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.
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
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.
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.
Make (Appropriate) Contact
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.
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.
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.