By Laurence Mason

In moderation embarrassment is useful; it is what stops us (most of us) from running naked in the street or hitting some questionable dance moves. It is a learned response, but can sometimes be misplaced. Should you be embarrassed by normal dance moves, or being unexpectedly thrown into conversation, you might already be aware of it.

Are you doomed to crippling anxiety in social settings forever? Or lying awake at night stressing over why you simply can’t enjoy a night out? Read on…

Social embarrassment is a normal emotion which has become amplified. In social situations it can be nurtured into a endless cycle that’s difficult to break out of. Extreme self consciousness puts you into the circle, and the stress that follows cements you in, making you even more self conscious for the next social encounter.

To learn a different response to these situations is one way to tackle the problem. If you feel self conscious, it will help to try and direct a conversation towards the other person. Ask intuitive questions, not those which require a yes or no answer such as: “Do you enjoy pop music?” but instead: “Do you prefer James Blunt or Britney Spears?”

Conversation is surprisingly difficult, and because of the effort required to ask the right questions, you’ll feel very good about yourself when this happens. (and it will happen, trust me). What is certain is that when you begin to ask the correct questions you will simply know. Humans are adept at picking up subtle gestures and nuances. With practise the art of conversation will put you at ease and break the circle of social anxiety.

Always smile, and avoid using bad language wherever possible. Even if you force yourself at first, you can’t help feeling good about it after a while. It is also surprising how many people smile back. Those that do will perceive you as friendlier and more open. Dress as your best and, go to town on the accessories. Aftershave or perfume, make up (ladies mostly) and at least a clean face for men. Chew freshmint gum.

Practise a few starting points for conversation at home. And try to extrapolate a few responses which leave you open for variation. You won’t be able to cover every eventuality, but knowing that you are flexible removes the feeling of doubt that comes with conversation. Compliments go a long way; and even if they don’t, rest assured that the sort of people who won’t take compliments are probably not worth talking to anyway.

99% of confidence is acting. Nobody need every know your secret if you’re not trembling at the knees. Practise in front of a mirror with your charisma and gestures. The more you practise some new ideas, the more natural your behaviour will seem to come. Crucially, once you reach a certain stage your real confident self will shine through. And you really will have changed yourself as a person.

At the beginning it’s unlikely that very single chance encounter will be successful. Learn to see the positives in every situation. My art teacher at school would always say that there is no such thing as a bad painting. From each one you can learn and move on; improve for next time. Every social encounter will teach something new. Things that work, improve on and elaborate. Maybe tell some more sophisticated jokes. Visualise yourself with your friends laughing with you and having a great time. Try and re-live the moment where your worries melted away in the punchline of a joke.

Article Source: