I am in trouble about my social habits and weak communication skills being an introvert.

I am an introvert by nature. I know it is completely normal to be one. However, many times people judge me for being quiet and reserved. They are many times wrong but not always. I have poor communication skills and that can be improved only when I start interacting with new people in real life - not just on social media.
But you see, I am very demotivated to do so. Interaction with strangers exhausts my mental peace very easily. I then need to recharge myself by isolating in my room for next 2-3 days. This turbulent nature of my mind has to be dealt with.
Kindly guide me!
Asked by Sashy Boy
Answered
12/06/2021

Hello Sashy Boy,

I am glad you reached out for support at this time.  I am sorry you are struggling in this moment.  I would encourage you to start to work with a therapist to help you learn skills to help you overcome your struggles.  If we were to meet I would first talk to you about the counseling process through our site and how together we could help you obtain your goals going forward, how I work as a counselor and how I would try to help you through the counseling process.  

I would also take the first session to get to know you by asking you a few questions to get a better understanding of your struggles, so that I am able to focus on a plan and goals to work on going forward. I want you to know that you are not alone during this time even through you may feel like you are alone at this time.  During the therapy process you can have support 100% of the time as you are able to reach out and talk to a therapist 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

I am going to send you some skills and tools to help you during this time of struggle you are having.  If we were to work together we would be going over these and more tools to help you through our struggles and be able to ask for support from others.

How to Start a Conversation



1. Memorize some conversation starters

Here are several examples of good conversation starters for different social settings:

Party conversation starters

·         How do you know people here?

·         What brought you here?

·         Do you know [the name of the host]?

·         Where are you from?

·         I like your [part of their outfit], where did you get it?

·         I believe we met before at [place where you met before]?

·         Hello, my name is [name]. What’s your name?

Dinner conversation starters

·         Have you tried the [dish]?

·         What’s your favorite type of cuisine?

·         If you opened a restaurant, what kind of place would it be?

·         What’s the most exotic thing you’ve ever eaten?

·         What’s your favorite comfort food?

·         Are you a keen cook?

·         What’s the worst thing you’ve ever eaten?

Work conversation starters

·         What department do you work in?

·         What projects have you been working on recently?

·         Where did you work before you started this job?

·         What do you like most about working here?

·         Did you have to relocate for this job?

·         How do you handle stress when work gets busy?

·         I think the company’s new policy on [whatever the policy is about] is [give your opinion]. What do you think?

Group conversation starters

When you join a group conversation, avoid rehearsed conversation starters. Instead, listen in on what people are already talking about and contribute to the ongoing conversation. With that said, there are times where a topic dies out. Here are some ideas for how to start a new interesting group conversation.

·         Have you heard the news about [news story]?

·         Have any of you seen [recent movie release]? What did you think of it?

·         What does everyone think of [latest episode of popular TV show]?

·         Has anyone heard the new album by [artist]?

·         Have any of you met before?

·         What’s everyone’s dream vacation?

Conversation starters for dating/asking a guy/girl/crush

·         What’s your favorite thing to do when you have a day off work?

·         What’s your family like?

·         Do you have any cool hidden talents?

·         When did you last go to the movies?

·         Do you have a bucket list? What’s on it?

·         When you and your best friend hang out, what do you like to do?

·         When was the last time you felt really proud of yourself?

Conversation starters for friends

·         How’s it going with [something you’ve talked about before]?

·         What’s your favorite memory?

·         Would you ever like to be famous? If so, what would you like to be famous for?

·         Do you ever think about what you’ll do when you retire?

·         Have you ever been so embarrassed that you wanted the ground to swallow you up?

·         When do you think we’ll be able to take day trips into space?

·         Have you ever wanted to keep a rare or exotic pet, like a tarantula?

For most situations, you’re better off starting a conversation based on the situation rather than using a memorized line. The remainder of this guide will cover how to do this.

2. Ask something about the situation

Examples of day-to-day situations where you might want to strike up a conversation

·         At the lunch table with a random person from another job department or class.

·         Standing with others in the hallway waiting for class to start.

·         Sitting next to another traveler on a train or plane.

Don’t ask direct questions in day-to-day life

At social events, which we talk about here, the norm is that strangers present themselves to each other. In day-to-day life, on the other hand, you can’t be so direct.

Ask a simple question about the situation rather than the other person

To ease into a conversation, we can ask a question about the situation we’re in.

