How to look confident at social gatherings

“Getting together in groups can feel awkward, especially when we experience social anxiety,” says Michelle Chalfant, licensed therapist, holistic life coach, and host of The Adult Chair podcast. “With the pandemic, many people feel like they have lost the ability to connect, and at times, it might even feel uncomfortable.” That’s exactly why preparing yourself for upcoming social encounters is key.

With a toolkit for your next gathering that includes social anxiety management tips from therapists and prompts for how to start a conversation, you’ll be feeling comfortable and confident again in no time.

4 tips to prepare yourself for upcoming social gatherings

1. Take deep breaths

“When we are scared, stressed, or anxious we tend to hold our breath or have shallow breathing,” says Chalfant. “This creates more anxiety in our bodies. Take slow, deep breaths while you are speaking to someone to stay present, grounded in your body, and calm.”

2. Try a mantra

“Repeat: ‘I’m okay,’” says Chalfant. “Slowly repeat this short phrase to yourself over and over like a mantra; this will help you to stay present and keep any negative self-talk at bay.” She recommends saying it slowly while placing a hand over your heart.

3. Embrace the anxiety

Chalfant says connecting to your anxious feelings may help you reclaim the feeling and in turn lower feelings of awkwardness. “Get to know it, get a visual of it, and speak to it. Let it know that you’ve got it, you are going to be social, and that part of you can relax and you will do the talking.”

4. Use body language

“Open, friendly body language and facial expressions,” can put anyone at ease, including introverts and social butterflies, alike, says Terri Cole, clinical psychotherapist and author of Boundary Boss. “If you are no longer hugging or shaking hands, then immediately offer your elbow to bump, if that feels appropriate…. If someone reaches their hand out, you can gracefully offer your elbow instead.”

12 foolproof prompts for how to start a conversation with anyone

It’s easier than you may assume to avoid conversational gaffes—doing so is just about asking the right thing. In other words? Simply ask questions. “People like to talk about themselves,” says Chalfant. “So, asking questions is a brilliant way to connect with others and lessen anxiety.” Cole echoes this and suggests creating flow in the conversation by using expansive questions as opposed to closed questions.

“People like to talk about themselves. So, asking questions is a brilliant way to connect with others and lessen anxiety.” —Michelle Chalfant, licensed therapist

“If you are at a gathering, instead of saying ‘Do you know the host?’ which a closed question, ask ‘How do you know Betty?’ which is an expansive question,” says Cole. “This will help you to engage people in interesting, energizing, or valuable conversations that expand (if you want them to) rather than constrict into awkward, one-word answer kind of conversations. Expansive questions tend to elicit deeper and more detailed responses.”

Below, Chalfant and Cole provide 12 expansive questions that all double as great strategies for how to start a conversation.

1. Event-related

  1. How do you know the host?
  2. Do you like gatherings like this? Are you more of an extrovert or introvert?
  3. Compliment the person on their outfit and ask where they got it. Ask where they shop and what they would recommend.

2. Seasonal

  1. What did you do this summer? How was your summer? Did you travel at all? If so, where?
  2. Any plans for the holidays? Are you ready for the change in seasons?

3. Work and life

  1. What do you like best about your job? How did you get into this business?
  2. Do you live nearby? How long have you lived there? What do you like about it?

4. Entertainment and pastimes

  1. I’m looking for a new book. Any books you’ve read recently that you’d recommend?
  2. Have you listened to any good podcasts recently? What did you like about them? Would you recommend any of them? Why?
  3. What are you watching on Netflix? Any good shows you’d recommend?
  4. Who or what inspires your art?
  5. I am thinking about taking a trip. What is your favorite travel destination?

Even armed with this tips for how to start a conversation, you might still feel uncomfortable in your social setting. But remember, it’s very likely that others around you feel similarly—and keeping this in mind can help you feel like you’re part of a community. That, in turn, can lead to feelings of acceptance. “You are not alone in how you feel,” Chalfant says. “The best part is that the more you gather and the more you work on bringing yourself down from anxiety, the easier it becomes to gather in groups.”

