Tips for Social Anxiety

Living in a digital world definitely has its pros and cons. Studies show people prefer texting to calling these days and people are leaning more towards online dating than going out to meet people. Many of us have been working from our homes and now are having to return to the office.

Social anxiety has been on the rise, and this can make it difficult for us to create bonds with others. Social anxiety can leave us feeling lonely and insecure.

Here are some tips on how to slowly become more comfortable talking to other people.

Just Say Hi. 
Social Anxiety

Start small. Get used to speaking to strangers in a safe and comfortable environment. If saying hello is too much, then start with a head nod or a smile. Go to your favorite store and try saying hi, smiling or nodding as you feel comfortable passing people by. You do not have to stop or try and start a conversation. People running errands may not want to do that anyway. Some people may ignore you, but most people will reciprocate or copy your gesture. This small step can give us just a bit more confidence. 

Once you are comfortable just saying hi, step it up a notch with compliments.

Keep them genuine and, again, do not try to stop anyone and chat just yet. We should typically be in social settings for this. As you are passing by, notice if you like someone’s shoes, nails, tattoo etc. and just give a quick compliment before returning to what you were doing. Again, some people may ignore you and that is ok. Some people may be flattered, smile and express gratitude. These are the moments that help us feel more connected to others in our environment. 

Attend a social setting with no expectations. 

So many people go to a bar, for example specifically to pick up a date. Some people attend classes or functions just to make friends. Go into a social setting with no expectations and your only intention to practice socializing and getting to know people – all people. Speak to men, women, couples, and just start a small conversation. Once the conversation seems to be heading towards an end, no matter how quickly this might be just thank them for their time and move on to somewhere else, or continue doing what you were doing before you initiated the conversation. 

Remember, not everyone is the same. Some people do not like to chat, are not interested in conversing or might struggle with social anxiety just like you! This is not a reflection of yourself. If someone does not reciprocate your initiation to chat, just move along. Reflect before you initiate a conversation, whether this is the appropriate space to do so and then just say hi. Putting ourselves out there can be hard, but it can also be the beginning of a meaningful relationship or at least good practice getting comfortable with ourselves and our ability to communicate with others. 


About Shelton Piland: 

Shelton is a Resident in Clinical Social Work and provides services at our Fredericksburg location. She graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a B.A. in Sociology. She received her Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University. Throughout her time at VCU she has worked with elementary, middle school, and high school students in the Spotsylvania Public School system. To learn more about Shelton, visit here.

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