Get Better at Your Social Skills with These 4 Simple Tips

Being socially anxious can make it more difficult for you to communicate your thoughts and opinions more openly, but the good news is that there are ways that you can be more assertive and express yourself in a more honest and respectful way.

With assertive communication, you not only allow yourself to relate to others more genuinely, but it also gives you more confidence in meeting other people and living your own life.

Here are a few simple tips to get you started on your social skills:

1. Start small.
If you find yourself in an open area, you can practice your conversational skills with just one person you don’t know.

You can do this simply by saying “thank you” to the clerk at the grocery store or the waiter in the restaurant when he/she takes your order, which is crucial if you’re not good with spending a lot of time in large crowds.

2. Maintain eye contact the right way.
A lot of people have trouble maintaining eye contact during conversation. While some don’t look other people in the eyes at all, others hold it for too long and come off as unintentionally creepy.

The trick is to get yourself used to looking at people in the eye, and you can do this by practicing in the mirror by staring at yourself.

While you may feel uncomfortable and weird at first, try to keep your gaze with your own reflection in the mirror. The discomfort is part of the exercise, and doing this lets you familiarize yourself with the subtle signs that other people are uncomfortable.

3. Keep your questions open-ended.
To start a conversation, you want something that will start more than a “yes” or a “no” – you want to encourage others to engage in the question and have something interesting, instead of you simply trying to make chit-chat with no results.

A great conversational starter is anything outside a “yes-no” question, and by opening the door for others, you allow them to bring their own thoughts to the table and engage.

4. Record yourself talking to yourself.
Mirror-work is perhaps the best way to get you started on picking up certain cues and improving your conversation.
Start by sitting down in front of your laptop, smartphone, or your camera, and hit record, then start talking as if you’re engaged in a conversation with someone else. Do so for at least five minutes before stopping.

Once you’re done, stop, and play back the video. Carefully observe yourself and try to watch despite the initial discomfort, and look for certain tics and subconscious gestures that make you more self-conscious. By identifying them and being aware of them, you can change them.

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