When I speak about control in my communication workshops, I talk about controlling things that are actually WITHIN your control. That sounds like a no-brainer, but I always need to stress this point. Why? Because too often we waste precious time and emotional energy worrying about things we have no control over.

Here’s a simple list of what is within your control when it comes to communication and what’s not: 

Within your control:

  • Your response (to other people, situations and circumstance). You have a choice about how you react.
  • Your emotions.
  • Your communication.
  • Your body language.
  • Your mood.
  • The energy you bring to communication.
  • Your preparation ahead of initiating communication.
  • Your commitment to and practice of skills to improve your communication.

Outside your control:

  • How other people respond to you and your communication.
  • What other people think of you.
  • What other people say or do.
  • Many of the things that happen to you in life (situations and circumstance).
  • Other people’s emotions.
  • The meaning people give to what you say.
  • What people hear.

You can’t control a lot of what happens in your life, you can only control your response to it. For example: You can’t control your company deciding to shut down and make everyone redundant. What you can control is how you react and what you do in the aftermath.

You can’t control other people; you can only control you. You can’t control how people respond to your communication. No matter how fair and reasonable you are, someone may get offended by what you say or react poorly. You can’t control them, you can only control how you deliver the message. You can be considerate and calm, but they might still yell and scream. If they do, that’s about them, not you. Your aim is to communicate in the best way possible and then let the chips fall where they may.

You can’t please everyone all the time. To the people pleasers reading this post, know this: You will fail. There’s nothing surer. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but you can’t please all people, all of the time. You’ll only tie yourself in knots trying.

You also can’t control what other people think of you. No matter how nice you are, some people won’t like you. It’s just a reality of life and something and the sooner you learn to accept it, the sooner you’ll succeed. Some people may not like you because you’re “too nice” and that’s suspicious. We’re all attracted to different personalities and not everyone will be your friend. That’s ok.

When I deliver my workshops, I’m conscious of the fact I have no control of what attendees think of it. They may all hate it and if they do, that’s something I have to live with and learn from. But I can’t change their minds. I can’t convince them it was good if they don’t believe that. I can’t chase after them saying, “but what about that bit when I said something funny!” That would just be weird. And stupid. I can’t control their response. What I can control is me.

I can control how I prepare for my workshops. I can control the content I create and the preparation I do in advance. I can control the energy I bring on the day, the way I present, and how I communicate my message – both through my words and my body language. I can control the time I go to bed the night before. That’s pretty much it. I have to let go of the outcome. Instead, I control my controllables – that is, I control ME. After that, I channel Elsa in Frozen and let the rest go.

Leah Mether teaches people how to have difficult conversations and step up for success with the development of ‘soft skills’ (which are actually really hard). To find out more about Leah’s upcoming public workshops or to learn about the training Leah can offer your workplace, visit www.methmac.com.au.