How To Be Socially Confident When Your Calendar Fills Up
First off, know that this makes perfect sense if you’re feeling a little unsure of interacting with people you haven’t seen in ages, according to Harville Hendrix, PhD, and Helen LaKelly Hunt, PhD, the Founders of Safe Conversations, a therapy workshop company aimed at helping people improve their communication skills. With that in mind, they have some tips that can help. Below, check out their four expert-backed strategies for how to be socially confident as we move into the summer season and beyond.
4 tips for having social self-confidence, according to psychologists
1. Start small and take it slow.
After over a year of limited socializing, at best, in person, going straight into party mode can get you comfortable. This is why you may benefit from starting to socialize only with your loved ones – the people you are less likely to “gamble” for. By keeping your in-person social network small to begin with and only doing activities that you’re comfortable with at the moment, you’ll be more likely to feel confident about reinserting yourself into social situations.
“Work up to large gatherings and make yourself comfortable to avoid panic at social events.” —Helen LaKelly Hunt, PhD
“It will sound different to everyone, but gradual progression will help you feel more in control,” says Dr. Hunt. “Maybe you start by having a few friends, then go out to dinner with friends, then attend a small party. Go to large gatherings and get comfortable to avoid panic at social events. “
2. Set limits and say no
Another important strategy to help you gain confidence is to refuse or separate yourself from situations that will make you feel exposed. “If you’re not comfortable, you can go,” says Dr. Hendrix. If you don’t want to be with people you don’t know, say something.
3. Be curious and ask questions
Why is that? Because if you feel embarrassed in a social situation, asking questions of others takes the spotlight away. Plus, research shows that asking questions, especially follow-up questions, can make you more likable. Take this opportunity to learn and become massively popular with friends.
“Make sure you ask questions and reflect the person,” says Dr. Hendrix. “Show genuine interest in what they’re saying without turning it around to focus on yourself. Overall, this makes you a more interesting and engaging conversation partner, which leads to better social interactions. “
4. Establish a pre-social coping mechanism for your anxiety.
A little self-soothing ritual can work wonders in soothing feelings of anticipated social anxiety. Identify something that you know is a proven coping strategy and build it into your pre-socialization routine – like second nature like grabbing your keys before you go.
“Anxiety and the way you deal with it are different for everyone, so it’s important to find what works best for you,” says Dr. Hendrix. “For example, [you can] use a mantra to focus your brain, adopt breathing exercises, do short retreats in another room, or write. “
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