I recently took my friend, Jim, to a social function. There were about a hundred people milling about. It was a Book Fair. There were writers in attendance and people who love reading and discussing books generally.
I conversed with many people but Jim just tagged along not saying more than one or two words!
Then we sat down for lunch at a table with eight people. We were all chatting but Jim was mute! I asked him afterward what was wrong? Didn’t he enjoy the Book Fair?
It all came out, he told me about his shyness and social anxiety. I had to help him.
“I find it difficult to contribute to the conversation,” said Jim.
“Well, Jim, you need some social confidence so you will be fulfilled in your life.”
“How do I get that?” he said quizzically.
“First, you have to Know Yourself. You must know who you are so you can have the courage to live, speak and act with confidence. It’s an evolutionary process, you are constantly in a state of “becoming.”
“How do I start knowing myself?”
“Well, my friend, you have to know the ropes in order to pull the strings. Here are the ropes:
Pay attention to yourself in your present moments. Be aware of what you say and do and how you interact with others.”
“I can do that, I guess.”
“Good, then you will learn about your personality. Also, try to understand your unique qualities and traits.”
“I know some of those,” he said.
“Next, know your strengths and weaknesses. Accept yourself and try to improve. Grow everyday and learn more about your passions, what you enjoy doing.”
“I still get scared when I’m in a large group.”
“You can conquer your fear and use it to motivate yourself to do what you want to accomplish. Act in the face of fear.”
“Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb because that’s where the fruit is.”
“I find I usually have to think twice before I speak consequently I don’t get into the conversation!”
“People will think you’re an intelligent talker if you just nod your head in agreement with what they are saying. That’s my little joke, just to lighten the situation,” I said smiling.
“I tend to go into a shell when I’m with people.”
“You have to be bold and strong forces will come to your aid!”
“How do I develop these skills?”
“Introduce yourself at social gatherings and talk about what you’re interested in, your passions.”
Jim looked apprehensive.
“Make eye contact, show interest in others. It’s a two way street, you talk and then you listen. Ask questions.”
“What kind of questions?”
“Open-ended ones that require more than a one or two word answer. Such as: What do you think about…or How did you get into that line of work?”
“I think I’m getting your drift,” said Jim.
A week later I took Jim to another function. He was completely transformed. He was constantly talking to everyone on the table. I sat there gobsmacked!
“Dave, what’s wrong, you’re not talking!
I shook my head.
“You’ve got a glazed look in your eyes,” said Jim.
“Yes I have, that’s what happens when the conversation wanders away from me!”