You don’t talk much do you? Why are you not talking? You’re very quiet. I’ve heard every variation of theses over the years. Every time I heard something like this, it made me want to disappear. What was I supposed to say to that? The more I heard it the less I wanted to talk.
As an introvert, I always had trouble with word retrieval. Sometimes I would just forget words or had a hard time expressing my thoughts. Theses situations would be really frustrating and made me less inclined to talk. I used to over-thinking every little thing that I wanted to say.
Introverts are more likely to reach for information in long-term memory than working memory. Retrieval from long-term memory usually takes more time and requires an association to find what we’re looking for. There is some speculation that because introverts are deep thinkers, reaching into the depths of long-term memory makes sense — searching for information stored in the recesses of our minds.
Start small. First, attend social situations that don’t require much effort from you.
Events such as a comedy show, book reading, or concert are ideal. Once you’re comfortable being in a crowded environment, engage in more intimate occasions that will require your direct input. Focus on baby steps as you learn to feel comfortable in social situations. If it’s been a while since you’ve interacted with more than two people at once, it may feel overwhelming to go to a party where there will be many guests.
Seek opportunities. If your social interactions are few and far between, you limit your chances of success in these situations. Instead of avoiding social situations, start by seeking small, less intimidating opportunities to practice social interaction.
Be yourself. Remember that people generally want to get to know the real you. Most people you meet will be just as nervous as you are. Make others feel at ease by being yourself and asking questions about the other person. As they open up to you and the conversation gets rolling, you’ll feel more and more comfortable.
Remember that people are less concerned about your flaws than you are. Social situations can be overwhelming when you try really hard to be perfect. Sometimes you’ll make mistakes. Even embarrassing mistakes can cause you and those around you to feel at ease if you learn to laugh at yourself. And, most people will understand if you make a mistake. They’re just as intimidated.
Focus on others. If you feel uncomfortable approaching a stranger, that’s okay. Many people feel shy about this. If someone makes conversation with you, focus the conversation on him or her. Ask questions about their life, and keep them talking until you find common ground.
Practice. Practice often. When you’re home alone, stand in front of the mirror and pretend that you’re engaging in small talk at a cocktail party. Do this frequently, and you’ll find that conversation comes much more easily. Recite phrases before you say them to a new acquaintance. This will ease your nerves. You’re already used to saying the words, so they’ll roll off of your tongue effortlessly.
Keep going. Anxiety occurs because some part of your brain is trying to stop you from taking action. It has learned that it can control you by making you feel miserable. You can minimize the anxiety you feel by plowing ahead. Your brain will learn that making you feel anxious doesn’t work.
Reward yourself. After dealing successfully with a challenging situation, celebrate. This will help teach your brain that these stressful situations have a positive outcome. Buy yourself something small or do something enjoyable. Anything that puts you in a good mood is a good choice.
For spontaneous discussions that require a response at work, you might say:
● “Let me think about that and get back to you.”
● “I can’t remember off the top of my head. I can email you with that info later.”
● “Hmmm, I would need to think about that.”
● “For some reason, I’m drawing a blank. Let me get back to you.”
● “I’m not sure. I’ll need to check on that.”
It’s normal to experience social anxiety from time to time, especially if you’re at an event where you only know a few people. But you have the power to overcome this.
You deserve to discover your inner confidence and experience life to its fullest potential.
If you would like more information to thrive as an introvert. Check out my Introvert Survival Guide.