That gives us a reason to start talking, and it’s not too direct.

It helps to ask something that you already have on your mind. But if you don’t, you can use your surroundings or the situation for inspiration.

An example of a day-to-day conversation from last week

Last week I ended up next to someone on the train.

I’d been wondering if they served snacks on board. It was a natural conversation starter because it was already on my mind and related directly to my surroundings.

I asked her, “Excuse me, do you know if they serve snacks here?”

She responded with something like, “Hmm. Yeah, they should!”

It was natural for me to ask a follow-up question: “Good, I forgot breakfast today.” (Both of us smiled) Me: “Do you take this train often?”

Let’s go through some common worries about starting a conversation, and then I’ll talk more about follow-up questions.

3. Know that you don’t have to be clever

You don’t need to ask a deep or meaningful question. What you actually ask isn’t important.[1] You don’t have to try to come off as unique or smart in your first interaction. The best conversation starters are usually simple.

Asking a question is a way to signal that you’re friendly and open to social interaction.[2]

In reality, small talk is often mundane, and people are OK with that. Small talk is just a warm-up for more interesting conversation.

4. Look at the direction of their feet and gaze

When you know what to look for, you can tell from someone’s body language whether they want to talk to you. See this article for more tips: How to see if someone wants to talk to you.

It’s normal to just get a short “yes” or “no” answer to your first question. It doesn’t mean that people don’t want to talk to you, just that you have to give them a few seconds to switch over to “social mode.”

But if they only give short answers to your follow-up questions, it’s usually a good idea to say “Thanks” or “Nice chatting with you” and move on.

Article continues below.

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Look at the direction of their feet and the direction of their gaze. If they look away from you a lot or point their feet away from you, it’s often a good sign that they want to end the conversation.[3] You might have lots of interesting things to talk about, but the other person might not be in the mood for social interaction. It doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong, so try not to take it personally.

Make sure your body language is friendly and open

Your body language needs to match your words; it should signal that you are relaxed, trustworthy, and happy to talk.

Remember to:

·         Maintain good eye contact. Don’t overdo it, or you’ll come across as intimidating or creepy. This article will help you get the balance right.

·         Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Avoid rocking or swaying because these movements make you appear nervous.

·         Stand or sit up straight, but do not stiffen your back. Push your chest out slightly and keep your head up. Good posture signals confidence.

·         Use a genuine smile. When we smile naturally, our eyes crease slightly at the corners. You can practice this in a mirror so it comes easily to you during conversations.

For more advice on how to improve your body language, see this guide.

5. Ask follow-up questions

To signal that we’re interested in talking to someone, we can ask follow-up questions.

In the example with the train, I asked: “Do you take this train often?” That’s a simple follow-up to my question about whether there were snacks available on board.

Rather than asking a series of general questions like, “Where are you from?,” “How do you know people here?,” and “What do you do?,” you can use follow-up questions to dig deeper.

For example:

You could ask, “Where are you from?” followed by, “What was it like growing up there?” and then, “What do you miss the most about it?”

Digging into a subject like this rather than asking superficial questions tends to make the conversation more interesting.

6. Mix asking questions with sharing about yourself

We don’t want to ask too many questions in a row or talk too much about ourselves. So how do you find the balance? Use the IFR method.

Inquire: Ask a sincere question

Follow up: Ask a follow-up question

Relate: Share a little bit about yourself that relates to what they said

You can then start the loop again by asking a new sincere question (Inquire).

The other day I was talking to someone who turned out to be a filmmaker. Here’s how the conversation went:

Inquire:

Me: What kind of documentaries do you do?

She: Right now, I’m doing a movie on bodegas in New York City.

Follow up:

Me: Oh, interesting. What’s your take away so far?

She: That almost all bodegas seem to have cats!

Relate:

Me: Haha, I’ve noticed that. The one next to where I live has a cat who always sits on the counter.

And then I inquire (IFR repeat):

Me: Are you a cat person?

You want to make the conversation go back and forth. They talk a little bit about themselves, we talk about ourselves, then let them talk again, and so on.[4]

7. Use open-ended questions

An open-ended question is a question that requires more than a “Yes” or “No” in response. By using open-ended questions, people often feel inspired to give a longer answer.

Examples of closed-ended questions:

Did you like school?

What’s your job title?

