Anyone here have problems articulating their thoughts?

funshine

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:( Sorry, I think this is more of a lounge topic, but I want to get opinions from pre-allo, not lounge people.

I've always had trouble articulating my thoughts--I usually have a pretty clear concept of what I want to say, but the words just...take a long time to come to mind. It's like I suffer a mental block. It's especially bad in class, especially literature classes. Everytime I think of something I really want to say, my heart rate becomes 10 times as fast and I physically feel unable to speak. When I do speak, my mind will draw blanks for the simplest words. Or, I'll lose my train of thought completely. I feel like it's become a big problem in college, and I don't know if it's simply because I wasn't aware of it in high school, or if it's become worse as I've become more nervous. I always think of fear-conditioning :eek: and apply it to my situation.

How am I supposed to overcome this? Whatever part of the brain that integrates my thoughts and verbal function is already fully developed (or mal-formed)...not like there is any plasticity I can work with.

I think that my dad is also pretty bad at expressing himself, so maybe it's genetic :( . still sucks though.

Just wondering if there were any success stories of ppl overcoming an obstacle of this sort. I think I'm OK in regular conversation w/ close friends, but it bothers me that whenever I get the slightest bit nervous, this mental block comes along and makes me sound like an incoherent mess.
 
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funshine

funshine

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Wow. Everyone here is happy w/ their communication skills? lucky you :rolleyes:
 

fever5

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this is a fairly common problem. you definately not alone.

honestly, it just sounds like you are really nervous. learning to relax would solve this.

learning to be relaxed comes with confidence, and experience speaking infront of others.

however, until you gain this experience there are things you can do to decrease the effects of nervousness such as preparing what you will say ahead of time.

If I think I may become nervous to the point of forgetting something, I will either restate/rephrase the question (as in the case of an interview) to imprint it in my mind, or will write 1-2 word pts in the case of a class discussion.

Also, you are not your father. Don't pscyhe yourself out. 99% of your problem is in your head, not in your genes. Good luck!
 

drfunktacular

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practice, practice, practice...

You get the idea.

Honestly, though, if you want to be able to express yourself better, find some friends that are interested in something that you are interested in and start arguing! Not just your usual, "I saw this movie last week" chit chat, but really get into things. Disagree, make your case, attack other peoples' cases.

Another great help is to start reading voraciously. My primary reading material is quasi-scholarly magazines like the new yorker, harper's, the economist and atlantic monthly. Really dig into the longer pieces and take notice of how the author is making his/her case. I can't tell you how many times I have noticed someone else's thoughts that I read in one of those slipping out of my mouth (making me sound extra-smart in the process ;) )
 

samedicine

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I'm fairly certain that you're not alone as regards the issues you mentioned. I have two general things to say in response. Firstly, communication is often associated with confidence. If you have a mastery of a certain field, or are an expert on a certain subject, communicating becomes very natural. I have seen many introverted and clumsy individuals suddenly speak clearly and impressively as soon as a comfortable subject comes up. So, as far as commenting in class is concerned, become a master of the material, and you'll notice your confidence change.

Secondly, you have to discipline yourself to think quickly, but speak slowly. Eloquence is not a matter of grandiose expressions, but simply a matter of clarity. Noone will fault you for taking your time; I suspect the problem arises when you speak too quickly.
 
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funshine

funshine

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drfunktacular said:
practice, practice, practice...

You get the idea.

Honestly, though, if you want to be able to express yourself better, find some friends that are interested in something that you are interested in and start arguing! Not just your usual, "I saw this movie last week" chit chat, but really get into things. Disagree, make your case, attack other peoples' cases.

Another great help is to start reading voraciously. My primary reading material is quasi-scholarly magazines like the new yorker, harper's, the economist and atlantic monthly. Really dig into the longer pieces and take notice of how the author is making his/her case. I can't tell you how many times I have noticed someone else's thoughts that I read in one of those slipping out of my mouth (making me sound extra-smart in the process ;) )
thanks to all fever, drfunk, and sam.
You know, you could be onto something. I'm very indifferent to most things--rarely find anything worth arguing about. As a result, my ability to respond critically to arguments was probably never really developed. In the rare case that I do find something worth arguing about, I quickly feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and confused. ughhhhhhh, wave of self-disgust. Also, I am starting to think this thread is really self-indulgent on my part. Hopefully no one will flame me for this :p
 
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funshine

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samedicine said:
Secondly, you have to discipline yourself to think quickly, but speak slowly. Eloquence is not a matter of grandiose expressions, but simply a matter of clarity. Noone will fault you for taking your time; I suspect the problem arises when you speak too quickly.
HAHAHA. Actually I think I already speak pretty slowly. The connections in my brain must be very rusty, or clogged up.
 

uhpremed

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funshine said:
HAHAHA. Actually I think I already speak pretty slowly. The connections in my brain must be very rusty, or clogged up.
The others had good suggestions & I agree.

This may sound strange to some, but there is no faster way to overcome this than a trial by fire. Take a job or volunteer position somewhere that requires constant communication w/ the public. Sales, museum tour, helpline, infoline, political volunteer, polster, telemarketing, etc. You may hate the first week, but after a short time, you will lose your fear and gain confidence. The best solution is certainly a situation where you can speak about something you believe in, or are knowledgeable in, that will add to confidence. Only you know where that may be. It really can't be working for a friend or just chatting w/co-workers. Ideally, you would have some performance goal - fear of failure helps.
 

