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How to Stop Being Shy and Become a Social Champion

How to Stop Being Shy and Become a Social Champion

If you don’t have a nice circle of friends, that are fun and who also encourage you to get ahead in life, then you’re either shy about meeting and making friends, or you’re not exactly sure about how to do it. On the other hand, perhaps you’re already trying to meet new people, but you’re getting the results you want, because you’re not using the best strategies that could easily bring great people into your life.

In this article, I want to share with you how you can stop shyness from sabotaging your social life, and how to start meeting friends.

How to Stop Being Shy – Competence over Confidence

If you want to “beat” your shyness by learning to build confidence, it can take you a long time, because shyness is deeply wired into your emotions.

Instead of trying to change your shyness, I recommend that you focus on learning how to do what shyness is preventing you from doing.

Social Competence is key. The more you know about how the social world works, and how to socialize, the less discouraging mistakes you’ll make, and the more friends you’ll have.

Here are a couple of tips you can use:

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Tip #1 – How to get comfortable in a social situation

If you’re shy about going to a party, or to a social gathering, then a simple switch that can help is to go EARLY. If you do this, you’ll give yourself some time to get used to the surrounding and feel comfortable gradually before it gets crowded with people.

If you know the host, then you could offer to help out. That might allow you to be more comfortable by having something to do.

Tip #2 – What to do when people invite you, but you are nervous about accepting

Do you find yourself in the situation of declining people’s invitations, but regretting it afterwards, because you know you want to go?

What you can do in this situation, is to accept the invitation, and have a back-up plan. This allows you to leave the place if you get too nervous and can’t handle the social pressure. You can tell the person that invited you that you don’t know how long you can stay, because you’re expecting a call from someone and you may need to leave to help him or her out with something.

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This allows you to either stay if you feel comfortable, or leave, if you don’t. Either way, you win.

Tip #3 – How to clearly express your opinion, if you’re not used to it

Expressing your opinion is important, but if you’re not used to doing it, it can feel scary. One way to overcome this is to use humor. Offering ideas in a light or even silly manner is less intimidating.

The more you focus on HOW to socialize, the quicker you’ll find answers. I suggest that you stay open to new ideas when it comes to social skills like keeping conversations going, meeting people, and building your social circle.

How to Meet New People and Make Friends

When you ask the average person what they do to meet new friends, they often tell you that they leave it to chance, and that “you can’t really control these things.” However, when you look at their social life, you find that they’re not happy with the few poor friendships they have.

If the people around you aren’t fun, interesting to YOU, then you need to do something about it. If you leave it to chance, it may never change.

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Here are a couple of tips to get you started:

Tip #1 – Meet people who are already looking for friends

Instead of trying to meet people who already have too many friends in their lives, connect with people who are also looking for friends. These can be people who just came to the city (think expats events), or people who go to meetups meetup.com. Also, see if there is an internations.org group in your city.

Tip #2 – Don’t go befriending the sharks!

If you’re shy or don’t have a lot of social experience, don’t go make friends with people who are a thousand times more socially apt than you are. Instead, you can find great people who are soft spoken, introverted who would love to make friends with you.

Moreover, because you’ll be hanging out with cool, interesting, introverted people, there is no risk of embarrassment if you make a mistake. It’s ok if you make mistakes, because that’s what helps you to learn.

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Tip #3 – Learn To Get People Interested In Making Friends with You

There are certain behaviors that make some people more attractive to friends than others. It’s not just luck. There are things that these “wanted” people do that makes everyone wants to spend time with him or her… and it’s not about money, or looks…

It’s a combination of being interested in what the other person says, sharing similar stories that happened to you (or you just heard of), introducing people that you know to each other, and focusing on what value you’re giving away…

These are just some ideas to get you started…

…but if you want to really MASTER this, to a point where you have a nice circle of highly interesting and fun people, that not only are incredibly fun, but also support and listen to you, then I recommend that you start setting up your Action-Plan to meet and new friends.

The best time to start making new friends is now.

Featured photo credit: A gorgeous little girl playing peekaboo via Shutterstock

More by this author

Paul Sanders

A communication expert who tries to help people improve their social skills and make friends anywhere.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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