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Unless you have the uber ego of Donald Trump, you’d probably do everything in your power to get out of having to speak in front of a large crowd. But most of us will find ourselves on display behind a microphone at some point, so to keep you from blowing it, get familiar with these 13 simple tricks.

1. Admit you’re nervous

Don’t be afraid to freak out. Try clenching your fists, breathing deeply, and standing confidently to help curb your nervous energy and anxiety beforehand; doing so will subconsciously calm you down. It’s also not a bad idea to admit to the crowd up front that you’re nervous; it invites empathy and can make you feel more comfortable.

2. Make mistakes intentionally

This psychological trick, like admitting you’re nervous up front, can also induce empathy in the crowd. “Accidentally” drop your notes, or fiddle around with the PowerPoint slides as if they’re out of order. It seems counterintuitive, but it will also work to keep the crowd engaged.

3. Redefine your audience

Don’t imagine everyone in front of you is naked or that they’re all just friendly pigs, because that’s absurd. Instead, change how you see them in a more meaningful way: maybe they’re fellow students who are all equally nervous because they’ll be presenting after you, or they’re a bunch of old friends whose vaguely familiar faces are watching you with nothing but support.

4. Always run short

The last thing you want is a restless crowd. If you’re scheduled for 30 mins, shoot for 20-25. People are more likely to walk away with your message when it’s presented tightly and quickly.

5. Visual aids are your friends

Even if what you’re discussing doesn’t necessitate aids, bring in something to display beside or behind you. When people are given something other than you to look at up there, you’ll feel more comfortable. However, don’t look up at them yourself—keep an eye on your laptop or memorize what’s on them so the presented information appears like a seamless extension of your brain.

6. Repeat yourself

Repeating key phrases once or twice is a great way to reinforce important points, and repeating audience questions will not only give you an extra minute to come up with a good response, but also ensure everyone else hears it, and gives the effect that you’re especially engaged.

7. Know your speech

This sounds obvious, but it’s crucial that you’re very, very familiar with your remarks. That means practicing it several times or even memorizing it if you can, all while paying particular attention to your pacing. Most people talk in a slower and more stilted manner in front of people compared to how they would in casual conversation. Practicing will keep you from seeming stiff up there.

8. Control your pauses

If you find yourself pausing for any reason, hold it for at least 10 seconds. Pauses of two to three seconds make it seem as though you’re stumbling, while a long one seems intentional and will catch even the most uninterested peoples’ attention.

9. Create contingency plans

Nothing will throw you off your game like a (non-accidental) PowerPoint fail. Identify a couple of your biggest “what if?” fears and create backup plans. If they do happen you’ll look like a rock up there, but even more importantly it will put you at ease throughout and boost confidence.

10. Speak to one person at a time

Direct your focus on a particular person for each section of your speech, especially if that person has just asked you a question. Not only will it slightly distract you from the sea of other faces staring up at you, but it’ll make the experience feel more personal for everyone.

11. Make it personal

To make what you’re saying more memorable, experts recommend adding personal anecdotes. Whether it’s a funny story or a personal opinion you have about something, it’ll get peoples’ attention and make you seem like more than just some dude pontificating up on the dais.

12. Blow off steam beforehand

Burn off that cortisol that’s causing your jitters by exercising beforehand, and eating a protein-packed snack an hour or so before to boost mental alertness.

13. Pay attention to your body

Stand up straight with broad shoulders and your arms loose; it’ll help to subconsciously boost your confidence.

Joe McGauley is a senior editor at Supercompressor who very much prefers private speaking.

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How to look confident at social gatherings

You go to hug someone, but they’re trying to shake your hand, so you end up backslapping them from a foot away.

Your date asks whether you prefer vanilla or chocolate ice cream, and for some reason you end up telling them about the time you vomited after eating vanilla.

Chances are good that you’re not nearly as socially inept as you believe you are. But simply thinking of yourself as awkward can undermine your confidence in social situations.

To help give you a confidence boost, we checked out the Quora thread “What are the best ways to improve social skills?” and pinpointed some practical tips.

We can’t promise you’ll never have another awkward encounter, but hopefully this advice will help you enjoy, instead of dread, social interactions.

