How to Feel Confident in Social Situations
Thursday, May 14 2015 Emily Roberts MA, LPC
It can be hard to feel confident in social situations. In fact, when most people anticipate social situations it can bring up a little anxiety. Guess what, this is normal. The feelings of anxiety and excitement actually changes your brain chemistry. A surge of dopamine and adrenaline are released when you anticipate an event that could be fun or fearful. If you recognize this is a biological sensation that almost everyone experiences it can help you feel more confident about the upcoming social situation.
You may be thinking, "this is great but what if I'm in the situation and don't feel confident?" If you’re faced with a slew of uncomfortable emotions or find yourself in a new situation feeling anxious or insecure, it's okay. Learning to feel confident in social situations can take time. You have to practice and over time it gets so much easier. Here are the best tips to enhance your inner and outer confidence in social situations.
5 Tips to Feel Confident in Any Social Situation
Acting confident can actually lead to feeling confident in many situations. Here are 5 tips that work for me.
- Let your body do the talking. Nonverbal communication such as body language and facial expressions can be just as important as your words. Your posture is key. Slouching and looking at the ground makes you appear to be uninterested or shy, which makes it hard for others to approach you. In disagreements, it can make you seem like a pushover (as if, literally, someone could push you over). Standing up straight reflects confidence. You can remember to do this by pushing your shoulders back and looking in a window or mirror from time to time to catch yourself.
- Be mindful of your tone of voice. A friendly or gentle tone of voice is helpful in any kind of communication, especially an uncomfortable one. When you are mindful of how you say things, you will feel more confident. You make others feel at ease if your voice is calm and/or friendly. Stay away from sarcasm, it can confuse others and make you feel extra insecure if they don't get it. Try to speak clearly, not louder, just slower, if you want others to hear you, and be careful not to sound aggressive. The best tip I've ever received is practice talking about something in a mirror and watch how you say it and how you interpret your tone of voice.
- Be a good listener. How you listen is just as important as what you say. Put down your phone, take out your ear buds, and try to focus on what is being said. Look directly at the person who’s talking to you. Communicate respect with your facial expressions. That doesn't mean you stare at them the entire time, talk about uncomfortable, but maintain eye contact from time to time. If someone is talking about their rough day or is trying to vent don't respond with one upping them. "Oh your day was bad, listen to what happened to me." If you want to change the conversation to focus on you, validate them first. "I'm sorry that sucks. What did you do?" Is a much better response and allows them to feel like you care.
- Take a reality check. If you find your mind going to the opposite of confident thinking, stop and check the facts. A client did this with success and recently she said, "When I was worried what my new friends would think of me for showing up to a party I was invited to, I remembered that they invited me so they obviously want me there." She was able to see the truth, her friends probably wanted her there; her anxious thoughts tried to make her feel insecure rather than feel confident about the social situation.
- Smile. If you aren't happy, don’t try to fake it, but smiling generally lightens your mood and makes other people respond more positively to you. Research shows that if you smile while you are on the phone with customer service, or frustrating people, they respond better to your requests. Just seeing a friendly face makes you more approachable and leads others to view you as more confident. This also can make you feel more confident because smiling triggers happy emotions.
So try to approach the social situations you encounter with these tips. You will feel confident and others will see you this way too.
Emily is the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are.You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.