x

Science

5 Steps to Feel Less Awkward in Any Situation

You’re likely to attend a social event in the near future – say, a wedding, a conference, or even a Zoom meeting with your coworkers. Sure, you may be a person who thrives on interpersonal interaction, but let’s face it – not everyone is a social butterfly. The isolation during the pandemic has made all of us a little more socially awkward.

If you struggle in a social setting, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. “Social anxiety is a common and potentially debilitating anxiety that we all experience,” says Romeo Vitelli Ph.D., a psychologist and consultant for Mom Loves Best. And it’s not limited; it can involve just about any social situation where we interact with other people, Vitelli says.

If you’ve ever come up against social anxiety, you may have felt anything from mild discomfort to debilitating angst. The good news? It’s possible to overcome your insecurities. Here, experts share tips for feeling less awkward in any situation.

Practice to Reduce Anxiety

In public speaking situations, practice is essential, says Vitelli. “It’s important to replicate the actual public speaking setting as much as possible, such as speaking in front of a small audience of supporters,” he says. Doing this will create positive memories to override thoughts from previous bad experiences.

Practicing in this way helps in many other social situations, too. Encouraging constructive criticism from your audience will provide you with valuable tips about things you can change about yourself to make any social situation easier, says Vitelli.

If you can’t conjure an audience, try videotaping yourself, Vitelli suggests. But don’t practice to the point where you feel paralyzed when the real thing happens. Instead, he says to acquire enough practice to make the actual social situation easier.

If you normally feel anxious before any big social event, try a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) technique called coping ahead, says Michelle Dunn, LPC, a mental health counselor at Michelle Dunn Counseling in Denver, CO.

First, imagine yourself in the specific situation you’re feeling anxiety about, says Dunn. Then, identify coping skills that you can use. Finally, practice guiding imagery. “Imagine introducing yourself to new people, things you’ll say, and how you’ll cope, such as practicing deep breathing,” Dunn says. Repeating this process until the event arrives will make you feel way less awkward.

Arrive Early

If you’re introverted, walking into a crowded room by yourself can exacerbate feelings of awkwardness. That’s why being on time or arriving early can help lessen anxiety going into these situations, says Dunn. It may be easier to initiate a conversation with fewer people in the room.

According to Vitelli, talking to people early on at an event can give you the confidence to interact further as more people arrive. He suggests offering to help the host set up beforehand.

“This provides you with something to do to help with the butterflies in your stomach. It also allows you more time to prepare and gives you an opportunity to greet new guests as they arrive,” Vitelli says.

Make (Appropriate) Contact

When it comes to physical contact, be aware of the social climate around you – it can help determine what is appropriate, says Dunn. For example, what do you see other people doing? Are they shaking hands or perhaps hugging? Follow their lead.

Give a pleasant greeting of ‘hello’ with no physical contact when in doubt. Reading the interpersonal cues of the person you are talking to can help you determine what is appropriate, says Dunn.

Keep in mind that boundaries always exist, but they can vary widely depending on the setting and social culture, says Vitelli. “A good rule is not to engage in any social touching without the express permission of the other person. If you’re really unsure, look to the other people in the room and try to pick out some models to follow,” he says.

Be Pleasant

Always treat others as you would like them to treat you in return, says Vitelli. Give compliments, but make sure they’re sincere ones -you don’t want to seem too ingratiating. “Even if you are feeling awkward, try not to show it too much and work through your anxiety by enjoying the setting as much as possible,” Vitelli says.

It’s important to express interest in other people without asking awkward questions, says Vitelli. That means avoiding controversial topics such as politics or religion. “You’re there to socialize, not debate,” Vitelli says.

Pay attention to your body language – it’s crucial. If you are standing with your arms crossed over your chest, and your body appears tight and closed-off, people probably won’t want to engage in conversation with you, says Dunn. Simply smiling and having open body language can make people feel comfortable in your presence.

Team Up With a Social Pal

Dunn, a self-proclaimed introvert, says that pairing up with a more extroverted colleague helped her feel more comfortable during required corporate training sessions. “It made it less awkward and easier to engage in conversations,” she says.

Before you enter a social situation, it helps to equip yourself with an arsenal of ‘getting-to-know-you’ questions, says Dunn. For example, ‘What do you do for work? Can you tell me more about it? Do you enjoy it? What do you like to do for fun?’ “Finding a common interest can help break the uncomfortable silence and engage in conversation about that specific thing,” says Dunn.

While pairing up with a more social friend can work to some extent, make sure that friend doesn’t overshadow you or become a safety net, says Vitelli. “Don’t stick to your friend’s side at all times. Instead, allow them to introduce you to two or three new people who you can interact with on your own. You still need to do the work to become more social,” Vitelli says.

 

RELATED

LONDON (AP) — Whales sing loud enough that their songs travel through the ocean, but knowing the mechanics behind that has been a mystery.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

Fire Breaks Out at Apartment Building Near the Offices of TNH (Vid & Pics)

LONG ISLAND CITY, NY – A fire broke out in an apartment building about a block from the offices of The National Herald in Long Island City on February 21.

NEW YORK - Charles H. Dallara, the former Managing Director of the Institute of International Finance (IIF) and a central figure in the 2012 restructuring of Greece's debt, has penned what Nick Gage describes as a "riveting narrative" of those tumultuous times.

CULVER CITY, Calif — President Joe Biden said Wednesday that while a college degree was still a ticket to a better life, that ticket is often too expensive, as he announced he was canceling federal student loans for nearly 153,000 borrowers.

XINJIANG  - Chinese police are investigating an unauthorized and highly unusual online dump of documents from a private security contractor linked to the nation's top policing agency and other parts of its government — a trove that catalogs apparent hacking activity and tools to spy on both Chinese and foreigners.

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump's legendary ability to raise massive sums of political cash may be on a collision course with a new and unpleasant reality.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.