A little background, I had online interaction a lot and never made real-life friends as I was shy and didn't know how to interact and how to start a conversation. Even now.

If I am about to make a person understand who does't want to listen to me or tries to resist what I want to say or if I have to make a call/move, I can hear my heart pounding in my ears. Having said that, I am in my early 30's and It has been there since forever. How can I control myself so I can better control my speech and not get fired up because I cannot speak if my heart is pounding too hard. Even while someone jokes with me about "you will make the announcement", my heart is pounding too loud and my hands become shaky.

My Question is How Can I control my emotions while speaking public/someone arguing with me?

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    I'm not sure what your asking exactly. Do you have trouble having conversations in general due to anxiety/shyness? Or are you having trouble in discussion when you disagree with someone? Is it a broad problem or specific situations?
    – Iarwain
    Oct 3, 2017 at 14:58
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    This seems more like a personal question than an interpersonal question, to be honest.
    – Mithical
    Oct 3, 2017 at 18:18
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    "If I am about to make a person understand who does't want to listen to me" You can't make a person understand, you can only help them to understand. If they don't want to listen, very often no argument is going to convince them. Oct 3, 2017 at 20:59
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    Just a personal experience here: please make sure you are healthy and not suffering from high blood pressure, which can cause similar symptoms.
    – Jasmine
    Oct 3, 2017 at 23:06
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    @ Arwen Undómiel: Not sure why this is on hold. Staying calm when one's nature wants to explode is definetely a skill one can learn; even so far that the mind no longer wants to explode. Just ask anyone who is into Zen or Psychology, e.g.. It's even interpersonal. So, given skill + interpersonality = interpersonal skill. No?
    – phresnel
    Oct 4, 2017 at 13:52

7 Answers 7


Note: This is from personal experience from the last 15 years and especially in the argument having context.

I used to be really fired up in these talks. Shaking hands, pounding heart, etc. This sucked because I had the feeling my side of the conversation was totally irrelevant because I looked like a shaking pigeon. And it could only escalate after that.

But I don't remember having the problems in the latest years.

These are some tips I kept repeating myself:

  • Keep asking yourself: why am I having this argument/discussion? I stopped having arguments just for the sake of arguing. If a discussion does not have a clear goal in mind to focus on, move on.

  • It's OK being wrong! This is for the other but also for yourself. Being wrong doesn't make you a bad person.

  • Notice when an argument is being derailed. Set up boundaries where your debate is being hold in. Anything beyond that don't let it escalate or get yourself gas-lighted.

  • Don't take arguments personally. And when it becomes personal, their point becomes moot and the arguments should not hold any weight anymore.

  • Don't focus too much on yourself (hard one). This makes you more anxious and nervous. What helped for me is breathe and smile and try to focus on the subject of the matter not the persons discussing.


Also the heart pounding, sweating and shaking is just simple adrenaline. Taking a good deep breath and flexing every muscle you can feel for about 3 seconds is an excellent way to remove the jitters. That's why sometimes during presentations people squeeze on stuff (pennies, little ball, the mic). And keep breathing, long exhales..

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    "I had the feeling my side of the conversation was totally irrelevant because I looked like a shaking pigeon." - This is a great point. Not being you, I would definitely disregard your opinion if you were totally overwhelmed with anger on any given topic. Staying calm has the dual benefit of making people respect your opinion more in the first place. Oct 3, 2017 at 20:11
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    "Also the heart pounding, sweating and shaking is just simple adrenaline." - "Just" ... well, I am not a phsychatrist or medical doctor but such strong symptoms could as well mean it's more than "shyness" involved here. Maybe it's a decent anxiety disorder. People with a broken leg see a doctor, OP should see a professional, too. And if it's only to tell him his reactions are in "normal" boundaries.
    – Fildor
    Oct 4, 2017 at 8:26
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    I didn't mean to be dismissive, while it is adrenaline, and a legit physical trick to cope with it. Of course I recommend possible professional help if it's an anxiety disorder or something else. Then again I wouldn't label it a condition right away too.
    – Timmetje
    Oct 4, 2017 at 8:56
  • I didn't mean to label it a condition. I totally have not enough information about the OP to make such a statement. I just thought "It could be" and maybe he should have that checked - while it could also turn out to be "just" adrenaline. Like ... if I see a new spot on my skin, I'll go see the skin-doctor - knowing it could be just a new freckle but "just in case". Does it make sense?
    – Fildor
    Oct 4, 2017 at 9:22

I hesitated writing an answer because you might not be able to do this without professional help.

