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Ten Tips For Shy People To Meet Friends

Ten Tips For Shy People To Meet Friends

It can be hard work for shy people to meet friends. Shyness is a combination of genetics and upbringing and in its most severe form, it is referred to as a social phobia or social anxiety. Shy people tend to analyze more and their thinking style can hinder their progress. Here are ten top tips for reducing shyness and introducing more sociability into your life.

1. Visualise a Positive Outcome

Often, shy people are more afraid of the anticipation of meeting new friends than the event itself. Our thoughts can frighten us more than the reality and imagining making a fool of ourselves, being criticized or being rejected, make many of us fear social situations. Instead of imagining the worst,think of yourself going into a public place or a social event and see it going smoothly. Visualize yourself chatting easily to new friends and imagine the conversation flowing. This process of visualizing before the event is known as “priming.” Repetition allows the brain to process events quicker and when socializing, the experience will seem more familiar if you have visualized the event positively beforehand.

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2. Engage in Positive Self Talk

Be aware of negative self talk. Shy people tend to have more negative inner chatter than average. If you catch yourself saying something like “I am shy and no good in social settings. I always make a fool of myself” make sure that you challenge this. It is only a thought, NOT a fact. Ask yourself if your negative thought is really true.  More often than not you will be able to think of an example of a time when you felt less shy and coped well. Instead of negative self talk, replace it with something like: “I may feel shy and out of my comfort zone but I will handle it. I will deal with whatever comes my way.”

3. Get out of your comfort zone regularly

The only way to grow in confidence is to face your fears. The more you listen to your negative self talk and avoid social situations, the more the thoughts grow and take on a life of their own. Challenge this thinking, not only by replacing negative thoughts with more positive thoughts but also by confronting what you fear with action. Go out more in an attempt to confront your shyness. Take baby steps initially and perhaps meet a friend on a one-to-one basis. Gradually increase the amount of socializing and in this way, you will reduce your shyness. Join the gym, find a hobby that you enjoy, try internet dating or join a sports club. All of these activities will increase your social network. The more you have in common with the people around you, the easier it will be to interact and have conversations.

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4. Be inquisitive – people love to talk about themselves

Charismatic people tend to be those personality types that make others feel good about themselves. They are positive, open and are genuinely interested in those around them. When you are stuck for conversation, ask someone about themselves. Ask them questions to keep the conversation going. A few pauses in conversation is fine too. Try not to feel that all the pressure is on you to keep the conversation going either.

5. Focus on the person you are talking to

The reason for focusing on the person you are talking to is to take the focus off yourself. When we are shy and self conscious, we tend to worry about how we look and how we are presenting ourselves. When you place your attention on the other person, you automatically relax. Look at their body language, look our for signs that they might be shy or nervous too. This is a good trick and helps you to hone your social skills by focusing on the body language of others. The better you get at reading others, the more your confidence will grow.

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6. Take small steps initially

There is no need to rush ahead and start public speaking. Instead, take it slow and start small. If you jump ahead too quickly you might ‘bite off more than you can chew’ and this could backfire and result in you losing confidence. If you’re very shy, perhaps even going along to a public lecture would be a good start. This way, you are not forced to interact with anyone but you will be experiencing a social environment which will be useful in building confidence. Afterwards, progress to meeting someone for a coffee. If that goes well – progress to lunch and then dinner. Test your limits in phases and give yourself a pat on the back every time you socialize.

7. Be open and approachable

I like to call this being in “shop open” mode. By this I mean, if you had to think about walking past a row of shops – some with their windows and doors open and others with the shutters down. You would be more likely to completely ignore the shops that seemed closed and pay attention to the shops that seemed open and inviting. This reaction is similar to the social world as well.  People are drawn to others who seem welcoming and approachable. Think about the body language you are giving off in social settings. “Shop open” mode includes behaviors like: smiling, making eye contact, standing up straight and looking happy to converse. Often shy people tend to exhibit “closed shop” behavior without realizing it (ie. not making eye contact, hunched body language and so on). People then tend to ignore the shy person and this reinforces the shy person’s view of themselves. Hence a self fulfilling prophecy (refer back to point 2).

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8. Remind yourself regularly of your strengths

What are you good at? The harder it is for you to answer this question the more you need to think about it. People with higher self esteem tend to find this question easier to answer. Make a list and look at it every day if you have to. Focus on your strengths and minimie your weaknesses. It pays to adopt this attitude. Shy people tend to feel very self conscious when meeting new people and concentrating on your good points will help you to feel more confident and self assured.

9. Make a list of general topics of conversation

If you worry a lot about what to talk about when you’re out socializing, make a list of possible conversation topics. There’s always the safe subjects like the weather or current items on the news. Other good topics include – favorite movies, music and travel destinations. Ask about people’s hobbies and what they like to do to relax. Most people have a lot to say on this topic.

10. Worry less about what others think

I have left this point last as it is one of the most important aspects of fighting shyness. The more we worry about what others think, the more likely we are to be inhibited. If you live your life according to what others think, you are living your life for them instead of yourself. Remember that it is your life, you have to live with the consequences of your decisions and actions. The people who judge you don’t have to deal with the consequences. One of my favorite sayings is by Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Everyone is entitled to their opinion but don’t allow their opinion to be more important than your own.

Being shy is not necessarily a negative trait but it can be debilitating if left to grow without confronting it. We all need friends that we can connect with. Connecting with others is one of the most satisfying experiences we can have…and it’s free!

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Mandy Kloppers

Mandy is a Psychologist/CBT therapist who believes getting through life is easier with a robust sense of humour.

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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