How to Build Confidence in Group Conversations


Doctor Neha: Welcome to TalkRx with Doctor Neha. We are filming in Costa Rica, and today I have Becca with me. She has been thinking about her communication and said she’d be willing to share her question so that all of you could learn as she does. Thank you, Becca.

Becca: Thank you.

Doctor Neha: Tell me what you’ve been thinking about.

Becca: One thing that comes up is when I’m one on one or with someone I know and comfortable, I am a pretty good communicator, but when it comes to group talking, I get nervous and I kind of shut down. I get nervous if I’m in a big group, like a circle of women, which I often am.

Doctor Neha: Kind of like we are here.

Becca: Exactly. When it’s coming around to be my turn, I know exactly what I want to say, but then I lose it that moment. It’s like I get wrapped up in overthinking, or in my head, and I just get stuck. Words get stuck. I get a little nervous.

Doctor Neha: Okay, so it sounds like you stand in your power when you feel comfortable with someone, or you’ve known them a while. Now how do you know you’re comfortable with someone.

Becca: When I’ve known them a while, or even if I’ve just met them and feel resonant with them. They’re easy to talk to.

Doctor Neha: Okay. So if you have rapport with somebody or known them for a long time, you feel differently.

Becca: Yeah.

Doctor Neha: When you’re in a group of people you don’t know, it’s almost like you give away your power, because you’re nervous, you’re in your head, you aren’t sure, and then you forget when it’s your turn. Is that right?

Becca: Yes, and I’ve actually gotten better at it. In fact, even if I don’t know anyone, sometimes it’s better than if I know a few people [because then I start to question myself]. Or if I’m in a group of powerful, incredibly articulate people, then I’m like, Oh, what I’m going to say isn’t good enough. You know what I mean? And then I get more nervous, and then I get stuck in my head, and then the words don’t come out as well.

Doctor Neha: So you start judging yourself.

Becca: Yes.

Doctor Neha: So it’s better not to know them. See, this is important, because what you’re telling me is how you know when you trust someone else, but really it’s how you know when you trust yourself. Because you’re saying, “If I resonate with someone else then I feel free. If I’ve known them a long time, I feel free. You know what? If I don’t know anybody, I feel free. If I know them a little bit, I start judging myself.” Yeah?

Becca: Yeah.

Doctor Neha: So the inner critic takes over and undermines you. At a time when you think it’s most important, right?

Becca: Yes.

Doctor Neha: Isn’t that interesting?

Becca: It is.

Doctor Neha: I wrote a book called TalkRx, and in it I cover five levels of listening. Can we go through those?

Becca: Yes.

Doctor Neha: All right. The first level of listening is when I’m distracted. You’re going to ask me a question, and I’m on my phone or I’m on my laptop, and you’re still asking me a question. I basically say, “No, keep going. Yeah, I can hear you.” So I’m either distracted, or I think I know what you’re going to say because you’ve told it to me a million times before, or I don’t really care. Just channel your inner teenager and you’ll remember level one listening. It’s called closed listening.
What you’re speaking about is level two listening. Level two listening is head listening. There are three ways that this plays out, but you’re talking about the first one, which is the planner. If we’re in a circle and someone’s saying, “Let’s go around and all share x, y, z,” you’re busy planning your spontaneous answer. Now, you have a positive intention there. What’s your positive intention?

Becca: To come off authentically. My positive intention is, I want it to be real, I want it to be true, but I want it to look good or sound good or resonate with the group.

Doctor Neha: You want to sound smart; you want to sound articulate.

Becca: Yes.

Doctor Neha: We’re back to this authentic thing. But being authentic isn’t any of those things, right?

Becca: Right.

Doctor Neha: You had said, “I want to be authentic.” And you are authentic right now.

Becca: Yes, whatever it is that comes through.

Doctor Neha: Right, we didn’t rehearse this.

Becca: Right.

Doctor Neha: And you’re just you. Do you feel authentic?

Becca: I do.

Doctor Neha: So that comes from trusting yourself not trusting others. That’s where the real power comes from. So whenever anxiety—fear, anxiety or nervousness—is a failed attempt to control the future. The way we turn that around is by grounding ourselves in self-trust. You start by thinking about how you know you trust others, because that’ll give you a clue. Then you ask yourself about the places where you don’t trust others, “What is it that I don’t trust about myself?”

Becca: Mm-hmm. Thank you so much.

Doctor Neha: So if any of you at home find certain scenarios in which you feel confident and clear, maybe one-on-one but not in groups, or vice versa, pay attention. Look at how it is that you know you trust someone else. That’s always a clear way to start. Then when you decide you don’t trust someone else, bring it home. Ask yourself, “What is it that I don’t trust I’ll be able to do in their presence?” Any takeaways for you?

Becca: It is. It’s like so much comes from within me and that place of not trusting that it will be good enough, or not trusting myself that I can show up and be the me that I want to be. But the trust part, that’s where it’s at. Just letting myself be, letting it come through. As I’m going around judging how I think other people are going to think about me, I need to look at how I’m actually judging myself. You know what I mean?

Doctor Neha: It’s like a mirror.

Becca: Yeah.

Doctor Neha: Thank you so much.

Becca: Thank you.

Doctor Neha: I appreciate you coming on.

Doctor Neha: For any of you out there who would like to ask your question, I’d be happy to answer it. Tweet me at #askDoctorNeha. Until next time.


Awareness Prescription

To Build Confidence in Conversations

  1. Bring someone to mind whom you really trust. What makes you trust them?

  2. Bring someone to mind whom you DON’T trust. What contributed to you not trusting them? How did you come to that decision?

  3. Mirror Reflection Exercise: Ask yourself, “What might I not trust about myself in their presence?” (e.g., That I won’t speak up for myself or ask for what I need. That I won’t draw clear boundaries. That I won’t be able to handle the discomfort of being disappointed)

  4. Set your intention for how you want to show up to set the conversation up for success. (e.g., to come off authentically, to be honest and compassionate, to be curious and loving).


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