Relationships are the key to success, happiness and longevity in nearly every aspect of life. From a spiritual perspective, essentially the reason why we are here on this earth is to form loving relationships with ourselves, our fellow human beings, and our higher power. From a professional standpoint, they are a crucial factor in generating a sale, retaining a client, or empowering an employee. Relationships are also extremely beneficial to our health, but sometimes they are hard to establish. Some people are simply wired to be more secluded than social, lack socialization abilities, are anxious around other people, or just don’t know how to approach a stranger when they want to establish a new relationship, which can be frustrating and bad for their confidence.
The good news is there are specific practices that help the socialization process. The ability to form new, meaningful relationship is often a learned skill that is obtained through practice of certain techniques, especially for those who tend to be a little on the shy side or anxious in a social setting. Here is a series of actionable steps that can improve upon socialization skills:
Step 1: The first step to reprogramming yourself begins with Identity. Your identity of being socially anxious can be shifted quite easily and WILL begin to reprogram your response to social situations fairly quickly.
From now on, you will replace your internal dialog with a new mantra, regardless of whether it is “true” or not.
For example….where you used to say “I have social anxiety ” or “I am shy”…
You will now say “I love talking to people” or “I’m learning to really enjoy social situations” or “I’m having fun interacting with others”
There is a lot if science behind this first step towards improving socialization. Essentially you are linguistically replacing an old belief with the possibility of a new, opposite belief. If you repeat it enough, your mind will accept the possibility and your behaviors and emotional response to social situations will follow that new emerging belief.
REPEAT THIS AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE EVERYDAY.
Step 2: Accept the FACT that you will have some bad interactions, some extraordinary ones and a lot of neutral ones.
In my experience, 70 percent of social interactions were just regular, lukewarm interactions, 15 percent were taxing and arduous, the other 15 percent were really fun and engaging. Some of us have come to associate all social situations with the ones that go bad.
Power through the “bad” ones, whether we are talking about dating, job interviews, conversations with strangers, or coworkers, or if you have to make a presentation.
Get the awkward ones out of the way by having them.
Don’t let fear of a small number of awkward conversations inhibit your approaches.
Remember, the more you approach people and engage them, the more success you will have – it’s a game of numbers!
Step 3: Intentionally choose to put yourself into those social situations which cause you anxiety or fear, but do it gradually. Find moments to briefly engage the situation and walk away.
THIS IS AN IMPORTANT AND ESSENTIAL STEP!!!
After you leave the situation, tell yourself something like “I did it. I made it. That wasn’t so bad. I’m still alive. No big deal, I’m still ok”.
This affirmation process, similar to step 1, is essential to the reprogramming process and confidence building.
As you gain more confidence with this practice, continue to increase your exposure to even greater fears and watch them grow smaller each time.
Try using a buddy system in these exercises to make it even easier and gain faster results.
Yes, it may seem scary to approach your fears, but YOU CAN DO IT!
And it’s easier than you think.
ENGAGE and GROW more CONFIDENT.
Step 4: Tips and shortcuts for easy conversations:
Part of the cause of social anxiety is the fear that we won’t know what to say and the conversations might be awkward, go quiet or we will feel intimidated or shy. The first 3 parts of this series begin to address that, but they will take a little bit of practice to produce lasting results. The following tips will produce IMMEDIATE results for you and those conversations will be easier NOW:
– Use your body language and hand gestures to match and mirror the person you are conversing with. Be subtle and do not mimic. Use your voice to match theirs. Raise or lower your voice to match. Adjust the speed of how fast or slow you’re talking. Repeat back keywords from time to time. Use similar eye contact patterns.
– Be more INTERESTED than interesting by asking lots of questions. People will answer every question you ask them and people love to talk about themselves. The more questions you ask, the more you can fill the time if you have nothing to say, until you find something in which you have common ground on.
– Add some excitement to your tone of voice and your facial expressions. This will get them to be more excited about connecting with you. Even if you’re not feeling it, when you pretend to be interested in what the other person is saying you will actually find yourself becoming more interested and they will be more engaging.
Say things like “REALLY?!” , or “Tell me more”, or “Wow! I didn’t know that!”.
– When you feel like you might be shy or intimidated, remember that everyone is just like you on some level. Literally look at the other person and imagine they are people who have hopes, dreams, problems, fears of their own, they face challenges and they have needs. When you can look at someone in this light, it levels the playing field and the anxiety will fade.
Step 5: Anchoring the confidence
First, simply carrying yourself AS IF you are confident, and this will change your internal state towards natural confidence. Think about someone who is very confident. Noticed how they stand, move and talk.
When you are feeling confident or successful, or have just succeeded in something, squeeze your fist, make a fist and say yes.
After you have done this on several different occasions, all you’ll need to do is simply squeeze your fist to reactivate that powerful state you have previously saved.
Practice being confident in public or private as often as possible and it will become part of you very quickly. Utilize this powerful step, as well as the others, to increase your socialization skills, increase your relationships and improve your social situation, happiness and confidence!
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