Tips to Help Overcome Shyness and Social Awkwardness

Feeling shy or awkward in certain situations is understandable, we have all been there. Don't we all have a little nervousness before we go talk to that guy or girl, get sweaty palms before giving a speech or before a big meeting? For some, shyness and social awkwardness may not be circumstantial, but constant. This can be frustrating and challenging to overcome, but there are things you can do to help overcome your shyness. Here are a few tips on how to feel comfortable and approach social situations.

Learn to Laugh

There's something about laughter that makes everyone feel more comfortable. It's true, this is why "ice breaker" activities are specifically designed to get the participants laughing. It helps everyone get to know each other and relax. So don't be afraid to laugh at someone's jokes, or learn a few funny lines yourself. Keep in mind this is not the time to use "pick-up" lines, but instead clever observations or comments.

Force Yourself to Stay

This is a hard for some people! Sometimes, shy people feel so uncomfortable in a social situation that they just want it to end; they just want to get away. It's easy to just leave, resist this impulse. Tell yourself to stand your ground, stay put, and interact. Remember, the other person is not going to bite or breathe fire; he or she just wants to have a conversation and get to know you. So relax, get comfortable and have some fun.

Be Comfortable with Silence

Social situations can feel especially awkward if you are uncomfortable with mutual silence. This may prompt shy people to "babble" to fill the silence, which then makes them feel even more awkward because they feel like what they're say is silly. Instead, learn to appreciate the stillness and be cool - some silence between people is okay. In fact, it helps give the other person a chance to think before he or she speaks. The person you're speaking with will appreciate this!

Stretch

Just like physical stretching, socially and psychologically stretching can be uncomfortable and maybe even painful. But, like physical stretching, it's necessary. If your first instinct is to say "No" when someone asks you to do something, stop and think first. Tell the person you will get back to him or her if you aren't sure. This will give you some time to pluck up your courage and say "Yes."

When to Seek a Professional

There is a point when simple shyness and social awkwardness may be an actual disorder. Social anxiety disorder and social phobia are real disorders that may need the help of a professional. The difference between shyness and these disorders is how much it affects your life.

For example, if you are so shy and embarrassed by just the thought of having to introduce yourself to others or attend a party that you go to great lengths to avoid the situation, it might be a social disorder. When it's social anxiety or phobia, you have trouble living a normal and productive life due to your social fears. If you think you have an actual disorder it's ok to seek professional help.

About the Author Cheri Toftdahl

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