Note that if social anxiety is interfering with your ability to function on a daily basis, you might consider seeing a therapist, who can give you more tools to overcome your nerves.

Be present.

We’re so accustomed to mental and physical multitasking that we might not even realize how off-putting it can be to conversation partners.

“When you’re with someone, but you’re distracted by other thoughts or emotions, people notice,” writes Eva Glasrud. “Maybe your eyes glaze over, or your reactions are a little off or delayed. Or maybe you’re being super obvious about it and using a mobile device while ‘listening’ to them.”

Glasrud continues: “This makes people feel bad. Like they’re not important. Or like you’re not being authentic.”

The ability to focus on the here and now is a skill called mindfulness, which you can cultivate gradually through practices like focusing on your breath and the individual sensations you’re feeling in a given moment.

Focus on the other person.

“The best thing I ever learned to improve my social skills was to think of the other person/people instead of myself,” says Jennifer McGinnis. “Instead of worrying how I was ‘performing’ or coming across, I would think about the other person and how they seemed to be feeling or getting along.”

Chances are good that your conversation partner is feeling just as uncomfortable as you are — and recognizing that could help you relax.

Act 'as if.'

In other words, fake it till you make it.

Act “as if” you have great social skills. What does that look like? Pretend you are the host of whatever gathering you are in and make someone feel welcome. Smile, make brief eye contact, and say hi.

Crawford is on to something. A growing body of research suggests that you can change your emotions simply by changing your behavior. For example, smiling can make you feel happier, and adopting a “power pose” can make you feel more confident.

Practice and reflect.

Social awkwardness is something of a vicious cycle. The worse you feel, the less likely you are to talk to people, which only exacerbates your discomfort.

That’s why Quora user Jeremy Mifsud recommends in a now deleted comment deliberately seeking out a range of social situations as a kind of experiment:

The easiest ways to improve your social skills is to consciously put yourself into social situations. Afterward think about what went to your liking and what else was there that you wanted out of each situation.

Take an improv class.

Hari Alipuria suggests that others who frequently feel awkward in social situations follow his lead in doing improvisational theater:

Most social awkwardness is the result of overthinking. This overthinking is the result of fear. Improv forces you to be in the moment. Instead of thinking about myself, I actively listen, and build on what others have said.

It goes back to McGinnis’ idea that you should redirect your focus away from yourself, what might go wrong in the future, and the mistakes you’ve made in the past and concentrate instead on the current conversation.

Team up with someone more socially skilled.

“I have found that a good way to increase my social exposure is to make a few, close friendships with people who are inherently much more gregarious than I am,” writes Ankit Sethi.

“I accompany them to social events, they help to introduce me to new people and thereby give me a social ‘starting line of credit’ with these folks, because by virtue of association with the gregarious friend I don’t have to start from scratch with them — I already have an implicit endorsement, of sorts.

“Another plus is that they can deal with the small talk much more easily, giving you the option to chime in whenever you have something substantial to say and stay quiet when you don’t.”

Eventually, you’ll feel OK talking to people on your own, without the support of your chatty pal.

Ask questions.

Don’t use every interaction as an opportunity to impose your values and beliefs on others. Consider how you can make the other person feel relaxed and give them space to express their thoughts and feelings.

“Instead of racing to insert your own point of view, ask questions,” says Karen Engdahl. “Don’t interrupt. Don’t feel compelled to fill silence with chatter.”

I love sharing my life on Instagram. It’s how I keep up with friends, learn about new trends, and see news from my favorite celebrities and influencers. My profile is like a public photo album I’ve been curating for years, and I enjoy looking back on old posts when I’m feeling sentimental.

There’s pressure online sometimes to be a flawless person, and it can be easy to slip into a pattern of comparing oneself to the carefully curated snapshots shared by celebrities and influencers. Despite my love for Instagram, I’ve gone through phases of wanting to delete my profile altogether because of a pressure to communicate perfection in what I post.

Lately, I’ve been trying to embrace some new rules to keep having fun sharing content on my favorite platform without pressuring myself to reach an impossible standard. Here are my top three tips to stay confident on social media.

