Write about a challenge you faced and overcame.
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A Toastmasters Worst Nightmare
What do you think a Toastmasters worst nightmare is?
You might believe it’s having nothing to say? I don’t.
Toastmasters do like to talk after all, and they always have something to say. Even if they aren’t the subject matter expert, they still have, and will put forward, their 20 cents worth.
No, Toastmasters love talking and always have something to say.
The problem is getting them to hush up.
You may also think a Toastmasters worst nightmare might be having no one to listen to them? Again, I don’t.
Toastmasters will talk to themselves.
They’ll stand in front of a mirror and watch themselves talk.
They’ll record what they say and play it back – over and over – listening to what they’ve said in the hopes of identifying a better way of saying the same thing.
Therefore, no, a Toastmasters worst nightmare is not having nothing to say and nor is it not having anyone to say it to.
But what about receiving insufficient feedback?
Toastmasters need engagement and audience response, sometimes even audience interaction. They crave it and seek it at every opportunity, but more that that, they thrive on. Feedback is one of the cornerstones of Toastmasters principles. It’s how members receive ‘points for improvement’ – constructive, thoughtful feedback – so they could improve the way they say the same thing next time.
It’s like a drug. They’ll even seek feedback outside of the club meeting environment.
(How else could they improve?)
So imagine if you will, having something to say, having someone to say it to, AND said person’s standard response being monosyllabic?
This was my nightmare, trapped in the passenger seat of our car for almost two years, as Mr Mono-syllable steered said vehicle around Australia.
He was the only person I could receive feedback from, and his standard comments were “Huh! Mmm, Kay, Yep, Nope! Meh!”
If you’re smiling right now, I’m going to assume you’re married or in a long term relationship with someone and therefore you know exactly what I’m talking about.
I’d sit there in the passenger seat, blathering away about our day, the scenery, where next we’d find ourselves lost.
AND I WOULD BE EXPECTING A MEANINGFUL RESPONSE!
I’d asked. “Did you have a nice time today, Darl?”
He’d reply “Yep!”
“Should we go and visit Uluru?”
“Do you want to go out for dinner tonight?”
Let me tell you, that’s no way to identify points for improvement whether or not you’re a member of Toastmasters International.
I got so frustrated one day, with blood boiling, fists clenched, and teeth gritted, I asked:
“Are you even listening to me?”
“Yeah,” he replied. “I know you’re talking. I can see your lips moving in my peripheral vision, but all I hear is wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah.”
“Wah, wah, wah dinner. Wah, wah, wah, Uluru. Wah, wah, wah, beer!”
I swear, it was the most he had said for more than a year, and I hadn’t even mentioned beer.
But while I’m on that topic, the other night, completely out of the blue, I clearly heard him say those three little words I crave so much.
I love you.
And yet . . .
. . . after spending almost two years alone with Mr Mono-syllable, coping with not only his inability to listen, but also his unwillingness to engage in conversation, I’m no longer so naïve that I reacted with a spark of electricity running through me, prickling my skin and making my hair stand up even higher than it usually does.
Nor did I think I was finally receiving some feedback to end my Toastmasters nightmare.
I just looked up from what I was doing and asked, “Is that the beer talking?”.
“No,” he quickly replied (too quickly, I think). “That was me.”
“But I was talking to my beer!”
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