Are you going to take a vacation this year?

Examples of open-ended questions:

What was school like for you?

What sort of things do you do at work?

What would your ideal vacation be like?

However, this doesn’t mean that all closed-ended questions are bad. For example, if you initiate a conversation in day-to-day life, an open-ended question can feel too abrupt, while a close-ended question is more natural:

For example, “Are you done reading that magazine?” is more natural than “What did you think of that magazine?”

Here’s a longer list of examples of closed and open-ended questions.

8. Know that tone is more important than words

The impression you make on other people depends partly on what you say, but it mainly depends on how you say it.

Many people focus too much on what to say rather than their delivery.

You want to speak in a friendly and relaxed tone of voice. If you do, you don’t have to worry about the exact words you use.

Examples of how to start a conversation in day to day life

Rather than fabricating questions, you can ask about things that are genuinely interesting or at least relevant to the situation (like I did on that train). Don’t worry about asking obvious questions. If you sound friendly and relaxed, the questions will sound natural.

When sitting next to someone on a train or plane:

You: “Do you know how to make the seats recline?” (Question about the situation)

They: “You have to press the button to the right.”

You: “Thanks! Are you also going to Denver?” (Closed follow up-question)

They: “Yes, I am! I’m going to visit my family.”

You: “Nice, me too. I haven’t been home in 6 months. Where do you live now?” (Sharing about yourself and asking an open follow-up question)

When having to socialize during lunchtime with someone from another department at work:

You: “What kind of fish is that?” (Question about the situation)

They: “I don’t know actually.”

You: “I’m no fish expert either, haha. But it looks good. What department do you work in?”

(They explain where they work)

You: “Okay, nice, I work at (explains). How do you like it over there?” (Sharing something about yourself and asking an open follow-up question)

Waiting with someone else in the corridor for class to start:

You: “Is this the physics lecture hall?” (Question about the situation)

They: “Yeah.”

You: “Great. How do you feel about the test?” (Open follow-up question)

They: “I hope it’ll go well. I felt like I grasped the material better yesterday when I went through it again.”

You: “Yeah, same here, even though I didn’t have time to check out the last chapter. How come you chose this course?” (Sharing something about yourself and asking an open follow-up question)

9. Make a positive remark

This is my go-to method with people I’ve only had short interactions with before, like a “Hi” or a “How are you?”

Because you know each other a little bit, you can be a little bit more direct than you can be with complete strangers.

Examples of situations where you can use this method:

·         When sitting next to someone you barely know at a friend’s dinner.

·         When you want to speak to someone from another class who you’ve previously exchanged nods with in the corridor.

·         When you want to talk with the barista at the cafe where you get your morning coffee every morning.

In these situations, I make a positive remark about something in the environment.

Examples of positive remarks:

“The salmon looks delicious!”

“This place looks great since they renovated it!”

“It smells wonderful in here! I love the smell of freshly roasted coffee.”

(I don’t make positive remarks about them, e.g., “I like your dress,” because this type of remark can feel too personal if you are only acquaintances.)

When you say something positive, you’ll come off as more friendly. After all, they don’t know you yet, so their first impression of you will be based on the first few words they hear.

You can now continue the conversation, as I showed in these examples.

10. Use your five senses

It tends to be harder than usual to think in social situations, and sometimes it’s difficult to come up with anything to say about our surroundings.

The five senses exercise can help. By tuning into your senses and noticing what is going on around you, you can get the inspiration you need to begin a conversation with anyone.

It also acts as a grounding exercise that helps reduce your anxiety. Instead of focusing on your anxious thoughts, you’re fully present and living in the moment.[5]

Use each of your five senses to notice things in your environment.

See if there are things in your room that you can:

·         See

·         Hear

·         Feel

·         Taste

·         Smell

Have you found five things? Great!

Can you choose one or two things and say something positive about them? Or, if you want a real challenge, can you find something positive to say about all five?

You can use this method whenever you want to start a conversation.

Here’s what I came up with when I did this exercise. They are all good examples of good questions to start a conversation:

“I like indoor plants. It makes the room much nicer.”

“That’s a great design for a kitchen.”

“You can see really far from here.”

“I love the coffee smell.”

“I wonder if coffee tastes good just because it makes me feel good, or if I actually like the taste of the coffee itself?”

“I like it when the evenings get a bit chillier.”

