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Having friends makes us happier and healthier—in fact, being socially connected is key to our mental and emotional health. Yet many of us are shy and socially introverted. We feel awkward around unfamiliar people, unsure of what to say, or worried about what others might think of us. This can cause us to avoid social situations, cut ourselves off from others, and gradually become isolated and lonely. But loneliness is nothing to feel ashamed about. In such cases, there are lots of steps you can take to meet new people and turn acquaintances into friends.
The truth is that none of us are born with social skills. No matter how nervous you feel in the company of others, you can learn to silence self-critical thoughts, boost your self-esteem, and become more confident in your interactions with others. When it comes to shyness and social awkwardness, the things we tell ourselves make a huge difference. Here are some common thinking patterns that can undermine your confidence and fuel social insecurity:.
But the truth is never quite so black-and-white.
Most people are caught up in their own lives and concerns. Many other people feel just as awkward and nervous as you do. Some people are better at hiding it than others, but there are many introverted people out there struggling with the same self-doubts as you are. The next person you speak to is just as likely to be worried about what you think of them!
People are much more tolerant than you think. In your mind, the very idea of doing or saying something embarrassing in public is horrifying. Everyone has done it at some point so most will just ignore it and move on.
But that still leaves the way you feel about yourself. In fact, our imperfections and quirks can be endearing. Even our weaknesses can bring us closer to others. They may even like you better for it!
So give yourself a break when you mess up. If you find self-compassion difficult, try to look at your own mistakes as you would those of a friend. What would you tell your friend? Now follow your own advice. Improving social skills requires practice. That said, you can start small. Take baby steps towards being more confident and social, then build on those successes. When it comes to the things that really scare us, you want to face your fears in a gradual way, starting with situations that are slightly stressful and building up to more anxiety-provoking scenarios.
Think of it as a stepladder, with each rung a little more stressful than the last. If talking to new people at parties makes you extremely anxious, for example, here is a stepladder you could use:. Some people seem to instinctively know how to start a conversation with anyone, in any place.
Remark on the surroundings or occasion. Have you tried the chicken? Ask an open-ended question, one that requires more than just a yes or no answer. Use a compliment. Note anything you have in common and ask a follow up question. Keep the conversation going with small talk. Stick to light subjects like the weather, surroundings, and anything you have in common such as school, movies, or sports teams. Listen effectively. Listening is not the same as waiting for your turn to talk. Nod occasionally, smile at the person, and make sure your posture is open and inviting.
In fact, introverts can be just as social as extroverts. What this means is that even socially confident introverts will feel tired after a lot of socializing.
You just need to understand your limits and plan accordingly. After a fun Saturday out with friends, for example, you may need to spend Sunday alone to rest and recharge. Take mini-breaks. Even 10 or 15 minutes here and there can make a big difference. Talk to your family and friends about your alone-time needs.
Be up front about the fact that socializing drains you. Good friends will be sympathetic and willing to accommodate your needs. As you put yourself out there socially, there will be times when you feel judged or rejected. Not everyone you approach will be receptive to starting a conversation, let alone becoming friends.
Just like dating, meeting new people inevitably comes with some element of rejection. The following tips will help you have an easier time with social setbacks:. Try not to take things too personally. The other person may be having a bad day, be distracted by other problems, or just not be in a talkative mood. Always remember that rejection has just as much to do with the other person as it does with you.
Keep things in perspective. Learn from the experience and try again. The very shyest people do, and so will you.
Improving Your Social Skills — Self-help articles on how to get past shyness and social awkwardness. Social Anxiety — Self-help resources. Centre for Clinical Interventions. Nerd Fitness. Show Off Your Social Self — Tips for managing shyness and challenging negative views that get in the way of social success.
Do you frequently avoid social situations? Do other people seem to have a lot more fun than you do in social situations? Is it hard for you to approach people or in conversations? Focus externally, not internally. Laugh at yourself. If you do something embarrassing, use humor to put things in perspective.
Laugh, learn, and move on. It can be something as small as a compliment or smile. Get more help.
Nerd Fitness Show Off Your Social Self — Tips for managing shyness and challenging negative views that get in the way of social success. Print PDF.Lonely lookin for fun
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