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How Not to Let Fear Paralyze Your Ability to Communicate Effectively

It's surprising how often we fail -- or just fail to act in a timely manner -- because we've let fear prevent us from acting decisively or being our best. Frequently, these fears are communication-related (you no doubt know the old saw about people fearing public speaking more than death). Well, in the Harvard Business Review, JD Schramm recently tackled this tricky topic with advice about how to cope with a variety of common fears.

Schramm has advice for a number of communication scenarios, such as delivering presentations, having one-on-one conversations, sending difficult e-mails, and more. Here are some of his most interesting nuggets:

Presentations. Schramm suggests practicing your presentation in the same location you'll give the actual pitch, if possible. Ideally, you should also practice it in front of a couple of supportive friends or co-workers, since that will reinforce positive feelings when you go live.

One-on-one conversations. If you have to have a difficult conversation, you might put it off waiting for the "perfect time," which, of course, doesn't exist. Force your hand first thing in the morning by sending an e-mail saying that you need to have a delicate conversation -- that will help prepare you for the meeting and ensure that it actually occurs.

E-mail. Have to write a difficult e-mail, but you're not ready -- and the recipient is expecting an immediate reply? Send a two-parter. Fire off a short reply right away acknowledging receipt, and say that you will send a detailed, thoughtful reply soon. You just bought yourself a day to craft the right e-mail message.

Be sure to check out the entire article for more tricky communication strategies.

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