Believe it or not, social anxiety is something almost everyone experiences at least once or twice in their life. Whether you get slightly nervous or have extreme panic attacks, there are multiple things you can do to become more comfortable around people and your environment. Social anxiety begins in childhood, and most experience it when they are nervous about speaking to authority or large groups of people.
However, social anxiety can become a serious problem to the extreme that many people refrain from any kind of social contact with others. If any of this applies to you, always remember that the world is not to be feared, but to be explored. Help is always provided when you seek it. Here are seven great tips for how to not be socially awkward in your personal and work life, so that living around people is comfortable and easy.
Seven Tips for A Better Social Life
TIP #1: Joining a Program
If being socially awkward really concerns you and you desire being able to seek comfort in others, joining a program that pushes you to be social is a good way to go. Like counseling, some programs allow you to perfect the things you feel awkward or uncertain about, like learning how to be social, or how not to be socially awkward. For example, if you are in high school, becoming a part of a campus club would be a great idea. It puts you in a situation where you learn to speak your mind with others who share similar beliefs. Joining clubs or joining programs, from counseling to leisure activities, can be the first start to introducing you to person-to-person interaction. It can easily rid of your struggle with learning how to improve your social skills, simply because it pushes you to familiarize yourself with speaking to others. That way, you can learn to relax rather than clamping up when in a social situation.
TIP #2: Talking to Others
The next step is talking to other people with whom you aren’t so familiar. If you know what situations lead you to anxiety or social awkwardness, it’s easy to find means to overcome this problem. For example, “many people have social anxiety the first few times they have to do something such as speaking in front of a group, meeting with a new boss, going to a job interview, going to a new class or job where they do not know anyone, or getting to know someone they might like to date”. If any of these apply to you, you have already made the first step towards improvement: recognizing the problem. Now, all you have to do is to begin speaking with those people who make you feel awkward in order to try and feel more comfortable around them. If that is too much, talk to others who are like them in order to get used to talking to other people in general. If you get really nervous talking to someone you like, practice speaking to a friend as if they were that person. That might help make the situation more comfortable the next time it happens.
TIP #3: Familiarize Yourself with Your Environment
Familiarizing yourself with your environment is fairly similar to talking to others, but in regards to your surroundings. Oftentimes the new and unfamiliar scares people and forces them to close up psychologically. Examples of this include when you get a new job, eat at new restaurants, or are in a foreign country. This is completely natural as being somewhere new forces our bodies to be in protection mode. We are more cautious of things than we would normally be because we are unsure of safety. Thus, it’s purely science. But you might realize that there are people out there who are completely comfortable with the new and unfamiliar and have no trouble being themselves around anyone. To learn how to socialize, familiarize yourself with your environment. Practice putting yourself in new situations so that you aren’t so afraid when put in that position. When you make the unfamiliar familiar, you become comfortable, more relaxed and more likely to be yourself – no matter who you are talking to.
TIP #4: Be Less Critical
Sometimes, the problem isn’t that you are afraid to talk to others or that you feel socially awkward, but that you are unable to connect to people because of your beliefs about them. You can start with not being as critical of everyone as you currently are. Those who are critical of others typically label themselves as “antisocial”, or those who dislike the company of others. When you are constantly dissecting other people or placing labels, you automatically shut down half the people around you, when they really probably are good people. A part of being antisocial, or simply being human, is that you don’t want to be judged. So why be so judgmental of other people if you wouldn’t want the same in return? Being more acceptable of other people can open so many windows for you, making you a more sociable and happy person. All it takes is a slight change of how you see those around you. Being more considerate will teach you to become more social.
TIP #5: Don’t Over-Analyze
Have you ever spoken to someone and thought it was a completely normal conversation until five minutes after it ends, when you start dissecting everything that went on? Then you start to notice that maybe you misinterpreted what was said, or that you should have been clearer, or that you said the wrong thing. It turns what was a simple conversation into a chaotic catastrophe. If you do this repeatedly, you may notice yourself being really nervous around others because you are constantly afraid of saying the wrong thing or giving the wrong impression. If so, no problem! The first step is recognizing the problem, and trying to learn how to deal with social anxiety. The second is learning how to turn it around. The next time you talk to someone, try to be as relaxed as possible and don’t think about everything he or she said. It’s difficult, no doubt, but by letting things be what they are, you will realize how much easier it is to talk to others.
TIP #6: Push Yourself and Initiate
At school, there is always that person who is just so good at getting to know other people. They just walk up to other people, sit down, and start talking. And all the while you are sitting there wishing desperately that you can be like them – that if you could just push yourself out there, your life would be different. Well, it can be. Simply do what the other person did: push yourself and get out there. Granted, this can be extremely difficult as you don’t always know who other people are and you might be afraid of rejection. But what’s the worst that can happen, them saying no? Most of the time, even if someone dislikes you, they won’t have the nerve to outright say “leave me alone”. And if they are, they wouldn’t be someone you would want in your life anyway. The best thing to remember when putting yourself out there and learning how to be more social is the fact that even if you fail, no one will remember. If you go to a party wearing something strange, sure some people might talk about you – but they aren’t going to remember what you wore for more than a few minutes. For the rest of your life you won’t be remembered as that girl who wore something weird at a party. Putting yourself out there can be the best thing to do.
Typically, you don’t find people saying, “I really regret putting myself out there. It got me nowhere”. No, you usually hear, “if I hadn’t pushed myself into doing this, I would never be where I am today”. It is difficult, but if you just give yourself a little nudge, you would be surprised at what great things can happen by simply putting yourself out there. And the best part is that no one will notice how hard it was for you. They will just know that someone came to talk to them and they were impressed with how personable you were. Hey, you might have even made someone else’s day by putting yourself out there.
TIP #7: Always Stay Positive
In situations like these where you are going out of your comfort zone to try and break that socially awkward barrier, it is easy to get down on yourself. Many times you will consider giving up because nothing is working and shrinking back into your hole is easier. But remember to stay positive. Self-confidence is sexy. If you are confident about what you are doing, then the opinions of other people don’t matter. You are so focused on being who you are that nothing can stop you. You are happy because you produce your own happiness; you don’t need other people’s approval to feel self-love. Thus, one of the great ways of learning how to get rid of social anxiety is to build some confidence and stay positive. While stepping out of your comfort zone may be frightening, it is nothing short of possible.
Try and keep a positive mind by being less critical of others and judging your own self. Oftentimes the problem is that you may feel uncomfortable in your own skin. By focusing on the parts about you that are beautiful, you can really change the way you interact with others and learn how to get over social anxiety. With a little self-confidence, you may not be so afraid to talk to others and you may not fear the new or unfamiliar.
There are so many things you can do to learn how to be more social, both in your personal and professional life. If you are a parent or teacher who is trying to teach your children how to be more social, use some of these skills to guide them. Teach self-confidence, acceptance of others and initiation at an early age so that being shy or socially awkward is not a problem in the future.
One of the best things you can do to become more comfortable with yourself and others is to become more familiar to talking to them. After all, practice makes perfect. If you struggle with talking to others, try and push yourself to talking more often and cease over-analyzing. Relax and breathe, you’re only human, and you aren’t the only one! If you struggle with the new and unfamiliar, practice putting yourself in situations where you struggle at first but gradually get better. You will be surprised by how much this can benefit your life. Stay confident, stay yourself, always be positive, keep an open mind and put yourself out there. It may be difficult, but by taking this advice, you can learn how to rid of that social anxiety in no time.