How to Improve Social Skills When You Have Social Anxiety Disorder

Tips to Improve Your Social Skills

Social skills can be learned at any age.
Social anxiety can impede social interactions.. Paul Bradbury / Getty Images

Social skills are the building blocks of social interaction. If you suffer with social anxiety disorder (SAD), you may have failed to develop some of these important skills. However, you can learn these skills at any age. Below are some key areas on which to focus..

Party Anxiety

If you've been invited to a party, a number of questions might be running through your head. 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 fantastic time at the next party you attend.

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 the ground, your feet, the door—whatever helps you to escape.

Even if eye contact makes you uncomfortable, there are tricks you can use to make this less apparent to others. Remember—the goal of being socially adept is to make others comfortable being around you, as much as it is about you becoming 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 behaving this way. However, over time, acting in an assertive manner will help to reduce anxiety, and make both you and the people around you more comfortable.

Telephone Calls

Although email and text have become popular tools for keeping in touch, the phone is still a primary method of communication for many people.

People with social anxiety disorder are often afraid to make phone calls and to answer the phone when it rings.

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 foreign language if you have social anxiety disorder. 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 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, knowing the rules of these social encounters will stand you in good stead. 

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 also 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 difficult to focus on yourself.

Building and improving upon your social skills is an important component of treatment for social anxiety disorder. 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 training or other methods for improving your abilities.

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