Before we begin, I want to tell you to keep an open mind. Even though you don’t have to completely change or sell yourself to be more sociable, you should be open to new experiences.
Of course, I’m not saying you should say yes to everything. But, at least don’t go through life saying “No, that’s not who I am.”
You need to understand that people change throughout their lives
If you’ve been shy and insecure in the past, you can change and become confident and charismatic.
Shy individuals face an uphill battle. The world is awash with competition and ambition.
If you are a reserved individual and hesitate to convince others for your positive attributes, there’ll be someone else ready to take what could be yours.
Shyness just like other social difficulties can range from mild to severe.
If you’re slightly shy, you might seem totally functional and even charming. Even though you may have inner worries and insecurities.
When you’re moderately shy, you’ll be more hesitant and quiet in social situations, but still, be able to get by.
If you’re severely shy, you’ll be totally withdrawn.
Some of us weren’t shy as children
Some people were shy from an early age. And others become shy in their teens.
Did you ever notice that children from 3 to 8 are very talkative? They will happily tell you about their day, their teacher, the funny things classmates said, or what they are feeling now.
The reason is that they haven’t been discouraged by the concept of making a fool of themselves.
As they pass the age of ten, they notice people’s behaviour and the consequences (being ridiculed by the others).
They become more self-conscious. And some of them become withdrawn.
They become extremely careful about what to say because of the fear of looking bad in front of others.
How to deal with shyness
Just be yourself!
Do you hate when people tell you to just be yourself? It’s such a piece of irritating advice but it has a valid concept.
It’s irritating because they advise you to be your best self in every interaction. And this is a tough challenge, for now.
Let’s assume most of your social interactions are stressful and short.
But there probably is this old friend/cousin/family member with whom you can express yourself and feel comfortable.
He/She is a person with whom you can joke around. And you can be that interesting, energetic guy, who is fun to talk to.
As soon as you meet a stranger, you return to your usual reserved self.
You show your best self to just a few people.
The difference between your best self and usual is huge.
The reason is that when you meet strangers, you’re TOO self-conscious.
Now, here are tips that will help you shorten that difference:
– Inferiority complex
Often shy people might have thoughts like:
People think I’m uninteresting
I’ve been miserable my entire life, why would anything change
It’s not worth the effort
I’m an idiot
Now it’s easy to feel inferior when you see a confident man getting what he wants.
You need to know that super confident people might have hidden fears, worries, which dominate their thoughts when they are alone.
Here’s the truth: Most people are not better than you.
Almost everyone has insecurities and social fears. Those able to minimize and work through them, excel in social situations.
The 16 times Oscar nominated, the actor, Meryl Streep said: “I fear one day I’ll wake up to find that everyone has finally realized I’m a talentless nobody who has been fooling them all these years”.
She lives with the same self-doubt as us but her success shows she doesn’t let her negative thoughts dominate her life.
Reframe any negative thought or situation into a positive.
For example, instead of dwelling on difficulties you’re facing with social situations, think about how you’re improving by the simple act of reading this article.
Reframes from the above:
I am learning how to be super interesting.
Things will get better and better for me as long as I keep trying to improve
– Stop complaining
I’m very guilty of this one. For every problem I had, I would complain to anyone.
You can also see online where different people have given up.
And spend their entire energy complaining about their lives instead of taking action.
This behaviour can be terrible for you and the way you appear. Self-loathing is very unattractive.
There is one expression: “If you don’t love yourself, how do you expect others to love you?”
– Be Proactive
Some people believe that you can’t change their personality. That is partially true but you can change behaviours and reactions to situations.
Take the soldiers as an example. Most of the young recruits are rebellious, unfocused 18-year-olds. But after 10 weeks of basic training, they become disciplined.
This doesn’t mean you need to be young to change. There are lots of people in their forties or fifties that go back to college and learn new skills.
– Join online communities
Try to look for forums that cover topics you’re interested in and engage with other people.
Become a contributor to that site.
For example, two websites I love are Quora and Reddit.
You can share your opinion and start a conversation with other people.
