What I was meaning to say, is…

Uh, oh...

I’ve found a new area I can use some help. Actually, I’ve had this issue for a while, I just have been so busy taking care of other things, that I haven’t paid a lot of attention to this. It’s being able to make myself understood under pressure. This matters more and more, as I get into situations that are more challenging than the everyday. Speaking at work with people and in meetings, speaking to groups of people. Speaking with people whom I really need to communicate with. I tend to get tongue-tied and stumble around a lot. Which doesn’t reflect well on me in a work situation — or make me look like I know what I’m talking about in general.

This was not that big of a problem with me before, because I didn’t really talk much before. I just kept quiet. I kept to myself. I didn’t volunteer information and I didn’t go out of my way to discuss things with people.

Now, however, I’m talking more with people, and I’m finding myself stumbling over myself at just the worst times. Sitting in a meeting with higher-ups. Talking with people who need me to handle something and handle it well. Interacting with people under tense circumstances — just the times when I need to be at my best, I can be at my worst.

It really sucks. But getting all bent out of shape about it is not going to change anything. If anything, it makes it worse.

This is something I really need to handle. I can’t keep on this way, I need to learn how to deal with this. I can think of a few things I can do:

  1. Plan what I say before I say it. – If I’m in a meeting, I can think through what I’m going to say before I say it. I can keep a pad of paper with me and jot down some ideas to organize my thoughts before I spek.
  2. Say less, not more. – I tend to try to pack everything into one rushed statement. This, I believe, is because I’ve not really developed my skill at back-and-forth conversations. So, I try to say everything at once. I don’t need to do that, actually. In fact, saying less tends to be better than saying more.
  3. Limit what I say and let that be enough. – This relates to saying less, but it’s a little different. Limiting what I say has to do with sticking to a single topic, not having to exhaustively cover every detail of a subject and letting it go, even if I haven’t expressed and discussed and covered every single topic I’ve thought of.
  4. Don’t fret about what other people think about me. – This is the hardest one. But it’s very important. If I start to fret about what other people may or may not think about me, it sets me up for more stress and more problems. More tongue-tied struggles. But if I can relax, it doesn’t need to get the best of me. When I fret, all of the above become much worse. Besides, what I think others think of me may not even be true.

It’s all a process, of course. And all of us have places where we can improve. It keeps us engaged. It keeps us honest. It also keeps us on our toes. Communication is key for so many things, so the better I am at this business of making myself understood, and not giving up to the anxiety and self-consciousness, the better.

Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

7 thoughts on “What I was meaning to say, is…”

  1. This is very interesting to me. I am married to “Words of Wisdom.” Matt has self-described communication problems. I have come to realize that when he asks, “Does that make sense?” he’s not putting me down but rather he’s expressing a lack of confidence in what he just said. Our communication is really great. I do know that he struggles at work to make himself understood, but I wonder if it’s realistic or if it’s only his perspective, as with me. I have just now discovered this blog and I’m interested to tool around on here. Thanks for what you’re doing!

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  2. Hi Diana –

    Thanks for writing. And thanks for your kind words.

    It’s interesting – I have the same problem at times. People tend to think that when I’m doing a “reality check” on what I just said… when I’m trying to make sure my thinking is proper, or I’m trying to get clarification because I may have missed something (but I’m not sure what)… that I am criticizing them. Far from it! I’m just trying to make sure I understand — and really respect the relationship, so that I can be as present and as capable as possible.

    I’m glad to hear your communication is great. His troubles at work could be realistic or his perspective. It is always hard to tell. Sometimes when I am most certain I’ve “got” something, is when I really don’t. That makes things pretty interesting at times, I can tell you!

    For me, the main thing is to keep a sense of humor, not take myself too seriously, and also remember that there are lots of people who have communication issues, who don’t “get” stuff, and who struggle for various reasons, not all of the TBI. I guess it’s just part of being human.

    Have a great day.

    BB

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  3. Experienced a TBI about a year ago and split the side of my head open and had to get 8 staples in my head. Worst feeling ever. Getting tongue tied is definitely one of the difficulties I’m having now and I started using these methods to help me out. I’m an officer in a student organization at my University and people always come to me with questions an sometimes I really am misunderstood. Things have been up and down, but I’m glad I found this blog to help with my issues.

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  4. I agree, I often get tongue tied if having an off-enegy day or someone throws me with a question. I find ‘less is more’ cause I will get nervous and over answer a question and give too many options. The other method I use is to break apart their question and give the response in sections after I take a moment, put them on hold and collect my thoughts. If someone throws me with more than 3-4 questions it throws me and I need to take a breathe, then I just ask “what was the other thing you were asking, I’m sorry I could hear you”, rather than saying I can only remember so much!

    TMI ten years ago and still learning to find ways to find my way…

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  5. Oh, yes – those compensatory techniques. And the little “covers” for the gaps in our faculties… I usually act like I was really thinking hard about the other things they said to me, when folks throw more than 2 questions at me. And I was so wrapped up in those other things, that I missed the third… or fourth… thing they said/asked. That generally seems to work, and it makes me look smarter, rather than more idiotic. Sometimes, I try to fake my way through, but I’m often found out. Ah, well, so it goes.

    Still learning…

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