GuyLaroche

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I have gotten quite good at writing and articulating myself because I have learned to take the most offensive, harshest stance on any issue. To do this, and to do it well, you have to be able to clearly state your unpopular arguments and possibly even win people over. Even you don't win people over, your voice will be found interesting and people will tune in even if they absolutely loathe you. Witness Ann Coulter. It's a brilliant way to learn to give a tone and an edge to your voice.

In my interviews, I have taken very unpopular opinions on several topics and I have gotten the interviewer interested, intrigued and perhaps even impressed by my ballsiness. It didn't just happen over night. With every issue, I think what do I really think. It is very easy to articulate what you really think. It is far more difficult to argue from an entirely opposite point of view from what you really think. By always arguing to the right of my true opinions, I learn how to better present those true opinions. It's like weight-lifting. You don't lift light weights that you can manage very easily to build muscle. Instead, you challenge yourself.

This was my approach to my personal statement, which was sharp and almost harsh in tone. This was also my approach to SDN till I was banned (but that's one for the history books). In fact, I just left a website on which I was spewing nothing but concentrated vitreol. It was awesome. Luckily, on that website, the mods are not as present and aware as those on SDN are (a la EVO, for whom I have nothing but love). Anyhow, in summary, by always being the opposer, I have learned to express myself. That I am not very popular is a small price to pay. Again, witness Ms. Coulter.
 

Haybrant

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GuyLaroche said:
I have gotten quite good at writing and articulating myself because I have learned to take the most offensive, harshest stance on any issue. To do this, and to do it well, you have to be able to clearly state your unpopular arguments and possibly even win people over. Even you don't win people over, your voice will be found interesting and people will tune in even if they absolutely loathe you. Witness Ann Coulter. It's a brilliant way to learn to give a tone and an edge to your voice.

In my interviews, I have taken very unpopular opinions on several topics and I have gotten the interviewer interested, intrigued and perhaps even impressed by my ballsiness. It didn't just happen over night. With every issue, I think what do I really think. It is very easy to articulate what you really think. It is far more difficult to argue from an entirely opposite point of view from what you really think. By always arguing to the right of my true opinions, I learn how to better present those true opinions. It's like weight-lifting. You don't lift light weights that you can manage very easily to build muscle. Instead, you challenge yourself.

This was my approach to my personal statement, which was sharp and almost harsh in tone. This was also my approach to SDN till I was banned (but that's one for the history books). In fact, I just left a website on which I was spewing nothing but concentrated vitreol. It was awesome. Luckily, on that website, the mods are not as present and aware as those on SDN are (a la EVO, for whom I have nothing but love). Anyhow, in summary, by always being the opposer, I have learned to express myself. That I am not very popular is a small price to pay. Again, witness Ms. Coulter.

your patients will just love you! joking, but seriously, how bout some examples huh
 

GuyLaroche

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Haybrant said:
your patients will just love you! joking, but seriously, how bout some examples huh
Well, I argue against universal healthcare routinely in all my interviews (even though this is the idealistic, premed stance). I do this on grounds that universal healthcare would stifle the growth of technological advancements and research. I argue against being totally patient-oriented and argue for more research-based medicine. I take a very hard stance on all ethical questions asked, ignoring any potential middle ground that may arise. I present a world of the pitchest black and the snowiest white. Typically, in my interviews, a gentle debate always arises. I feed off the interviewer, and I take an opposing view but ever so gently. There is a tipping point, of course. I typically always confess at the end of the interview that I took those positions to create a debate to which there is usually some laughter. This is not always the case. There was the one uncomfortable exchange at Cornell. I don't expect to get in, of course.

My essay just sounded bitchy, but bitchy with a cause.
 

flash

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4 am and buzzing on more than a few beers, forgive me

Listen to me. The FEAR of being speechless is what is debilitating (sp?) you. I agree - put yourself in as many situations as possible that require you to be on the spot. Realize and internalize that it is 100% mental, and resolve to kill that fear. Push through it, there is nothing real on the other side. Easier said than done, but trust me.

Trust in trust, have faith in faith. The universe will provide everthing you need. Keep things in perspective.

Drunk, going to bed, but I think I make sense.
 

nina512

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OP,

For the past 2 years, I felt that my communications skills (in the professional setting) have declined. This is coming from someone who loved public speaking and theatre. However, as I've gotten older, I think my confidence has waned and that's when my communication problems arose.

Like you, I have the thoughts, but tended to bumble around when I got nervous. For me, I got through lab presentations, etc, by practicing what I wanted to say in front of a mirror and remembering key transition words. Eventually, the nervousness subsided after a while and I didn't have to practice anymore.

As for interviews, I honestly bombed my first interview because I was nervous and I didn't practice as much. For my next interview, I practiced what I wanted to say and how. It's not so much as reciting a canned answer, but knowing yourself and articulating that clearly.

I still get a little nervous when put on the spot, but I've found that the more confident I am, the less nervous I become. It's mostly mental.

Don't worry, you arent' the only one with these feelings!