But David, you might be thinking, these are just meaningless statements!

What we’re doing here is signaling to people, “I’m not a threat, and I’m open to making conversation if you are.”

It’s not about what you say – it’s about what you convey.[6]

That’s why it’s important to make positive remarks. It shows that we’re friendly.[7] You can find more conversation openers here.

11. Ask a few “Getting To Know You” questions

In day-to-day life, we need to break the ice before we can start interacting with someone.

But sometimes, we’re expected to talk to people. In these situations, you can start the conversation by asking a question about them. I call this the Getting To Know You method.

Examples: Starting a conversation by asking these “Getting To Know You” questions

These questions can be used to get to know someone new at work, in school, at a party, mingle, or dinner.

“Hi, Nice to meet you! I’m David…”

“… How do you know people here?”

“… Where are you from?”

“… What do you do?”

Pro tip: I’ve memorized these questions, so I can fire one off if I run out of other things to say to start a conversation.

 

Here are some examples that also illustrate how you can use follow-up questions to keep the conversation going:

You, at a writing workshop: “How do you know people here?”

They: “I know Becka over there.”

You: “Nice, how do you know each other?”

(They explain)

You: “OK, I see. I know Jessica. She and I are friends from college. She loves writing, so she asked me to come, and now I’m very happy I did. How did you and Becka get into writing?”

You, at a friend’s party: “Where are you from?”

They: “I’m from upstate New York.”

You: “Cool, do you live in NYC now, or do you commute?”

(They explain)

You: “I’m from Sweden originally but moved here a few years ago. How do you like it here?”

You: “Hi, I’m David. Nice to meet you. What brings you here?”

They: “I’m here because I always wanted to learn more about photography.”

You: “Me too! What do you like most about photography?”

(They explain)

You can then tell them what you like most about photography, and then you can ask a follow-up question: “What’s it like shooting analog compared to digital?”

As you can see in these examples, you want to share a little bit about yourself in between asking questions.

How to Not Get Nervous Talking to People

 

1. Focus on getting to know people

Focus on the conversation you’re having and try to get to know the person.

This makes us more confident. Instead of focusing on every little thing we might be doing wrong, we’re able to be present with the other person.

When we fully focus on the conversation, it can make us curious. Curiosity activates our “exploratory drive” and questions automatically start popping up in our heads. That makes it easier to know what to say.

That’s part of why it’s so easy to talk to close friends. We don’t run out of things to say because we’re focused on the conversation or the surroundings rather than what they might think of us.

If you walk into a room full of strangers, you can get the same results by focusing on those around you even if you’re not talking to someone. “I wonder what her job might be”. “That’s a nice T-shirt”, etc.

2. Check-in on yourself occasionally

Sometimes we feel the need to check in on ourselves. For example, I came to think about my posture the other day in a conversation. I corrected my posture and then moved my attention back to the conversation.

It’s OK to “check-in” on yourself like that. That can help us feel a little more in control. We just don’t want to get stuck thinking about ourselves.

3. Accept your thoughts and feelings

If you feel worried or have negative thoughts like “what will they think of me” – do the following:

If you try to fight your feelings of nervousness or anxiety, that can make you feel worse about yourself. When you instead accept that you are nervous, you take control over those feelings.

“I feel nervous right now and that’s OK”. After all, being nervous isn’t worse or more dangerous than being hungry or tired. They are all feelings.

4. Practice focusing outward while watching movies

Sometimes, the brain wants to do the opposite of what we want it to do. When we want to focus on others, it wants to worry about how others see us.

You can teach your brain to focus outward (rather than worrying about you) by repeatedly moving your focus back to someone else.

The next time you’re watching someone talking on Youtube or in a movie, you can practice re-focusing your attention.

Move your attention from the person you’re watching (their appearance, manners, energy level, etc), to the topic they’re talking about (ask yourself questions about it, practice being curious about it), to yourself (how you feel, how others might view you), then back to the person, and repeat several times.

Training your attention outside of social settings makes it easier to refocus in real social settings.

5. Practice being curious about others

Let’s say that right now, you meet this woman at an event:

You ask her how she’s doing, and she replies:

“I’m alright but jetlagged. I just came home from France”.

If you’re like I used to be, your anxiety might kick in and say something like this:

“Uh oh, she’ll think I’m a loser for never being to Europe. She looks skeptical, I can tell. Hmm, should I tell her about that time I was in Cancun? I mean, that shows I’ve traveled at least a bit. WHAT SHOULD I SAY?”