If you aren't familiar with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, it's worth finding out about it.

From what you write, it sounds like you have a fear of public speaking in addition to social anxiety (?). CBT might be able to help you by gradually exposing you to the feared stimulus by a process called systematic desensitization.

I used to have similar symptoms in school when I was asked to recite poems for school events in front of the whole school but as I grew up the symptoms weren't as severe. I've had to avoid doing things that elevated my anxiety in the past. Avoidance is a short-term solution in that it helps prevent or alleviate the symptoms you are describing. However, it's a shame not to be able to enjoy having friends, and engaging in conversations with them because of it.

Some things you could try in the meantime (related to public speaking), while learning more about CBT:

  • Gather family, you could gradually increase the number of family members, and give some kind of speech or read them something every once in a while. Of course this means that your parents, siblings or family know about your problem and want to help. Ask for their help. Or if you have a couple of close friends, ask them to help you the same way.
  • Take a public speaking class at your local college. (I did and despite resenting it in the beginning, it did help me a lot).
  • Take an acting class.
  • Don't forget to breathe! Just take a few deep breaths when you feel you might be getting anxious about speaking in public or arguing with someone.

Just some thoughts here ...

Really, I think you're asking two questions. The first is about overcoming anxiety over public speaking, to which the answer is, was, and always shall be Toastmasters, Toastmasters, Toastmasters! Which is another way of saying practice in a friendly environment.

The second question is how to deal with disagreement without getting emotional. A few things I can offer which have worked for me...

  • Anticpate disagreements -- in the general sense. Know that any time you present an idea there will be pushback. So don't be surprised. It could be that your idea/proposal has flaws; it could be you didn't explain it fully or well enough; it could be that people fear change. But there will be pushback, don't be taken aback.

  • Anticipate disagreements -- in the specific sense. Before you present, take the devil's advocate view and look at where you think people will object, and be prepared to discuss why these objections can be mitigated.

  • Understand the disagreements -- make sure you understand exactly what your "disagreer" is saying. I've asked people "Okay, explain to me in small, akaioi-sized words" before. ;D If it's a disagreement you have prepared for, all the better. If it's something you don't have an answer for yet, say so and move on.

  • Embrace the disagreements -- to my mind, pushback against my ideas is there to make them stronger. By which I mean my friends/colleagues/whoever will poke holes in my ideas so that I can fix them and remove or at least mitigate the reason for objection. I want this kind of feedback, so that I can end up with a better plan overall. Remind yourself, "same team here!"

  • When I say emotional, I mean the heartbeat goes to the roof and heart-starting shaking.
    – localhost
    Oct 3, 2017 at 15:52
  • @Nofel yep, that's where practice helps. I don't know if there is a Toastmasters club in your community, but if there is not, any practice helps get you used to it. Practice giving presos to close colleagues, friends, family, anyone who will listen. ;D Every time you do it it gets easier.
    – akaioi
    Oct 3, 2017 at 16:43

It is indeed possible to tackle both (public speech & arguing) at the same time.

It WILL take courage though, and a lot of it too. If it takes it WILL be fun and will get you there.

There are people that argue as a sport. They are organised in debating societies and they both practice on the home grounds and go out in public and compete.

Competitions are both small/local as well as national and beyond. Any university city may (should!) have one or more (compete!) societies. Most consist of friendly competitors with a focus on having fun and also entertainment and exercising your mind.

