By JoJo Tabares
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” -2 Timothy 1:7 KJV
Fear in speaking with others is timidity or what we call shyness. According to Webster’s dictionary, shyness means “sensitive and hesitant in dealing with others”. This is not the spirit of power that should be present inside the Christian for we know that with the Lord all things are possible and, if the Lord is for us, who can be against us?
Research shows that 87% of what we do all day is communication related. Maybe that is why the Bible speaks about communication skills hundreds of times. The Father gives each of us a mission in life and something to say that someone needs to hear. He also tells us to go out and share the Good News. God doesn’t say this lightly knowing that some are born with confidence and some are born with shyness! He tells us this because He has put within each one of us the tools needed to stand up and share with His children each in our own way.
Many people mistakenly think that shyness is a character trait or a personality flaw. It is not. For the most part, it is the result of not being comfortable or experienced with certain aspects of communication for some period of time. The longer a person has experienced himself as shy, the stronger its hold over him. Communication is actually a set of skills that can be learned and must be practiced to reach mastery. Anyone and everyone can learn them. Not everyone will have the same aptitude, but all can learn to be comfortable and confident enough in order to complete the work the Lord has given them in their life!
The challenge is to find the appropriate key to unlock and let go of the shyness within. I liken learning communication skills to swimming because the analogy is fairly accurate. When teaching a young child to swim, a common technique is to throw them into the ocean or pool. The child is supposed to use instincts to get to the other side as they are carefully watched over by their parent. The idea is that when they get to the other side, they realize that they didn’t drown and actually accomplished the goal. Unfortunately, that method works only about half the time! The other half of the time it goes like this: The child is petrified! They are thrown into the water and panic sets in. Instinctively they thrash about and somehow make it to the other side. Instead of feeling relieved and excited that they accomplished their goal of swimming, they are now terrified of water and they vow never to do that again!
So it is with speech classes. Some children run into my classes, sit in the front row and can’t wait to get up to speak! The other half are kicked in by their parents, stand at the entrance wide-eyed resembling a deer in the headlights and sit down after some coaxing on my part. What happens inside that first speech class is critical! Will they feel comfortable enough to take more steps along the road to effective communication skills or will they grit their teeth and bear it making a solemn vow before God to avoid any further speaking opportunities that might come along?
The idea isn’t to get them through a speech class. The goal is to create a more confident and powerful speaker who will have the spirit of power in the Lord! To that end, I teach with humor. It disarms the fear allowing them to forget that they expected it to be hard and scary. I don’t throw them in the water. Instead, I have them stick their big toe in, giving them a chance to acclimate their body to the water’s temperature. This allows them to take baby steps further in the ocean we call communication.
Where did I get my training for this? Some might think it was at California State University, Northridge where I got my degree in Speech Communication, but they would be wrong. It was from a little girl who was terrified to speak- not only in public, but one on one. It was that little girl who grew up lonely and afraid of so many things. It was that painfully shy girl who missed out on so much. She taught me a lot about what shy children need. Many of my students thank me for the training she provided. Her name? JoJo.
JoJo Tabares holds a degree in Speech Communication, but it is her humorous approach to communication skills which has made her a highly sought-after Christian speaker and writer. Her articles appear in homeschool publications, such as Homeschool Enrichment Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, which also endorses her Say What You Mean curricula. You can also find JoJo on web sites such as Crosswalk.com and Dr.Laura.com. For more information on communication FUNdamentals and Christian-based communication skills for the whole family, please visit http://www.ArtofEloquence.com