February 28, 2008

How thick is your skin?

Last year I attended a conference where one of the speakers was Arianna Huffington. I posted about her comment that she doesn't believe in developing a thick skin, because a thick skin keeps out the good as well as the bad. Rather, she believes in letting things "in and out quickly" - acknowledging criticism but not dwelling on it.

This is a critical skill for a speaker to have: Can you handle disagreement and criticism?

I'm not asking if you know how to deal with hecklers or troublemakers in the audience. I'm asking if you can emotionally handle conflict so it doesn't eat away at you during and after your presentation.

Most of us want to be liked by others, including and especially our audiences. When audience members disagree or challenge us, some speakers take it personally. Some of us even feel hurt and upset by it.

Logically, we all know that not everyone is always going to agree with our opinions. But sometimes that rationality is overwhelmed by emotion.

You don't need a "thick skin" to be a good speaker. And a "thin skin" is going to lead to emotional turmoil.

How about a "porous skin" like Arianna Huffington talks about - one that lets both the good and bad in and out quickly?

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2 comments. Please add yours! :

Anonymous said...

Interesting thought that thick skin keeps out BOTH good and bad. Hmmm..

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Lisa Braithwaite said...

Yeah, a new way of looking at it, huh?

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