Everyone faces socially awkward situations very often in their lives, but there are few who come out of it effectively. The ones who don’t or the ones who find it the hardest to deal with such instances are usually the most introverted or socially shy. Although being shy is not a bad thing, it may hinder your growth in terms of getting to know people or coming by opportunities. Extreme shyness can lead to lack of friends or a social group, and this in turn could be the driving force behind depression.
Overcoming shyness may seem like the hardest thing in the world to you if you’re a reclusive person, but once you learn to put yourself out there, it’ll seem like a piece of cake. Here are a few simple steps to become less shy.
Look in the mirror every morning and tell yourself how outgoing you’re going to be that day. You may not be able to put this into action the first few days, but it will set the wheels in motion. Practice smiling in the mirror and focus more on your good points rather than on your flaws. For an introvert, the greatest fear is that the world will judge him/her. It’s alright to focus all your energy selfishly on yourself. Remember that only you can make yourself a better person. Think of great conversation starters like introductions, questions or compliments (these work the best!) to ensure that you’re ready when you meet someone new.
Another great way to practice is to implement techniques on your close ones. Work on eye contact, introductions, handshakes, conversation starters and so on with your inner circle and ask for genuine feedback. This way you’ll know where you’re going wrong. Slowly employ the same techniques with your acquaintances and then move on to unfamiliar people.
For some, it’s the face to face conversation that’s the toughest. But sometimes, even a simple but formal phone call can be nerve-wracking. In such cases, note down the things you have to say, and rehearse them out loud assuming the other person’s reaction. Remember that the conversation may not go exactly as rehearsed, so be prepared for a change in the conversation flow. The best part of a phone conversation is that you’re not visible to the other person, so use that to your advantage.
2. Engage in a hobby
Engaging in your hobby with an unknown group of people is one of the easiest ways to ease up in a social situation. Join a fun cooking or gardening class that will allow you to get your hands dirty and create a jovial atmosphere to get to know each other. There are many people out there who come to these things alone, even though they have their set of friends, only to meet new people who share their interests. The simplest way to start a conversation here is to talk about the hobby itself, and everything else will follow. Worse comes to worst, if you don’t find anyone willing to speak to you, you can always just focus on the activity!
3. Work on your style
Go out and buy yourself a great outfit, get a new hairdo or engage in a spa treatment. Believing that you’re looking good is the best way to break out of your shell. Mix and match you’re outfits to create a new style. Focus on your best features and highlight them. If you’re invited to a party, put in some more time to dress yourself up. Chances are you’ll be the one getting the compliments than the one giving them! This will be a great confidence booster.
4. Stay updated
Keep yourself in tune with the latest news and happenings from around the world. Reading up on newspapers, magazines and books will help build your trivia. Talking about the current goings-on at a social situation is another good way to break the ice with unknown people. If you’re knowledgeable and well spoken, people will value your opinions and pay attention to what you’re saying.
5. Don’t be sensitive
Try not to be too touchy about certain things. It’s a given that the minute you try to open up to people, there will be situations that will not go as planned. Learn to take things easy and don’t take jokes too seriously. There may be times when no matter how hard you try, you will not find people welcoming. Look at such situations as a stepping stone – the next time you meet a tough crowd, you’ll know exactly how to deal with them!
6. Push yourself
It is extremely important to push yourself to step out of your comfort zone. You may love sitting alone in a corner with your drink, but you’ll never know what you’re missing out on unless you make an effort. Avoid being an egoist – this could get in the way of your efforts. Don’t expect people to talk to you; in fact, make sure you always start a good conversation. Everyone loves an open person that likes to loosen up once in a while, especially one who initiates a conversation. Even if it’s just a simple question or a silly joke, don’t be afraid to say it. You’re bound to make a friend or two this way.
When speaking to someone, take their name. You’ll be surprised at how positively people react to being called by their names. Another important thing – look people straight in the eye. Don’t stare them down so as to make them uncomfortable, but do it to the extent that you exude a certain amount of confidence. This way, people know that you’re not afraid of being judged by them, and they’ll stop even if they secretly are!
Remember that the more you practice, the better you’ll get at the whole ‘opening up’ game. There will come a time when you’ll be totally at ease in situations that you would have earlier avoided.
Visual Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/68726162@N00/