For those with social anxiety, speaking to other people can be a daunting task. The fear of becoming anxious, feeling the need to escape before you have the chance to engage in conversation fully or feeling embarrassed can often lead people to avoid social interaction altogether. However, there are ways you can work on your social skills and become more comfortable being around other people, even if this type of situation usually leaves you feeling anxious or embarrassed. Here are some steps that might help ease some of your anxiety and make it easier for you to interact with others.
1. Practice interacting with others.
The first step is also one of the hardest, as it requires getting out of your comfort zone and talking to others when you have the opportunity. This can be very awkward, and socially anxious people are often not used to this type of situation. So while you may feel a bit uncomfortable the first few times, see it as a learning experience, and it will get easier with time.
2) Practice new behaviors.
Try out new behaviors that you know may make you anxious or simply try avoiding some of your old negative habits, like avoiding eye contact or smiling too much. While these may have been useful when you were younger, they no longer serve any purpose, so learn to eliminate them from your behavior as much as possible.
3) Do not try to impress others.
Focus on being yourself, and do not place that much importance on impressing others. Instead, focus on the conversation and do not try to impress them by discussing your wealth or something else that you might see as an accomplishment. You should instead see this as a time to connect with others and speak of things that interest you to try to get them interested in what you have to say.
4) Practice saying hello.
Another good way to start is simply saying hello when entering a room or as you pass other people in a hallway. While this may seem very simple, practicing this and ensuring you are not over the top when doing so is essential. Even if people do not respond or say hello back to you, do not take it personally, as they may simply be in their world.
While this sounds kind of silly and almost like a cliché thing to do, it can positively affect your life. When you smile at others, they notice your positive attitude and generally try to interact positively with you. This can help build your confidence and ease some anxious feelings that usually arise when interacting with others.
6) Learn to open up.
A big part of interacting with others is about yourself and sharing information about who you are. You may need to practice this at first as it can be very awkward. However, once you have done this a few times, it will get easier, and you will be able to develop the confidence to share your ideas on a given subject. When you are not just telling other people what they want to hear but instead telling them what you think, they will typically find this a refreshing change from the everyday conversations they usually have and enjoy hearing what you say.
7) Ask questions.
When interacting with others, asking questions and waiting for a response before going into a conversation about yourself is essential. This will show that you are interested in the other person and their thoughts on the subject. You can ask questions related to the current conversation to avoid the awkward silence that typically comes from talking about yourself without input from others first.
8) Do not look down.
Try your best not to look down at the floor when talking to someone else. If this is something that you habitually do when speaking with someone else, try making eye contact with them instead, so they know that you are interested in conversing with them. This will allow you to feel more comfortable speaking with others and avoid embarrassment if you notice yourself looking down occasionally.
9) Practice in front of a mirror.
You will likely feel like you have a tough time when starting to interact with others, but seeing yourself speak and look at people can help ease some of your anxiety. In addition, seeing your confidence reflected in the mirror will help build it and allow you to see that there is no reason to feel anxious when speaking with others.
10) Be yourself.
Remember that being yourself is something that people like. People want a genuine connection and can see through any type of act or scheme you may be trying to perpetrate on them. So instead of pretending to be someone else, just be yourself and do not try too hard to impress others with stories about your life or a phony persona.
Social anxiety can be a challenging ailment to cope with. However, it is something that everyone could face at some point in life whether they realize it or not. The good news is that there are steps you can take to treat this condition and make interacting with others a bit easier. Just remember that the more you practice these techniques, the more you will get used to them and lose any of your anxiety over social situations.
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