So, if you find yourself intrigued, seek out a neighbourhood debating club and check out if the format fits you. If it does, you'll have a platform to break through your barriers in a safe environment, and you can practice your lost/afterwards won/entirely virtual/fearfully anticipated arguments, turn them backwards, inside out, go down against a champion knowing your real life adversary is not one tenth the calibre, see that same champion make fillet of another compatriot in good spirit with everyone listening in the sidelines cheering them on to greater heights,.... and only then armed to the teeth GO for it in your own life. Getting good advice on which fights to pick and which to avoid at the same time. And with a solid analysis of your previous attempts and adversaries as a bonus to make it all even better.

Debaters are strong communicative and the debating process can be done on any level. A (wildly inappropriately levelled) link for a bit of background: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Universities_Debating_Championship


This is what I think...

1) everyone will have an opinion whether that agrees with you or not - it's one of those things

2) there will be people who will agree with you to varying degree while there will be others who won't agree with you to a varying degree... for whatever reason.

3) I find usually people want to be heard than to hear others.

4) You can't really force people to accept your point of view

my opinion?

1) live and let live and don't stress too much

2) keep looking for like-minded people like yourself

3) try to see the other person's point of view

4) yup, the world can seem rather lonely when few seem to agree with us


I'm going for a different angle here:

Don't think about the anxiety.

Now, of course I know it isn't that easy, but I was a lot like you, and just like you I didn't really like the results. About 75% of your anxiety is because you focus in it, fear for fear. Fear for fear is bad, because quite often, it's not that bad after all.

I got over this by shifting my focus:

  • After the fact, self reflect, focus on what you did right. Only then focus on something you think should improve and try to objectively access how to improve this next time
  • The next time, recall it. Don't worry about what went wrong, focus on what when right, and you new technique. After that, loop back to point 1. This is a forced process in the beginning, it'll get more automatic as you go.

  • When you start worrying, distract yourself. This will take practice, but don't mess yourself up. Find a thought/thoughts which distract, or play simple games on your phone.

I sometimes didn't do things because I worried it might go bad. But, fear for fear isn't an option anymore. Worrying about it also isn't. So I forced myself to check why I didn't want to do something, and if it was because of anxiety, I made myself do it (if it was the first one of the day).

It will take practice and some time. This is not a 2 day solution, this is a onging process.

After a while, you will have broken the habbit if overthinking it too much. You'll start noticing what went right, which with a little luck will create a positive feedback loop.

After a while longer, you do this a lot more automatic and you'll suddenly notice that everything is going pretty acceptable.

Good luck


Online interactions are different to real life. In a tech forum many answers to questions are binary, right or wrong, 'black or white'. And that can be quite comforting to some people. But that isn't always the case in regular human interactions, and even when you are discussing a situation that IS, not everybody has the same thought process. In your question you talk about trying to "make a person understand", and it sounds like you are unsuccessfully trying to port your experience answering questions online to real-life.

The very fact you are here, trying to figure out why you react this way, shows that you do care what other people think of you and even perhaps how they feel. So I don't think the fact you want people to just accept what you say first time, every time, means you are arrogant.

You need first to analyse your feelings. Perhaps you feel that if you have gone to great lengths to learn something, someone not accepting what you tell them first time is challenging your own thought process? Or perhaps you see it as an insult to your intelligence? Or maybe the challenge is taking away the comfort you find in being right about something? Whatever it is, it isn't worth getting angry about.

Remember also that everybody has a different thought process, and while you can sometimes tell somebody a straight answer to a question (eg 'it's 42') other times you have to lead them down their own thought process, so they can understand how and why that is the answer, so they can have the same confidence in it that you do, and perhaps even gain some of that comfort that you may get from knowing that you're right.

Try to see imparting information to somebody as a worthwhile challenge rather than a chore. Rather than give a quick answer, try replying to complex questions politely with questions of your own that start them on the thought path. If they really want/need to know, they will get that you are teaching/training them and respond favourably. If they don't like your new Yoda-like way of answering questions, they'll give up and start asking someone else, so it is win-win.

When you DO have to give a direct answer to something, you can always say something like "in my experience..." which gives them the option of listening to you, or not. And if the situation does still arise where someone is just not accepting what you say - remember that there is only one person you can successfully control, and that is yourself. You are not responsible if somebody gets something wrong because they didn't listen to you!

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