Social Anxiety- How to Start a Conversation

What will I talk about? What will I say? What if they think I’m boring? What if they don’t like me?…..

All of this is fear, created in your own mind, by you! Shyness may have gotten you into the habit of always waiting for the other person to start a conversation. But what if they are shy too?

So, bear in mind these following tips and you’ll soon become a great conversation starter:

  1. Smile and the world smiles with you! Research shows that people are more likely to want to talk to you if you are smiling. And, don’t forget good eye contact with the other person. The added benefit of smiling is that this sends a signal to your body to relax.
  2. Remember, having a conversation is a mutual experience. It is not all down to you! So you are not in this alone, there are two brains providing input. It is a case of what are we going to talk about, not what am I going to say. Be curious about what they are going to talk about.
  3. Show interest in the other person. Ask some open questions so they can elaborate. (research shows that people find interested people interesting –people like to talk about themselves!)

Start by asking them about themselves related to the situation you’re in. For example if you are at Tina’s party, you could ask “So how do you know Tina?”.  This could then open up a conversation.

  1. Keep the conversation going by asking open questions that require more than a yes/no answer. Be gentle in questioning, keep it light and not too personal, it should not be an interrogation!
  2. Self-edit. When you’re talking, leave out the minutiae as this can get boring. So edit, don’t bore with detail. Ask yourself, what does this person need to know to get my message/story/opinion across?
  3. Use humour. If you find something funny/ironic, then comment on it. Laughing together builds a sense of intimacy and releases feel good hormones that help you both to relax.
  4. Don’t rely on alcohol. A first drink or two may help you relax, but remember that beyond a certain point, more alcohol will not make you more socially adept, it is quite the reverse!
  5. Don’t take it personally. If after you’ve attempted to get a conversation going, the other person really doesn’t seem to want to talk, don’t take it personally. Maybe they’re having a bad day or perhaps they need to learn a few conversation skills themselves! Move on.
  6. Get your conversation starter mind-set. To have the confidence to start conversations, it is a good idea to train your brain before hand. Use self- hypnosis to visualise and so instil the pattern in your mind of yourself being calm, relaxed and friendly.

Also use your body language. Stand tall, walk into a room or situation with your shoulders down, your head up and use eye contact with people and smile. Take a few long slow deep breaths in and out before entering the room or situation and tell yourself in your mind, “I am calm and relaxed, I’m here to have a great time”

  • The more you relax with starting conversations, the more self-confident you will be generally. A simple starter with a complete stranger can be:

“Hi I’m (name), nice to meet you…and you are?” Followed by a simple comment upon the situation you are in and a few gentle questions about the other person.

“Strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet”

During the Covd19 lockdown, I will be running remote sessions over Zoom only. When restrictions ease, in person sessions at my office will resume, in addition to Zoom sessions.

Thank you.

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