without much conscious effort. I think I really need to start writing a few notes down at the end of each day of what I did just so I remember by the end of the week; looking back it’s just one big blur of emails and coffee!

I’m certainly feeling a lot more confident and comfortable around the office- sending off meeting invites with ease and walking around with an air of purpose (i.e. to the pantry for a cup of tea 80% of the time). The thing I think I learnt the most about this week however was communicating effectively with my superiors under pressure.

Diary Wk2

Ask anyone who knows me well and they will confirm that I am an ideas girl (mainly my mum- who has the pleasure of being the sounding board for a new business concept most weeks). Those same people would probably also tell you that in my excitement and flurry of ideas, I can sometimes not be the best at conveying them in the most concise and logical manner. Everything will make complete sense in my head- I’ve thought of every pitfall and advantage, challenge and opportunity and probably a few alternative options if Plan A doesn’t work, but when it comes to telling someone about my idea, the need to prove that I’ve ‘thought of everything’ often actually translates into one a huge mess of me talking around in circles trying to explain myself. It kind of feels like my ideas are 100 toddlers who have had too much red cordial running around inside my head and I have to try to get them all to form an orderly line. I can usually curb this tendency with some good preparation- a few dot points on a piece of paper or some practice runs explaining the concept to others, but it’s definitely a skill in development. I understand the theory of how to best convey my message- saying the most important things first and not assuming that someone can understand how I manage to jump from one abstract thought to another seemingly unrelated one but instead giving them a logical thought process to follow- but putting this into practice is easier said than done.

Enter my current internship experience. In the corporate world everyone has limited time (or there is at least an illusion of limited time… I’m yet to decide which one is more accurate…). Particularly in the case of more senior managers, a moment of their time is like gold and you certainly feel the pressure to make the most of it when it’s made available to you. So as if trying to get my 100 toddlers to form a line wasn’t hard enough, this is like if I had to get them all in line in the 30 seconds before their parents came back and discovered the mayhem. I’ve never been naturally gifted with performing under this sort of pressure. It’s taken me several years to be able to perform well in exams and tests- several of my school teachers were baffled by my underperformance in tests when I could explain the concepts perfectly outside of the pressured situation. It’s times like these that I’m grateful to my school for getting us do exams for each subject since year six as this helped me develop a fairly solid coping strategy for these situations, but now it seems I need to do the same for presenting my ideas under pressure.

This may sound backward, but I am actually quite excited to have discovered a professional weakness for me to work on because I know that as soon as I identify a weakness I can get to work on improving myself. They say “ignorance is bliss”, but in this context, the weaknesses you’re not aware of are of can be incredibly detrimental while those you are aware of are incredibly powerful. Even in this last week I’ve felt an improvement.

At the end of last week I had a meeting with my manager which I walked out of feeling fairly unsatisfied with what I’d managed to convey. I’d felt like more of a passive attendee than an active contributor with valuable points to make. So the next meeting I had with her I made sure I was more prepared. I had a long list of things I wanted to make sure I raised and in the meeting I asked for a couple of moments to look over my notes for anything I had missed rather than let myself get too overwhelmed in the pressure of the moment. I made sure I wasn’t afraid to speak up and reminded myself that she wouldn’t have had me there if she didn’t want to hear from me. Of course, there’s always room for improvement but that’s what I like to call a little win.

Aside from continuing to work on the translation of my manic thought processes into comprehensible professional language, this week I’m hoping to take a bit more time for myself outside of work. This week was really fun, spending almost every night out with friends (a visit to the peak with Tini, yoga with Ryan, dinner and drinks with the Aussie-NCP crew…), but it was extremely exhausting and I felt like I was running really fast to just stay in the same place. I hardly cooked this week and sleep was majorly compromised. It takes a lot of energy to keep on top of my constantly overthinking and overanalysing brain so I am only making things harder for myself when I don’t give my body the right fuels to work properly. So here’s hoping for a less manic week with some more time to look after myself.

Have a wonderful week!

Gemma

I’d love to hear if anyone else has experienced the same struggle with conveying their ideas concisely under pressure and has some handy tips they can share so feel free to leave your thoughts below!

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1 Comment

  1. Liam Clancy

    Four words I’ve found very helpful in similar situations and in public speaking. Success, Leadership, Confidence and Value.
    Success – always lead with a description of what success could look like and what the benefits are for the listener from your perspective. Leadership – Extend the current accepted position in a progressive, positive direction by articulating why first then a range of ways how. Confidence is a what you want to engender in others and that is very difficult if you are not feeling it yourself, saying that you’re not confident about an idea may sound like a good idea but it’s not unless you are genuinely unsure of your ideas. Be very aware of the different cultural attitudes towards presentation of ideas. What western cultures see as confidence others may see as arrogance and even insubordination, not all cultures are supportive of innovation. Value what you believe in and don’t fall into the trap of cultural relativity. Know what value you add from the perspective of others and develop the skills and capabilities that respond to the situation and context.
    The stages of formation of a team are also worth regular professional reflection on. Identifying and validation of the difference between personal and professional boundaries is also a major milestone. The combined reflection on Theory and Practice creates a praxis point on which to build confidence and competency and it does so inherently within the process. Answering the question ‘Why’ we see and do things uncovers our motivation. Best of luck this week. Xx

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