How to Improve Social Skills When You Have SAD

Tips to Improve Your Social Skills

Man juggling balls
Social skills can make it easier to navigate social situations.. Getty / Eric Raptosh

Social skills are the building blocks of social interaction. If you suffer with social anxiety disorder (SAD), you may have missed out on developing some of these important skills. Don't fret! You can always learn these skills no matter what your age. Below are some key areas to focus on to quickly get up to speed.

Party Anxiety

Have you been invited to a party? Should you arrive early or late? Who will talk with you?

What if you don't know anyone? Slow down, and breathe. Parties can be a lot of fun; you just need the right skills to give you confidence. Here are 10 steps to having a blast at the next big shin-dig.

Eye Contact

If your eyes are the windows to your soul, what are they telling everyone about you? That you are too afraid to look up? Most people with social anxiety have trouble looking others directly in the eye. You might look at ground, your feet, the door—whatever helps you to escape. Even if eye contact gives you the heebie jeebies, there are tricks you can use to make this less apparent to others. That's the goal in the end, after all. You want to make others comfortable being around you, as much as you want to be comfortable around others.

Assertiveness

Assertiveness helps you relate to others in a way that balances the needs of everyone.

It can feel uncomfortable when you first start acting this way. Rest assured that in the long run, acting assertively will help to reduce anxiety, and make both you and the people around you more comfortable.

    Telephone Calls

    Although email and texting are quickly becoming popular, the phone is still a primary way that many people communicate. What happens when you are afraid to make or answer calls? If you have a phobia of using the phone, there are a number of tips and tricks that you can use to overcome your fear. In addition, you can practice exposure therapy on your own to gradually desensitize yourself to using the phone.

    Compliments

    If you suffer with SAD, you probably have trouble gracefully accepting compliments and may not give compliments easily. Learning these two social skills is important; compliments are a way of initiating and deepening relationships. They are great conversation starters and a way to show appreciation for others.

    Conversations

    The art of conversation may seem like a puzzle if you have SAD. Perhaps you never know what to say. Maybe you feel uncomfortable talking about yourself. Conversations are the building blocks of relationships, and knowing how to navigate them better will help you to get to know those around you.

    Below are some tips for having better conversations.

    Introductions

    Introductions are a way of making people feel comfortable. Whether you are called upon to make introductions, or you are being introduced, it is important to know the rules of these social encounters. Knowing how to confidently make introductions is a useful social skill.

    Active Listening

    Active listening involves paying attention, asking questions, and reflecting back what someone says. When you practice active listening, the other person in the conversation feels heard. If you suffer with SAD, you may find that practicing active listening helps to turn off the internal dialogue in your head. When you are fully focused on someone else, it is hard to worry about yourself.

    Building and improving upon your social skills is an important component of treatment for SAD. These are just some examples of ways that you can learn to better negotiate social situations. If you find yourself severely lacking social skills, talk with your treatment professional about social skills courses or other methods for improving your abilities.

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