Confident people focus on what she says, and are curious about it.

“Oh, she’s been to France – how come? What did she do there? Did she like it? Where in France? What was the weather like? Has she been there before?”

You shouldn’t ask all these questions. This is just to show your internal monologue. But – you can ask ANY of those questions. Focusing outward makes it EASIER to come up with things to say.

Scroll back up at the photo and see if you can come up with some more questions about her, by focusing on what she said. That is a GREAT exercise to learn to refocus and be better at making conversation. If you can’t come up with anything, that’s fine! But that’s a sign that you want to practice focusing outward. Here, I’ve written about how to make interesting conversation by focusing outward.

6. See nervousness as excitement

When we do something new, we feel fear. But doing new things gives us experience and makes us feel happier with life.  In other words, fear and nervosity is a sign of something good about to happen!

In fact, the body’s response to nervousness and excitement is exactly the same

 

When you’re excited or scared you’re feeling the same feeling. It’s just that we tend to interpret anxiety as something bad and excitement as something good.

You can say to yourself: What I feel is excitement for something good about to happen.

7. Do things just slightly outside your comfort zone

There’s no point in going way out of our comfort zone. We want to be in the sweet spot of it. We can only be in the terrifying part for a few minutes. We can be in the exciting zone regularly as a habit.

Practicing terrifying things can help you do terrifying things in the future. You want to build your ability to do things that are meaningful to you, like meeting new, interesting people or having a relaxed conversation and form a connection.

Here’s an example of what this can look like in real life:

If you’re used to just nodding to the cashier in your supermarket, say “Hi”. If you’re used to just saying “Hi”, ask her how she’s doing. If you’re used to asking her how she’s doing, joke with her (And so on).

LESSON LEARNED: Don’t do what’s dull. Don’t do what’s terrifying. Make it a habit to do things SLIGHTLY out of what you’re used to. That way, your comfort expands a little every day.

(Therapists call this graded exposure. This is one of the methods that therapists use to treat social anxiety.[12] It’s something you can try on your own, but if you’d like extra support, you can find a therapist or counselor and they will give you expert guidance.)

8. Understand how insecure other people are

Look at these numbers. They might surprise you.

·         1 in 10 have had social anxiety at some point in their lives.

·         1 in 3 millennials say they have no close friends.

·         5 out of 10 see themselves as shy.

·         5 out of 10 don’t like the way they look. (Only 4% of women feel comfortable describing themselves as beautiful.)[

·         8 of 10 feel uncomfortable being the center of attention.

·         9 out of 10 have some type of body insecurity.

Realizing this changed something in me.

Let’s do an exercise that uses this realization to our advantage.

Imagine that you’re at the outdoor meetup event above and don’t know anyone. How would you feel? Quite uncomfortable, I’d guess. Now, look at the image again but focus on how 9 out of 10 of them carry some kind of insecurity. Some might be loud and intimidating, others look calm, but that’s their way of looking confident.  In reality, they’re quite insecure!

Therapists describe this as acquiring more realistic beliefs.   It’s when we crush the false idea that everyone is confident but us.

Simply reminding us of this fact makes us less nervous around people

 

 

9. See talking to someone as helping them out

When we carry negative beliefs about ourselves, we can behave in a way that creates a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If you believe that you’re the only one at the gathering who feels anxious or awkward, then maybe you’re going to stay silent or leave early, and that’s just going to make you feel more isolated from everyone else.

If you instead can update your belief with the more realistic view that lots of other people at the party also feel anxious, you might realize that you can actually help someone else out by starting a conversation with them.

Instead of choosing to withdraw you choose to engage.

10. Speak to yourself as you would to a friend

If you fear that people will judge you, or think bad things about you, it can be a symptom that you are judging and thinking bad things about yourself. Psychologists call this projection: We project our own view of ourselves onto others. As long as we’ll judge ourselves, we’ll assume that others will judge us, too.

With this in mind, the way to stop feeling judged by others is to stop judging yourself. So how do you do that? When we speak to ourselves in a different way, we can change the way we value ourselves.

Instead of saying things like…

“I’m so stupid/ugly/worthless”

You can say…

“I made a mistake, and that’s human. Everyone makes mistakes.”.

