Meeting and talking to new people is meant to be super exciting. Whether you meet someone in a bar, at a networking event, on your first day of work, or even on a random Internet video chat such as Blab, new people offer something fresh and different.
But wouldn’t it be just so great if you could overcome your shyness and awkwardness and actually have an amazing conversation?!
Social anxiety can be really crippling. Around 17,000,000 American’s suffer with it today, and it can prevent us from connecting with new people. But while social anxiety is thrust into the limelight by statistics, millions of other adults around the world are also struggling with innate shyness.
If you’re sick and fed up of scuppering new friendships and relationships because of your shyness, here are a few ways that will help you beat it.
The idea that some of us were born with confidence and some of us were not is a total myth that robs you of a bit of hope. God didn’t dish out confidence at birth, giving bags full to Hollywood stars and leaving you with the scraps. While some people are naturally confidence, confidence can still be learned by the rest of us – including you.
To act more confidently, it’s a good idea to model your actions, behaviours and speech on those of someone you really admire. Pick a role model and watch their videos. Listen to how they talk, look out for their body language and how they compose themselves.
Modelling ourselves on someone else is a great way to improve what we’ve got. If someone else has the gift of confidence, there’s no reason why you can’t have it, too.
Grow Your Knowledge
One of the reasons we find conversations with new people daunting is because we’ve got very little to say – or at least think we have. Maybe the people we’re hanging around with have taken the conversation into territory that we’re a little unsure of, and so we shrink into our shell and wait until someone brings the topic back to the weather.
If you feel as though you have little to talk about in conversations besides the weather, Games of Thrones and Beyonce, building up your knowledge base is a good way to expand the scope of your topics. Read books, listen to podcasts and watch YouTube videos. Watch the news, keep abreast of current events.
Make Yourself Vulnerable
A lot of us are scared of making ourselves vulnerable because we’ve been conditioned to believe that vulnerability is a sign of weakness that exposes our faults to the world.
In actual fact, vulnerability can be used as a strength.
When we make ourselves vulnerable to people, we tear off the shackle’s of shyness. We are able to have more open and honest conversation with people, and this in turn improves our relationships.
Vulnerability is a sign that you have real emotions and that you’re not afraid of them.
Observe How Others Act
I have this friend who is super confident. She absolutely amazes me with her confidence because, to look at her, you would not readily assume that she had so much esteem when it came to talking to any type of person.
When I felt nervous about talking to new people, I watched the way my friend did it. She literally didn’t care how others would perceive her. She was herself, and she was brilliant.
It’s important to watch how your friend’s interact with others, as well as how they are received by others. If you worry that you might get perceived badly, watch and learn!
Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of everything that is going on around you at the present moment.
If you’re eating, you’re aware of every chew you take.
If you’re drinking, you’re aware of every swallow you take.
And so on.
When you are in the present moment 100%, your social interactions improve. Rather than getting distracted by thoughts of “I can’t do this, I’m too shy,” you remain totally focused on the conversation and the people you are talking to.
This will help you to improve your skills and grow in confidence.
Ignore Your Inner Critic
We are often our worst critic, but while this is totally okay in many areas of life (because it pushes us to do better), it can be really damaging if we straight criticising ourselves mid-conversation.
Ignore your inner critic and just go with the flow. Be yourself.
Focus On Your Strengths
We all have strengths and weaknesses, but shy people tend to always focus on their weaknesses when they’re having a conversation with someone new. Perhaps you might focus on your wonky front tooth, or maybe you get distracted by a pretty insignificant spot on your cheek. It’s enough to distract you and prevent you from having a meaningful, exciting conversation.
It’s time to focus on your strengths.
If being positive is a strength of yours, bring it to the conversation.
If you have a nice smile, smile while you chat!
If your biggest knowledge lies with music, direct the chat to music.
Identify your strengths and double down on them.
Disliking yourself can certainly cause you embarrassment when you’re talking to someone new. Because you’re not so keen on yourself, it’s easy to assume that the other person will dislike you too.
It’s time to start loving yourself. Appreciate you for what you are. Write down everything you’re grateful for, as well as what you like about yourself. Make a note of your strengths and take some time getting to know who you really are. What are your values? What are your likes and dislikes? Take yourself on a date!
Probe The Other Person
When we’re shy, it can be really easy to focus on ourselves and our problems during a conversation. We listen to the other person going on a spiel, and we hope they’ll continue forever because we really don’t want to have to interject. We have nothing to say!
This kind of thinking will definitely kill a conversation, and eventually the other person will give up. For this reason, you should try shifting your focus from yourself onto them. Ask them questions about themselves, take an interest in them and work hard to probe them.
People like being asked questions, so don’t be afraid to dig deep.
Don’t Say That You’re Shy
Why label yourself by telling people you’re shy? Why put yourself on the back burner straight away like that? Instead of openly admitting you’re shy, perhaps describe yourself as quirky, individual, or even a little bit eccentric.