Do you worry about going to social events where you don’t know anyone else who might be there? Do you find yourself making excuses not to go? Do you often manage to convince yourself that you’ll go next time when you’re in the right frame of mind? You’re not alone. Social anxiety can happen to any of us – even the most extroverted person occasionally finds herself in a situation that doesn’t feel comfortable. Fear of being judged is a common affliction that most of us face at one time or another, but it’s important not to let it stop us from seeking new connections. Having a concrete game plan can make all of the difference.
A novel and effective approach is to think of yourself as the host of the event. Of course this doesn’t mean that you should actually tell people that you’re in charge – it could obviously cause some real problems and awkward misunderstandings. What I’m suggesting is that you think of how you would treat guests in your home and act accordingly. For instance, if you saw someone standing off by themselves in your living room, what would be your reaction? Would you pull out your smartphone and check your email? Would you pretend that you didn’t see them and turn to admire the wallcoverings? Would you continue talking to someone else and avoid making eye contact? Of course, you wouldn’t!
What might a good host do? She would take the initiative to greet people first. She would welcome each new person with a smile and outstretched hand. She might inquire as to how they arrived and whether they had any difficulty with traffic. She might comment on a distinctive piece of clothing or jewelry the guest had on.
Social anxiety is often triggered by uncertainty about what to expect in a room full of strangers. The solution can be as simple as deciding that you are responsible for making the first move when you spot anyone on their own. When you’re looking to make sure everyone is included, you automatically ensure that you are as well. By putting the spotlight on others, you’ll feel more relaxed and at ease. The next time you worry about not knowing anyone at a gathering, try this simple trick of thinking of how to make others feel welcome and included and you’ll find that you feel the same way.
Author: Maria Lassila
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