Make constructive comments on telling them “great answer” or “I loved this post because…”
You can also make several posts and people will show you what they think.
Remember, you’re trying techniques for self-improvement. I’m not telling you to spend too much time and remain there.
Limit yourself to spending one or two hours there.
Self-esteem is your overall assessment of your worth as a person.
Having high self-esteem gives you strengths that will override aspects of shyness, anxiety and pessimism.
People with high self-esteem feel good about themselves and what they offer.
They are more optimistic and are more able to tolerate uncertainty, discomfort and rejection.
These positive feelings are stable, and their emotions don’t go up and down based on outside factors.
The inner critic
It means the negative inner voice which attacks and judges you. We all have an inner critic voice. But people with low self-esteem have a more vicious critic.
The critic blames you for a thing that goes wrong
It compares you to others. And it tells you that if you are not the best you are nothing.
The critic exaggerates your weakness by insisting you “always say stupid things”, or “always screw up a relationship”…
In other words, the critic takes your self-esteem and puts it through a shredder.
How to increase self-esteem:
You are okay the way you are. You’re aware of your personality traits, your strength and weakness, your success and failures.
Question the negative messages you’ve internalized about your value as a person.
A big reason people lack self-esteem is that at some point in their lives, they came to believe there was something wrong with them.
That’s because of the messages they received and took to heart when they were young.
For example, a father had a terrible temper, and the kids might think there’s something wrong with them.
Work to develop positive traits:
Your self-esteem will increase if you have some things going for you. So take time to develop your existing positive traits, or work to attain new ones.
Take on challenges and accomplish the goals you set for yourself .
You can’t help but feel confident if you’ve had some successes.
Challenging yourself also increases your feelings of self-efficacy. It means that you’ll be competent and handle what life throws at you.
How to deal with awkward silences
No matter how good you are at conversing with people you might face the awkward silence.
You might believe that this somehow “proves” you’re incompetent in social situations. But nothing could be farther from the truth.
Awkward silence occurs:
When you and your friend reached at the end of the subject and you both need to figure out what to say next.
If someone makes a thought-provoking point, then everyone might pause and reflect for a moment.
Everyone might be too tired or in a laid-back mood and decide they just want to relax for a bit.
Handling silence with ease
Silence happens. It’s all about how you react to them. If you stay comfortable, you send a message to everyone that what’s happening is normal and not awkward at all.
Don’t worry about bringing up a new subject – Give yourself a few seconds to think of something that will continue the conversation.
If not, go back to something he/she said. e.g. “So you’re saying before that you were thinking of learning how to paint?”
Be open when you have nothing to contribute – When someone brings up a topic about something you know little, it’s better to admit it.
For example, a friend is giving technical facts about the new Mercedes. Instead of trying to look smart, just say, “Actually I don’t much about this stuff but I would like to learn more…”
Some people feel good in one-on-one conversation but they feel nervous around a group of people.
When you’re interacting with a group present yourself with energy and enthusiasm. Say hi and shake everyone hands. It’s simple as that.
Don’t interrupt people while they’re talking. And most important support what they’re saying by nodding your head or saying “yes”.
You told a joke and your friends laughed. You feel great. Well, that’s my tip for you, laugh more. Be more expressive.
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes.
For example, if your friend gets upsetting news, you feel sympathetic for them and a bit sad for yourself.
How to develop and show more empathy
#1 Be fully present
Try to pay full attention to someone when he/she is speaking. It will help you better understand how that person is feeling
If you have different beliefs or opinions doesn’t mean you should criticize others.
#3 Be curious
Meeting people gives you the opportunity to learn something new or hear an interesting story. So, ask questions that will make that person talk more
Just imagine for a moment what it will be like to be in his place. How would you feel?
It exists only between people. We recognize it when the connection feels pleasant, engaged and smooth.
When the rapport is established, it makes people more creative and more efficient in deciding.
Great rapport has three elements:
Attention – As people pay attention to each other, they generate a sense of mutual interest.
Empathy- When both partners experience being experienced.
