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Social Wallflower: Overcoming Your Fear Of Fraternizing

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

I recently ran into someone I know who has three beautiful children. And, while two were eager to greet me, the third slinked away in shyness, to which the mom noted that while her boy was very shy, her daughters will talk to virtually anyone and everyone.

And, there are merits to both traits (in moderation). Yet, more often than not, life calls us to be social butterflies.

From social soirees with friends and family, to daily business dealings, an inability to effectively interact with others can seriously hamper our earnings, our career, and even our friendships, as shyness or timidness may be misconstrued as “an attitude”.

In fact, according to experts, your social aptitude may mean more than your intellectual aptitude and your position in life, since while most may initially be impressed by your status, they will easily lose interest due to your character.

Remember, we all dealt with people on a daily basis and most of them form and opinion of you based on how you look, speak, and act.

Yet, many individuals are insecure and it comes across loud and clear with public speaking topping a majority of the population’s biggest fears.

So, if your one of many who struggles with social settings, rest assured that there is nothing wrong with you, and you’re not alone. And, if you’re anxious about speaking, saying the wrong thing, or drawing the wrong kind of attention, experts suggest that being the “center of attention” is less difficult and complex than you are making it out to be, and you may not even have to say a word.

Convey Interest And Approachability: The key elements here are body language and facial expression. Before you even get to say a word, others will form an opinion about you and whether or not they want to even attempt to talk to you. So, rather than sitting by yourself, with legs and hands crossed, or frequently stepping away from the crowd and perhaps out for a smoke, check yourself to make sure you’re smiling are giving off a positive vibe.

Body Basics: Hear yourself speak, even when you are saying nothing. Are you telling people you are not interested by doing your own thing, crossing your arms across your chest, “disappearing” into another room, or other body language that suggests you’re not interested? Try (instead) staying in close proximity to the crowd, even if you’re not participating in the goings on or contributing to the conversation. People will be more likely to approach you if you’re shy about approaching them.

Put On Your Best Game Face: Facial expressions are just as noticeable and important as body language. In fact, it’s one of the first things others will notice about you. Make sure you reveal a warm smile, and make eye contact, making you appear interested and approachable (see above)

Dress For Success And The Occasion: While it may seem superficial, it’s imperative to look approachable in appearance as well as in facial expression and body language. It’s important say experts that you look like someone who they WANT to talk to. Make sure that your ensemble is appropriate for the occasion. Keep it simple but “sophisticated” for outdoor events and family-only gatherings, but spruce it up a bit around holiday time, or when a variety of attendees will be present. You may even want to consult with other guests and/or the hostess to determine what they will be wearing and what is appropriate.

Accentuate The Positive: Focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses. If you’re good with children than engage yourself in helping some moms out with them so you can converse about something you are both comfortable and familiar with, and use your skills, whatever they are to make a powerful impact.

Lend Them Your Ears: Be attentive to others and be a good listener. Make sure you are actually paying attention and not just going through the motions, also make sure to smile and nod your head. This gives the person confidence to keep talking. Experts suggest also reiterating what the person is saying to show that you are actually paying attention and understanding them.

Give Back Feedback: You don’t have to say much, but perhaps just enough to keep the other person talking. You can also, a little at a time, practice interjecting politely your own thoughts and opinions, even if they are brief.

Practice Socializing: Rather than sticking with your core companions, try to “work the room” making your rounds, even if it’s just looking around and smiling at others, encouraging them to approach you.

Also, start practicing in environments where you are already comfortable. If you have a regular dining place, dress up and see if others don’t comment to you (especially if they see a change), or start by sparking conversations with the wait staff. Try going out more and calling friends and family more often and initiating a relationship and conversation. The more people you come in contact with and speak to, the more comfortable and confident you’ll get.

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