Some people gallop into a cocktail party or social gathering. Greet complete strangers like they are lifelong friends. Drink heartily. Nibble edibles with verve. Toast every passing moment. Now you, on the other hand, are from a different lot. In fact, the mere sight of anything in your mailbox remotely resembling an invitation and your inner wimp is ready to jump out of his or her skin. Why do you feel so overwhelmed with a kaleidoscope of emotions? Whether you are an introvert, extrovert or fall somewhere in between; most of us know that the social aspect of life is an important component for happiness and health.
Assuming you are not one of the some 15 million American adults who have social anxiety disorder, which according to the Anxiety and Depression Association can “wreak havoc on the lives of those who suffer from it,” anxiety is a natural human reaction and is a normal part of life, especially when having to deal with a social situation. Blame it on our body’s automatic fight or flight response, and realize, first and foremost, it’s part of our makeup. In the adult world, we should be able to control our irrational responses and not react to our most primitive parts of our brain that are programmed to scare us silly into believing things like social gatherings are on the life-threatening danger list. In addition, no matter how shy, nervous or anxious you feel, baling out of social commitments will likely feed your inner wimp and magnify your fear. So take charge of your life and knock the beast down to size. These eight practical tips should help you get your inner wimp dressed and ready to party hardy.
1. Dress to impress
You may not feel the part, but you can look the part. If you need to buy a new dress or new suit, it’s worth the price tag. Confidence is feeling good about the way you look and that can make you feel good about yourself. “First impressions really start with us. How we dress and look affects our psyche, our thought process, and our self-confidence. The opposite is true when we just don’t feel right about how we’re dressed,” writes Diana Jennings, the founder of Brand You Image – a personal branding and image management company based in Southern California, on her website.
2. De-stress your mind
You are feeding your inner wimp if you isolate with your borderline crazy thoughts and worry about the upcoming occasion. Talk to a friend—make sure he or she is a positive, preferably humorous, influence in your life, prior to the event. This not only provides emotional distraction, it gets you prepped and in a sociable frame of mind.
3. Smile and the world smiles with you
4. Stand up and be noticed!
Mom knew best: Shoulders back, chest forward. Nothing talks about you more than non-verbal body language. Be mindful of your hands; something as innocent as resting your hands on your hips can appear aggressive or impatient.
5. “Read any good books lately?”
If you run out of things to say, have a “cheat sheet” of questions in your mind. After all, you can bet everyone has one favorite topic that they like to discuss on their minds at all times—themselves!
6. How to break the ice?
Eyes have it. Find one person who shares eye contact with you. Jumpstart a conversation and continue to engage in eye contact. After you finish the conversation, find your next pair of eyes!
In fact, Quantified Impressions, a communication-analytics company in Austin, Texas, has done some pretty interesting research on the subject.
“So what is the ideal usage of eye contact? We turned to our communications analytics database and found that adults make eye contact between 30% and 60% of the time in an average conversation. However, to make an emotional connection, the ideal amount of eye contact is between 60% and 70%,” Noah Zandan, CEO/Co-Founder of the company notes.
7. Take heart, there is always an exit door
Realize you have a choice to leave at any time. Always be graceful and tactful—don’t want to nix your chances for a future invitation!.Remember social gatherings have one thing in mind: fun! Even if you have to “pretend” to enjoy yourself, do it! You might just end up staying longer than you planned.