How do you practice conversations with social anxiety? Having had conversations with 10,000+ strangers over the last decade, here’s one question I get asked a lot: “So, how do I get better at conversations?” And if you have social anxiety like Barbara and I do, things are just a tad bit more challenging… OK, much more challenging. (Let’s be honest for a sec, shall we?) On some days, talking to people can feel like this: Or this: Now, here’s the good news: You can have great conversations even if you feel anxious.
And here’s even better news… The key is NOT improving social skills. It’s improving your ability to accept anxiety and connect despite that.
You don’t have to believe me or even the research (which, by the way, says that most socially anxious people don’t have a social skills deficit — it’s the anxiety that gets in the way.) Just recall a conversation you had with a family or friend (anyone you love and trust, really). How did you talk and listen? What kind of questions did you ask? Chances are, you were a conversation rockstar because you weren’t overwhelmed by your anxiety.
Based on my experience — as well as what I’ve learned from multiple therapists — here are five ways to practice conversations with social anxiety: 1. Practice being neighbors with your anxiety A big reason why conversations feel so hard is your struggle with anxiety.
It’s not OK to have anxiety, after all… right? Isn’t it a negative emotion that you should reduce or eliminate? The thing is, the more you fight against your anxiety — the more you try to push it away — the stronger it gets. And, even if your anxiety doesn’t get worse in the process, your attention is already yanked away from the conversation. On the other hand, when you