Or, say that you judge yourself for not being good socially. You can remind yourself of a moment where you did do good socially.

Some find it helpful to keep a journal where they write three positive things about themselves each day. The things can be as small as “I brushed my teeth today” or “I can be funny sometimes”. The important thing is to be consistent.

By challenging your own judging voice, you slowly change the way you see yourself. As a result, you also change the way you assume that others see you. Sometimes it can be hard to break out of these thought patterns by yourself. In these cases, therapy can help.

11. Dare to be friendly even when you’re nervous

When I met new people, I was always cautious (To not risk being rejected). People saw me as aloof.

Naturally, they responded by being aloof back. That reinforced my worldview that people didn’t like me.

When I realized this, I decided to try to dare to be warm toward people FIRST. (Just as an experiment – I didn’t think it would even work.)

But the results were amazing. When I dared to be warm toward people off the bat, they were warm toward me, too!

Here are some examples of showing warmth: 

·         Asking people a question or two about how they’re doing and what they’ve been up to. It’s effective because it signals that you care.

·         If someone pulls a joke or tells a story, show appreciation by laughing or making a positive remark. It can be as little as “Haha, I love that story!”

·         If you like what someone’s doing, let them know about it. “I liked what you said before regarding apartment designs”.

·         If you tend to “play it cool” or restrict your facial expressions as a safety behavior, practice being more expressive. (Acting more like you do with people you are comfortable with).

We dislike people who we think dislike us. We like people who we think like us.

Here, I explain in more detail how to be more friendly. 

12. Choose to accept your flaws

I used to obsess that my nose was big. I decided to accept that it was part of me. I stopped trying to hide the fact that I had a big nose and owned it. I didn’t try to convince myself that my nose was small. Instead, I accepted the fact that my nose isn’t small. As a result, I stopped worrying about being judged for my nose. That made me more comfortable and likable.

If we walk through life hoping that no one notices our insecurities or fears, we will always be afraid that someone might “find out”.

We can choose to accept all our flaws. A friend of mine stopped being afraid to share that he was afraid and had insecurities. Something unexpected happened. When he stopped caring about those flaws, his nervosity faded away. This doesn’t mean that he walks up to people and tell them about his insecurities. It’s about accepting that it’s OK that people DO KNOW about our insecurities.

If someone would walk up to you and say: Are you nervous? It’s a relief to not have to hide it, but to be able to say “Yes, I am.”

Being completely accepting of ourselves likes this makes us less nervous.

 

13. Use your surroundings for inspiration

Focus on your surroundings, the situation, and those you meet and use it as an inspiration for new conversation topics. Here are some examples of how to do this in practice.

Topics inspired by the situation

If you’re, say, in the lunchroom at work or outside of the classroom in school, people aren’t always prepared to socialize. Here, you want to “ease in” by asking something regarding the situation first…

“Excuse me, do you know when this class will start?”

“Hi, where did you find the coke?”

“Do you know if there’s another bathroom around here?”

You’ll probably just get a short yes or no to this question, but a simple question like this is important as a warm-up to make your next question more natural and not as “out of the blue”.

Now, you can ask a question based on the person – like, “Thanks. I’m David by the way. I started working here a few days ago. How do you find the place?”

14. Practice coming up with statements in your head

I made it a habit to make statements and ask questions in my head about stuff I saw when I walked down the street.

After some time, I automatically started focusing outward instead of worrying as much about me.

Here’s an exercise you can do right now to come up with these statements:

1. Look around your room, and make statements in your head about things you see.

“I like that lamp” “That plant needs water” “The sun really lights up this room” “The countertop is so messy” (And so on).

2. When you go outside, ask yourself questions about those you see

“I wonder where he’s from?” “I wonder what she’s doing for work?” “Is she nervous or is that how she always looks?”

Notice how this makes you less self-conscious.

When you practice this new way of thinking, coming up with new topics gets easier.

When a topic dies out, you can naturally start a new one based on thoughts you already have in your head.

“Is that a Samsung phone you got there? Happy with it? I’m thinking about ditching my iPhone.”

 

15. Return to earlier conversation topics

When a topic runs dry with someone you’ve talked with for a while, jump back to any of the things you’ve talked about before.

