Four (unconventional but highly effective) Strategies for Overcoming Social Anxiety at Gatherings
Social gatherings and networking events can be nerve-wracking experiences, especially if you struggle with social anxiety (like me).
The pressure to make a good impression, the fear of awkward silences, and the feeling of being the center of attention can all contribute to anxiety in these situations.
However, there are some simple yet effective techniques you can use to manage your anxiety and have more enjoyable experiences at social events.
In this post, I'll share four such tips that have helped me feel more confident in social situations.
1. Focus on Being Interested in Others and Asking Questions
One of the things that tend to make us anxious in social settings is having the focus put on ourselves. The easiest way to overcome this is to focus on being interested instead of interesting.
Whether it's a party or networking event, focus on asking everyone you meet questions about themselves. Show genuine interest in getting to know them and the conversation will flow naturally, making you feel more comfortable.
2. Admit to Being Anxious!
There’s no shame in admitting that you’re not comfortable at networking events or making small talk. When I admit that I am feeling nervous or that I’m an introvert, I usually hear one of two things back – that the other person is equally uncomfortable or they are an extrovert that loves networking and they end up going out of their way to make me feel more at ease. Either way, it’s a win-win and helps me connect and build rapport with the person I’m talking to.
3. Keep Your Hands Busy
When we’re feeling anxious in a social setting, it can feel awkward standing around not knowing what to do with ourselves. One easy solution to this problem is to keep your hands busy. That might look like keeping a drink in your hand or helping out your host at a party.
4. Instead of Tuning Out, Tune in More
When you have social anxiety it can be easy to get really overwhelmed during noisy, hectic gatherings and in crowded public places. It feels like sensory overload and your first instinct is to check out and withdraw.
The solution to this problem is counter-intuitive – rather than tuning everything out, intentionally tune in more using your five senses.
When you purposefully tune in to all of the sights, sounds, smells, etc in your environment, rather than feeling assaulted by everything going on, you actually feel more in control because you’re intentionally and selectively letting each sensation into your awareness.
Enjoy Your Evening!
Social anxiety can be a challenging obstacle to overcome, but with the right strategies in place, it's possible to manage and even enjoy social situations.
Whether it's focusing on others, admitting to being nervous, keeping your hands busy, or tuning in to your senses, these tips can help you feel more at ease in any social setting.
Remember that everyone experiences anxiety to some degree and that it's okay to be nervous. The key is to embrace your feelings, take action, and focus on making the most of the experience. With these tips in mind, you'll be well on your way to lessening social anxiety and building meaningful connections with others.