5 Ways to Be More Socially Confident
Here are some things that you probably wouldn’t know about me if you met me.
- I get intimidated talking to people I believe are superior to me.
- I hate speaking in public.
- Before going to parties I worry about who I’m going to talk to.
In other words, I’m socially anxious. Like you. Like everybody I know.
Right now, you’re probably running through a list of people you know who are confident, witty, charming and at ease. You’re probably trying to refute my claim that this is universal. So go to the person who is top of your most confident list and ask them if they ever feel socially uneasy. If they say never, I want to know about it.
There is a spectrum, of course. Some people are shy in specific situations. Others are socially paralysed most of the time. But we’re all doing a really good job of looking like we’re not. And this keeps us feeling separate and disconnected from each other.
Here are five ways to be more at ease socially
1. Recognise That You’re Not Alone
Survey your friends, family and colleagues. I did this over dinner recently with some trusted friends – all confidant seeming people. I was astounded by how anxious they were.
For one it was a fear of walking into a room full of strangers. They always go straight to the toilet. For another it was anxiety over fulfilling expectations in a room full of friends. For me it was talking up in a group of more than a few people. For another one on one conversations were challenging.
If asking other people directly is too threatening, Google “celebrity social anxiety.” You'll be amazed how people who you would think are confident struggle with shyness. Recognising you are not alone will alleviate some of the pressure you put on yourself and make you feel more compassionate towards others.
. Get Complete with Your Past
Scan back through your life and note all the times you felt humiliated, rejected or ashamed in the company of others. There will be some painful incidents. They are likely to determine how you operate with others now.
I worked with a woman recently who was teased at nursery when she was three years old for wearing an eye patch. It was deeply moving to think how painful this first foray into the wider social word was for her.
But that happened then. It is not happening now. Yet she is living as if it is. The story of her life was about being different, inadequate and vulnerable. She still feels as though she is wearing that eye patch.
Don’t let events from your past, however traumatic dictate the rest of your life.
3. Stop Thinking That You’re Inadequate
If we all felt at ease with ourselves, chances are we wouldn’t worry so much about what others thought of us. This takes some work. It is a common phenomenon: we filter out positive feedback and are seduced into fixating on the negatives. This is known as “mental filtering”. Try to be more balanced with yourself.
We also like to be coherent. If we think we are inadequate, we look for incidents that prove it. We don’t like dissonance. Embrace your inconsistencies and try to focus on your positive qualities. http://listofeverything.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/list-of-words-to-describe-positive-qualities-in-yourself-list-of-positive-qualities/
4. Be Authentic
The more you try to hide who you are the more anxious you will become about being found out. The more you say how it really is for you the more at ease you will be.
And you will realise that people will, in turn, be able to be themselves with you. The result will be more connection and less isolation.
The problem is we imagine we have to hide ourselves because we think other people won’t like us if they really get to know us. Once you have really mastered that we’re all in this together, you will feel more confident to come out of hiding.
5. Make Other People Feel At Ease
Now it’s time to stop concentrating on yourself and start to have a really positive impact on others.
Next time you are feeling shy, ignore your internal dialogue, banish the inner critic and remember that the person you are talking to is in all likelihood struggling too.
Make them feel at ease by being interested in them. Find out who they really are, encourage their authenticity and be to them what you would like others to be to you.