Here’s an example from a conversation I had the other day:

She: So yeah, that’s why I like Canon better than Sony because the second-hand market is much larger for Canon…

Me: Interesting… (Conversation dies out)

Me: You mentioned that you lived in Ukraine earlier. Did you make films there as well or what did you do?

If this feels hard, it gets easier when you focus outward as I talked about at the beginning of this article.

Think back to a conversation you had with someone:

·         What topics did you cover?

·         What could you ask about those topics?

·         If you have a hard time coming up with questions, you want to focus more on the actual conversation. (Earlier in this guide I talked about how curiosity activates our “exploratory drive”.)

·         When you watch a movie you like, questions pop up in your head all the time. “Who’s the murderer?” “Who took the gun?”. Why? Because focus leads to curiosity. In the same way, you want to focus on the conversation you’re having.

16. Ask yourself whether mistakes really matter

Know that confident people say as many stupid things as nervous people do. It’s just not as big of a deal for them.

I felt like I was always just one wrong word from losing everyone’s approval. I thought that I had to be PERFECT.

It’s normal to have some fear of making mistakes – nobody wants to mess up. But the issue is having TOO MUCH fear of making mistakes.

Psychologists call this Catastrophizing – when you believe that a social mistake means YOUR LIFE IS RUINED and PEOPLE HATE YOU and therefore YOU MUST AVOID IT AT ALL COSTS.[28]

Meanwhile, a more realistic belief is that a social mistake would create a minor socially awkward moment that would be uncomfortable but would be forgotten in ten minutes.

Fear of being judged, nervousness, and social anxiety, all boils down to being overly afraid of making mistakes.[29] In other words, anxious people overestimate the effect of social mistakes. We think that for people to like us, we have to be perfect. If we mess up, everyone will judge us.

When you beat yourself up for something you said, ask yourself if you had cared if someone else had said it. Would you dislike the person? Or would you just find that person a bit more relatable?

17. Ask what a confident person would have done

When you feel like you’ve messed up, ask yourself how a confident person would have reacted if they’d made the same mistake.

Do you know a really confident person? If so, you can have that person as your point of reference. Or, you could have someone like The Rock or Jennifer Lawrence in mind. How would they have reacted if they’d made the same mistake you just made?

Most often, we can assume that they would’ve just made a joke about it or wouldn’t care.

18. Ask something slightly personal

When I asked my readers what made you the most nervous in social settings, one issue that came up was the worry of not being interesting enough.

You won’t get to know someone by talking about facts and opinions. When we switch over to talk about what’s personal, the conversation gets interesting.

Maybe you talk about how rents are high. If we get stuck on this topic, most people get bored after a while. So, we want to switch the conversation into PERSONAL MODE.

So, maybe you say “Yeah, the rents are ridiculous. I have this dream to move to the countryside one day and buy my own house instead. Where do you think you’ll be living in a few years?”

Do you see what happened there?

By sharing something slightly personal, the conversation feels more interesting!

g an organization such as Toastmasters International, which is designed to help people get used to public speaking.

Practice each speech as well. The more times you do it, the easier it can be to remember. Consider recording yourself. Each time you practice, pick out one thing that you want to work on and try to do that better next time. When you watch the recordings, make sure that you also notice all of the things that you have done right or gotten better at.

4. If it goes wrong, pretend to be cool

As with everything else, public speaking can sometimes go wrong. You might forget what you’re about to say, your presentation might not load on the screen or you might get the microphone stuck in your hair. I’ve seen all of these happen in professional presentations and it’s been fine.

The person who forgot what they were about to say took a sip of water and said “And this is why we bring notes”. The audience chuckled while she checked her notes and she carried on. Afterwards, she told me that she’d been cringing inside but she’d just tried to look cool about it. Honestly, we were all really impressed at how relaxed she’d seemed.

Pretending to be relaxed about mistakes isn’t easy. Try having a prepared reaction to potential problems. You could say “Well, that wasn’t in my plan. Oh well. Let’s carry on anyway”. You might not feel relaxed to start with, but this really is an area where it’s worth trying to ‘fake it till you make it’.

I hope that these skills have been helpful for you in your struggles you have been facing at this time. I am going to give you my information if you are wanting to start to process through and work on your struggles going forward, please reach out to Betterhelp and ask to be matched with Crystal Westman. If we were to work together we would work on more skills and tools to help you when you are struggling and get back to a positive space.  I encourage you to reach out for support at this time to help you get to the best version of yourself.