Recently, I revisited an audio book, The Anatomy of Peace, by The Arbinger Institute, well-known for their previous book, Leadership and Self-Deception. The authors maintain that our way of being is even more important than our words and actions. If our heart is “at war,” than we see others as objects, obstacles or vehicles for getting what we want. Saying and doing “the right thing” is hollow and meaningless when our heart is “at war.” When our heart is “at peace,” we see others as unique human beings. We say and do the right thing from a place of sincerity and care.
I couldn’t help but think about how this plays out in presentation and public speaking. When our own heart is not at peace, we treat our listeners as objects, a collection of faces. Then any number of common problems arise.
- The experience becomes all about us, instead of creating an experience for our listeners.
- The presentation becomes all about getting through the content, instead of making sure our listeners understand.
- We become fearful and defensive, instead of being fully engaged and making ourselves fully available.
- We become pushy and competitive, instead of being flexible and cooperative.
I know I’m constantly preaching that cultivating the optimal physical state of being will encourage the optimal vocal, mental and emotional state of being. But—heart at peace—I’m not sure I know how to get there… I’m sure a peaceful physical state will get us moving in the right direction, but will it get right into the center of our being, where it can change how we view our listeners, how we feel about them? I know it’s crucial, but I don’t feel I have the answer to that, yet…