Being in sync- It’s the good feeling which comes from nonverbal language
Their spontaneous, immediate responsiveness has the look of a closely choreographed dance.
Their eyes meet, they got closer to each other and they are comfortable with silences.
At a local restaurant, there is a waitress called Laura. She has a way to match the mood and pace of her customers.
She’s quiet and discreet with the guy who sits in the dark corner having a beer.
But she’s sociable with the group of friends who are on their lunch hour.
And for the young mom with two hyperactive kids, she waits for the kids with some funny faces and jokes. Of course, she gets more tips than others.
This waitress embodies the principle that creating rapport with someone yields an interpersonal benefit.
The more two people unconsciously synchronize their movements and mannerisms during the interaction, the more positively they’ll feel about each other.
How to handle conflict
Every human will face conflict in his/her life. That’s just the way it is.
So, what can you do about it?
Step 1. Treat the other person with respect
During a disagreement with someone, we tend to be angry and disrespectful.
We try to tell him how wrong he is. And what he says makes no sense, at all.
And maybe we’re right. He is dead wrong. But does it help to calm down the situation? Of course, not.
Telling someone he is wrong will make that person stick to his argument even more.
The best way to persuade someone to your way of thinking is by being respectful.
Maintain an open body language. Uncross your arms; take slow deep breaths to calm down; lower your tone of voice.
Lowering the tone of voice is very powerful. The other person is screaming while you talk in a soft tone.
This will make him look terrible. Consequently, he will match your tone of voice.
Step 2: Listen
During a conflict, when feelings are strong, people often misunderstand each other.
You probably saw people in a hot discussion where they’re not talking about the same thing but didn’t know it.
Or, they may have been in basic agreement but didn’t realize it.
You listen to that person. You never mix into it any of your own ideas. And you never lay to that person anything he didn’t express.
To show that you truly understand, you repeat one or two things he wanted to express.
Our goal here is to the content of his idea, the meaning behind it, and the feelings he has about it.
We want to understand his point of view.
Step 3: State your views, needs and feelings
You showed respect for his feelings and his point of view. Now it is your turn to communicate your meaning to the other.
Here are some useful guidelines.
First, state your point briefly. During a tense situation is better to keep your message short and straight to the point.
Second, say what you mean and mean what you say. Often, people exaggerate things. Or they talk about one issue which is a different matter.
Here you should state the truth as it is.
Third, disclose your feelings. Someone might have accused unjustly. And you might have a lot of feelings about the subject under discussion.
And you might find it difficult to express your feelings after he has offended you. But you have to do it if the conflict is to be resolved.
Spread a Sunshine wherever you go
Try to bring a smile on the face of the people you meet. It is simple. Just think, “What is my listener thinking or feeling right now?”
And, whenever appropriate, speak from their perspective.
I was with my friend having a coffee at 6.am at a bar.
And when he was making the payment said, “I’m sorry, I’m your first customer for today and you’re stuck trying to make a change from a twenty-dollar bill. I hope it doesn’t clean you out”. “No problem,” said the waiter with a big smile on his face.
Or you’re on a vacation and you need to ask for directions. And you see a police officer.
Instead of saying, “Hey, where is this hotel?” you can say,
“I know it’s not your job but could you direct me to this hotel?”
“I bet you’re tired of people asking, but could you?..”
15 Questions to know someone
Whether you’re discussing with a friend or trying to know someone, these questions will help you:
– Do you watch videos online? For what reason?
– What type of sport do you like?
Do you play with your friends in your free time?
– What types of Movies/TV series do you like?
– Do you think energy drinks are healthy or dangerous?
– What are your favourite websites/blogs/YouTube channels?
– Do you like video games? What is your favourite?
– Do you feel safe using a card in the ATM or in a store?
– What do you think about online dating?
– What do you think about the current President/Prime minister? Is he/she doing a good job?
– What business or company you despise most?
– Has a self-book ever helped you?
– Where did you grow up?
– Do you still keep in touch with high-school friends?
– Do you have any siblings?
– What were your hobbies when you were a child?
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