How To Talk To People: Overcoming Social Anxiety

Updated December 5, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Talking to new people can be stressful. Being social creatures, we may naturally want to make friends, and we also might want everyone we meet to like us. However, acquiring these friends can be the difficult part for many of us, especially if you have symptoms of mild to severe social anxiety. Here are some tips for making friends and important social connections even if you get anxious.

  1. Make The First Move

Are Social Interactions Causing You Anxiety?

Approaching someone can often be the hardest part but once you are there, you may find that the conversation itself is easier than expected. Try approaching someone with confident body language, such as your back straight and head held high.

  1. Start The Conversation With Something Simple

Not every conversation has to start out deep to turn into something meaningful. When you are trying to start a conversation, try leading in with something simple. For example, let's say that you are at a party, and you see someone you might want to strike up a conversation with. Instead of walking up to them and immediately telling your life story, try leading with something simple such as, "What are you drinking tonight?" or "How do you know the host?" These simple conversation starters are often enough to get the ball rolling, and thy may naturally lead to more profound conversations later on.

  1. Remain Interested And Attentive

Many people will notice and grow quickly frustrated if they see that you are not fully paying attention to the conversation. Be very attentive and listen closely to what they are saying. If you are paying attention, it will help the conversation flow naturally, because follow-up questions and relatable stories will inevitably arise.

Also try giving them cues that you are still listening throughout the conversation. For example, nodding your head and maintaining eye contact when they are saying something is often enough to make sure that they know you are still engaged and paying attention.

  1. Don’t Look At Your Phone

Social anxiety may drive you to hide or use a crutch when you're socializing -such as using your phone or avoiding eye contact- but these things can be off-putting to someone who does not know that you are dealing with anxiety, which can lend to the possibility of creating a negative experience or self-fulfilling prophecy. When overcoming social anxiety, it can be important to build positive social experiences that you can draw from in the future.

  1. Keep The Conversation Balanced

It can be easy to talk too much or talk too little when you are in a conversation with a new person. However, you might not want a conversation to feel like an interview for either side. Try to maintain a balance between telling personal stories and asking about their lives.  

  1. Know When A Conversation Has Ended

All conversations may run their course eventually. Pay attention to be able to identify when this has happened. Look out for clues that the other person wants to move on. Has the conversation run out of topics? Is the person you are speaking to subtly trying to depart? Look for these signs and respond appropriately. You don’t want to unintentionally pressure anyone.

  1. Don't Hold A Conversation That You Aren't Interested In

You shouldn't feel obligated to stick with a conversation that you aren't interested in, and you shouldn't feel guilty if you need to walk away from a conversation you don't want to be in. It is normal to move on if the conversational chemistry isn’t there.

  1. Be Prepared To Switch Topics Based On Who You Are Talking to

Some topics might last a while in a conversation and others might only last a few minutes. While you are talking to someone, take note of their interests and be prepared to move into those topics once the current topic has lost its appeal. This can not only show the other person that you are interested and listening, but it will also likely keep the conversation going longer.

  1. Don't Pretend To Be Something You're Not

Are Social Interactions Causing You Anxiety?

It might seem logical to pretend to be something to impress someone, but it can result in issues down the road. When you are talking to someone, be genuine. If you don't like something, let them know. If you can relate to something they said, let them know. Don't try to be someone else or else you might unintentionally avoid making a genuine connection with someone.

Social anxiety can make it hard to follow these steps. Are you anxious in public to the point that it is affecting your social life? If so, we recommend that you visit BetterHelp. BetterHelp is an online counseling platform dedicated to providing affordable and convenient counseling to those who need it. Does this sound like it could be for you? If so, click on the link above and you will find the right online counselor for you! Various studies have clearly demonstrated that online therapy is just as effective as in-person therapy when it comes to treating the symptoms of social anxiety. Online therapy comes with added benefits such as being more cost-effective, more convenient, and more accessible to people who have mobility issue or who live in a particularly remote area.

Takeaway

Sometimes social anxiety can make you feel as though meeting new people and talking to them is an overwhelming, or even frightening task. It can be perfectly normal to feel a little wariness when you first start talking to someone you don’t know, and this nervousness can even make you more aware and help you pick up on unspoken cues from this person. But when that nervousness goes beyond your control, you may decide to employ certain tools and resources, such as always remaining interested and attentive, and being true to your personality. Clinical studies have also demonstrated that online therapy is effective in treating the symptoms of social anxiety, so online therapy is a heathy option if you want to learn more about overcoming your symptoms.

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