Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why am I 'speakophobic'?

I was in a meeting few days back, which was held for new PhD students at EPFL. Roughly, 30 students of my batch were present. Everybody was asked to introduce himself and briefly tell about his motivation for PhD. It was not a big deal. I thought about my introduction and 1-2 sentences of motivaiton. I was feeling confident. But, slowly as the turn was coming closer to me, confidence started decaying at an exponential rate, construction of sentences started in my mind, revising every sentence again and again. Introduction part was easier, but motivation was causing some trouble. When, I was 2 turns away, words ceased to popup in my mind, mind was blocked, heartbeats went up, actually I could hear them clearly and was praying that the girl sitting next to me could not. Finally, I could manage speaking a few lines while fumbling in the pronunciation of some long difficult words. This was not my first experience of this kind of meeting and the situation was not better before either. So, I decided to analyse the situation and look for the possible causes of my horrible experiences like this.

I thought the possible situations when I face this problem. First, I noticed that as soon as I am concerned about being distinct (special) from others by what I am speaking, there is a problem. I become extra conscious by this thought which hinders my thinking process and affects my concentration. Actually, in the case mentioned above, I was not able to think anything else at the last moment just before speaking. Second possible source of problem is the thought that people sitting in front of me are not concerned about what I am speaking. It creates an inferiority complex. This situation normally arises when I am speaking in front of a crowd of my peers or superiors. Another very common problem is the lack of confidence in what I am speaking, i.e., the doubt that what I am speaking makes sense or not. That might be a problem both in speaking in front of a crowd or in a group discussion.

Talking in a group of friends or talking with relatives is generally not a problem. That makes one thing very clear that as long as I am assured about my relationship with other person(s), evrything is fine. Normally, the presenations of your own work also is not very difficult, possibly because the knowledge and confidence in the topic of the discussion does help in improving the situation. Sometimes people feel more comfortable in personal interviews rather than group discussions. It is a bit strange , but I could not figure out exactly the reason behind it. One possible advantage of personal interview, which comes to my mind ,is the surity that one will have a chance to explain himself properly in an interview which is not guranteed in a group discussion.