So you want to talk to people more easily?
Despite what you think, many people want to be able to talk to people more easily so they feel more comfortable in social situations. It is natural to feel nervous when first meeting people or trying to fit into a social group. You may struggle to feel comfortable knowing what to say.
If this is something you experience, it may be because you are shy, introverted, anxious or lacking in social skills. It may be because of a Social Anxiety Disorder, which affects approximately 14 percent of the Australian population. People with this disorder have an extreme fear of being negatively judged or evaluated by others. This can significantly disrupt their ability to function, requiring specialist treatment.
This post will focus on techniques to talk to people more easily if you’re anxious, shy, introverted, or lacking in social skills.
Many people feel anxious when they are in unfamiliar situations or meeting new people. These feelings can get in the way of initiating or contributing to a conversation. Something else that may stop the flow is a lack of social skills, which can make it difficult to approach or initiate a conversation. If you do start a conversation, you may not know how to continue or how to end it.
Shyness and Introversion
The truth is that shyness is common, affecting about 40 percent of adults (Bernardo Carducci, Director of the Shyness Research Institute). Shy people wish they could talk to people more easily and generally want to interact with others socially. Instead, they may avoid social situations to avoid feeling uncomfortable. This is different to an introvert, who prefers to be on his or her own and may have little desire to interact socially. Extroverts can also be shy, but may have learnt to be more extroverted.
You may be surprised to know that some famous celebrities consider themselves shy. Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Richard Branson and Barbara Streisand all identify as being shy. Johnny Depp once said: “I’m shy, paranoid, whatever word you want to use. I hate fame. I’ve done everything I can to avoid it.”
Let’s briefly look at the ways these things could impact on your ability to talk to people more easily.
Tips on how to talk to people more easily
• Smile and be friendly
• Say hello and use the person’s name if you know it, or ask his/her name
• Say something (anything) without rehearsing it. If you draw a blank you’re probably anxious or over-thinking
• Some ideas of what to say could be focused on the present, past or future:
– say something about the day (present)
– talk about what just happened (past)
– say something about what’s about to happen (future)
– say something about what is happening here right now (present)
– pay a compliment (present)
• Ask an open question, rather than a closed question
• Open questions allow others to open up and share something with you, rather than give a one word or a yes/no answer, whereas closed questions put you in the interviewer’s seat and generally mean you’ll have to ask more questions:
– “how was your weekend?” (open) not, “did you have a good weekend?” (closed)
– “what do you think of the weather?” (open) not, “the weather’s bad isn’t it?” (closed)
• Be interested in the person’s response. Look at the person, nod, make encouraging sounds such as, “mm,” “ok,” “right,” “really,” to show you are listening
• After the other person has finished talking, make a brief comment about the same topic, such as:
– “that seems like a great thing to do
– “that sounds like hard work
– “that’s very adventurous”
• Ask another question about the topic, such as:
– “how did you get interested in that?” (past)
– “what’s it like?” (present)
• Share something about your experience or lack of experience of the same topic:
– “I’ve never tried that. I prefer….”
– “something great I did on the weekend was…”
• Exit the conversation with simple parting words, such as:
– have a great day
– see you later
– good talking to you
Conversation is a Skill
Conversation is a social skill that takes practise. Here are some tips to talk to people more easily:
Good conversation is about good listening. To listen attentively, tune in to the other person and show an interest in whatever topic is being discussed. Be present and curious. Allow them to keep talking rather than asking a lot of questions.
Teach yourself the skill of reflective listening. This means that when there is a pause, use this to reflect back on what the person has said. An example may be, “so you first developed your interest in this at quite an early age.” Follow a reflection with an open question such as, “what was it like to come back to it after so long?”
Try to relax and be curious and interested. Switch off that voice inside your head that says, “If I’m myself they won’t like me.” Give it a go and develop your social muscle.
Contact Linda Magson, Sydney Life Coach and Counsellor for help to develop your social skills and talk to people more easily. Email Linda. Call or text: 0402 073 086.