My clients will often say to me, “When I’m trying to have a conversation with someone, I can see I’m making them nervous and uncomfortable.”
Earlier in my career (when I was more of a Nice Guy), I would try to reassure them – “no it’s all in your head. You’re great. It’s important to accept being anxious.”
But, as I’ve become more honest in my life and my practice, now I say, “Yes, you might be making others nervous and awkward.”
Don’t despair however! I’m going to share exactly why that is, and more importantly what you can do about it.
By changing just one simple thing, you can learn to put others around you at ease.
Why Does Social Anxiety Make Others Anxious And Nervous?
There are many subtle things that contribute to the spread of anxiety – body language, eye contact, energy. All of these are subtle and are part of the picture, but I want to focus on the MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT.
Looking to the other person to tell you what to do.
That is what makes others uncomfortable around you.
Not the quaver in your voice, not that you have sweaty palms. It’s that you are passively waiting for them to direct the conversation and tell you what say and do.
When we are nervous and shy, we are inhibited. We hold back and keep quiet. We don’t blurt things out, share much about ourselves, or ask what we’re really curious about because we aren’t sure how the other person will respond.
What if they are annoyed or upset? What if they think I’m too nosy? Too self-absorbed?
So instead, we just wait it out. This leads to a passive approach to conversations.
You respond to their questions and the topics they bring up, but you don’t steer the conversation yourself.
This can be highly uncomfortable for the other person. You are leaning on them, nonverbally saying “carry me.”
What Can You Do About It?
In order to put others at ease, you must do 2 things.
1. Acknowledge Your Responsibility To Help Others Connect With You
So often we have a subtle demand that other people should just accept us for who we are and we shouldn’t have to try or effort in any way. “If they don’t like me just as I am, then to hell with them!”
This philosophy might be appealing, but it doesn’t work too well in the social world.
If you make it your responsibility to develop rapport and help people feel connected to you, then YOU are steering the ship.
2. Move From Passive To Active
Instead of waiting for them to introduce themselves to you, go say hi to them.
Instead of responding to their greeting with “I’m good, thanks,” and then standing there, offer something of yourself or ask a question:
“I’m good, thanks. I had a strange experience on the way over here though…”
“I’m good, thanks. That’s a cool jacket, it looks really warm. Where did you get it?”
Being active in conversation means you are willing to be the driver of the conversation. You are willing to ask questions, share information about yourself, and blurt things out that seem loosely related.
It requires you to be willing to say something they might not like or fully understand. There is that risk, but the rewards are dramatic.
It feels really good to walk into a room full of people and to know that you can connect with many of them. That you have the confidence and skills to put others at ease, and to enjoy yourself in the process.
If you want this in your life, get Confidence Unleashed.
If you want this in meeting women, get 30 Days To Dating Mastery.