Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Employee Too Anxious To Speak at Meetings

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am unable to express my thoughts during meetings due to my anxiety and fear of speaking out of turn to my superiors. Throughout my life I’ve had difficulty properly expressing my thoughts when I speak, whether it be due to nerves or stumbling on my words. What are some ways I can shed this fear and anxiety and be comfortable to speak in meetings? -- Anxious Newbie

DEAR ANXIOUS NEWBIE: Preparation is key. Spend time thinking about and preparing bullet points of what you intend to share with your superiors. Do enough research so that you feel completely comfortable with the content of the conversation. Then map it out so that you are clear about what needs to be shared. Practice so that you can know what it feels like to express yourself with confidence while delivering your message. The more you practice, the easier the situation will become. Your goal is to be able to breathe comfortably and simply talk to anyone, including your boss, with ease because you are prepared with whatever information you need in order to have a successful encounter.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Throughout my childhood, I was always easily distracted, and I suspect I have a mild case of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. I’ve been using ADHD medication that I’ve received from my friends, and it is extremely effective and useful to prevent me from getting distracted. I am not sure if my use of these medications -- such as Dexedrine and Adderall -- is drug abuse, or if it is something I should have been using in the first place.

I am planning on visiting my doctor in the hopes of getting diagnosed properly; however, I’m not sure if I want to tell him about my experience with medication. Taking it drastically improves my ability to get work done and benefits my career prospects as a whole, and I don’t want him to take it away. Do you think I should tell him this? -- Possible Adult ADHD

DEAR POSSIBLE ADULT ADHD: Thank you for sharing this private side of your life. It takes a lot to speak up when the stakes feel high. You may have ADHD, or you may have something else. It is smart for you to get properly diagnosed under a medical doctor’s care. Yes, you should tell your doctor what you have been ingesting, the quantity, dosage, etc. This information is critical to an accurate diagnosis on the doctor’s part.

Talk about yourself, your concerns, your goals, your challenges and your triumphs. Explain how your behavior changes with the use of the medication. Answer your doctor's questions honestly so that you can receive the most accurate diagnosis. Then, listen to whatever the doctor says, and do your best to heed the advice given. Give the medical professional’s diagnosis a chance -- no matter what it is.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)