Are you really going to do that again?
Do you really need to look at your cell phone, one more time?
The “half-pull” where you pull your phone out of your pocket just enough to check the time— how many times do you have to check your phone before you are able to guess how many minutes have passed?
The feeling of isolation in a crowded room, avoiding eye contact, silently shuffling your feet to find the perfect spot so you won’t be noticed or looked at.
That was me.
I avoided interaction.
I was comfortable within my own thoughts.
But that “was” me. That’s the person I WAS.
The other day I was sent a message from a friend:
“Hi Frank. This is kind of a weird thing to ask you, but do you have any tips for social anxiety/confidence? I have this event this week with a group of friends where I’m kind of “known” as the shy person, but I really want to change that. I have become so aware of my every move and worried that people will think I’m weird, so I just don’t say anything at all or reach out to get to know anyone else! Any tips? Thanks in advance!”
And so I thought long and hard, and remembered how I had once changed. How I had turned myself from a shy, in the corner, student — to someone who forced myself to make friends and network.
Hi! So, I live by a motto — It is
“What other people think of you, is none of your business.”
A quote ingrained in me by a critical mentor in my life (you know who you are). Truly one of the best teachers I know. In essence you should live the life you want and you should act in whatever way you feel is appropriate — you should not be looking for external criticism or validation.
Some of the most prominent people in the world only appease half of their audience, so stop aiming to please everyone and stop worrying what others think!
AND IF YOU ARE WORRIED ABOUT RUNNING FOR OFFICE IN THE FUTURE — IT WON’T MATTER WHAT YOU SAY, JUST LOOK AT OUR CURRENT PRESIDENT.
The best way to really help with social anxiety — in my opinion, is to go sign up for a stand-up comedy class or public speaking class like Toast Masters. I know this sounds super intimidating but the classes are filled with other people who all feel the same way you do! They are self-conscious, they are worried about what others think, they get nervous in front of crowds — but that is why these classes are perfect.
You realize, real fast, that everyone is just like you.
And after consistent practice, after many weeks, after everyone in the class consistently fails together, you start to improve and get more comfortable.
Anxiety often comes from fear of failure or the fear of the unknown.
Practicing and rehearsing takes out the “Unknown” aspect. And forcing yourself to do a class consistently, takes away the fear of failure because you realize that you can actually do it!
…but your event is this week
Now I know you said your event is this week, so you obviously do not have time for these classes. Instead go to the event with the commitment that you are going to be different — you need to give yourself a new task and force yourself to engage, be extroverted, and step out of your comfort zone.
What worked for me?
Before events, I would take out a piece of paper and write down: “Today I am going to force myself to meet and get to know THREE new people” Then I would write down the numbers 1, 2, 3, with space in-between, and I would write: Name, what I learned, what makes them happy, where did they grow up, etc … I would leave the piece of paper on my desk, in clear view.
Then at the event, I would make myself meet THREE new people and get those questions answered, forcing me to listen to them, hear their answers and engage with them! When I got home I would come back to my desk and immediately write down all of the answers I got.
Although simple, that piece of paper served as a physical reminder of the new connections I made and the steps I had taken in becoming more outgoing!
Writing the outline ahead of time and preparing myself mentally forced me to follow through.
I knew that if I came home NOT having accomplished my goal of meeting three new people, I would see that blank paper on my desk knowing I lied to myself and I didn’t follow through with a commitment I made to myself.
So I hope that answers the question! I hope that will help someone become more outgoing or improve their networking skills.
Small audience or big, I write because I love it. If I can even help one person, I know it was worth it.