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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Art of Communication

As part of one of my current courses, "Art of Communication," I was required to give a problem/solution speech. As with many others, I dread public speaking. I signed up for the course, because I liked the opportunity it offered me to marry my (self-purported) strength for writing with my rusty oratory skills. The premise of the first speech was essentially to describe a problem / dilemma and how I resolved it.  I thought I'd share it here. It's not perfect, and I received great feedback on how to make it better, but the below is the unedited version.

Just like most people in this room, I had a time when I needed to make a decision between two opposing options – option 1 that was personally desirable and option 2 that was socially acceptable. This is my story.

I woke up last Monday morning with a dilemma of sorts. So of course like everyone else, I procrastinated. I showered, got dressed, but by the time I opened the door, I had to choose. Option 1 to my left would grant me happiness, but that joy, I knew, would be short-lived at best. And then I thought “what if my friends found out what I did”? As I stood there, debating with myself, I wondered if they would understand. Would they judge me? Would I be strong enough to stand up against their critical stares and disapproval? Or would I be left feeling embarrassed, defeated, and ashamed of my decision? My desire to choose the left option was fierce and burning inside me, but I suppressed it for a moment to consider the alternative on the other side. 

Choosing Option 2 on the other side wasn’t any easier either. I knew it was the “correct” option. In fact, I was sure if I told my friends about it they would have cared less. It was a choice of conformity. A safe choice. A choice no one would question. But it would be a choice that would rob me of the sweet thrill and excitement I was longing for, however momentary it would have been. Instead it would be replaced with generic contentment knowing I did what was expected of me. But would it leave me feeling bitter? Deprived? Resentful? Or perhaps was I simply being too short-sighted?

I started to shiver as I stood there in the cold air. My indecision began to overwhelm me – do I go with option 1- personal happiness; or option 2 – social conformity. I felt powerless as the debate of doubt and hesitation continued unabated in my head. I told myself - don't -- rush. Like a typical HBS consultant, I thought about what 2x2 framework was there to help in my decision making. However, that was another failed attempt to procrastinate as I realized I only had 10 minutes before my first class would begin and that was not enough time to do a 2x2. I needed to decide. I reassured myself that regardless of which option I chose, it was better than the uncertainty that was infectiously invading my every moment. 

As the seconds counted down, I told myself – forget social norms and expectations, so what if I deviate as long as I remain true to myself – that should be all that matters. Finally, I reached my hand into the fridge, past the apple on my right and grabbed the chocolate cake on the left for my breakfast.


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