Remember your profile is for you

In my opinion, the most important thing to remember about social media is that it’s yours to participate in however you like. If you choose to have a profile and post, you get to pick what and how often you post online. Your posts, although they’re shared with others, are your own! If you want to post glammed-up selfies, you can, but you can also post a photo in your PJs with your dog if you’re going to do that too.
The name “followers” creates pressure to share content with the audience in mind, and that pressure can keep you from feeling like you’re able to post something you love. If you reframe your profile as something you’ve created for yourself rather than for others, you permit yourself to post without worrying about judgment from others.

Ignore “likes” – Or hide them completely

Because the “like” counts on social media posts are usually public, it’s super easy to compare posts against one another. This comparison can be harmful and can lead to judging one’s value based on how well a post is performing online.

Choosing not to look at likes or to hide them altogether removes the temptation to engage in this type of comparison and encourages you to value your posts based on how much you like them.

I turned off likes on my own Instagram a while ago, and I don’t miss them at all. I’ve found that it’s freeing to remove them altogether because I get to focus on the content I want to see.

Don’t edit out your imperfections

There are so many editing apps out there that can change your appearance drastically with just a few taps – clearing your skin, widening your smile, adding makeup, or even changing your hair or eye color. These apps can be fun to play with, but they can also create an impossible standard for people to meet by allowing them to remove every blemish from a photo.
Removing all your imperfections can lead you to compare your real-life self with the edited version of you online. When I post, I’ve decided that I’ll leave the blemishes in my photos. Acne or freckles don’t make a picture “bad” – they’re just a part of me, and accepting what I post helps me feel more confident in real life.

These tips work for me and help me feel empowered in what I post, but you might have your ways to use social media in a fun way for you. I hope you find ways to make your Instagram a place to show off your most confident self!

How to look confident at social gatherings

Upset stomach. A heavy weight on your chest. Feeling like you can’t breathe. A constant, unrelenting worry that others think you’re stupid or annoying. The sudden urge to bolt from the crowd. This is what it can be like to experience social anxiety as an introvert, according to the introverts I spoke with.

To be clear, both introverts and extroverts can struggle with social anxiety, and not every introvert is anxious. Although they’re often mistaken for each other, introversion and anxiety are not the same thing. As I explain in my book, The Secret Lives of Introverts, introversion is simply a preference for calm, minimally-stimulating environments. If you relate to these 21 signs, you’re probably an introvert.

Social anxiety disorder, on the other hand, is an “intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation,” according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Introversion is a temperament, meaning introverts were likely born that way and will stay introverts for life (although research shows we do grow and change). Social anxiety, in contrast, is treatable.

Nevertheless, it’s common for introverts to find themselves battling some level of social anxiety. It can strike at any social gathering, big or small, and sometimes without rhyme or reason. For example, Josh, an introvert working in retail, told me that social anxiety sometimes forces him to escape to the privacy of the bathroom, when his heart is beating out of control at the thought of having to interact with strangers. Jacqueline, another introvert, said social anxiety strikes when she’s in an unorganized crowd, such as at a concert or political rally. The last such event she attended induced a breathless panic attack that made her flee the “mass of bodies and people” talking to her.

Social anxiety is the worst.

Why We’re Not Talking About Social Anxiety

Although about 15 million adult Americans suffer from social anxiety disorder, we don’t talk openly about it, because, like most mental health issues, there’s a stigma around it. In an extroverted society obsessed with gregariousness and charm, social anxiety has no place.

Most people who don’t have social anxiety have no idea what it’s truly like. Like many who struggle with it, I’ve been told to “fake it until you make it” and “just get over it,” which, to this date, have failed to magically cure me.

As a result of being misunderstood, people with social anxiety may blame themselves for their reactions. They wonder why they can’t go out and enjoy socializing like “normal” people. They may suffer in silence or withdraw from the world, which just makes things worse.

What Introverts with Social Anxiety Wish You Knew

In an effort to bring more awareness to it, I asked introverts with social anxiety from the Introvert, Dear Facebook group to tell me what they wish others knew about their experience. Here are 15 things they told me:

  1. People think I’m overreacting. They say, ‘It’s just a simple presentation,’ but for me, it’s a big deal. Instead of mocking me/us, just EMPATHIZE. It’s not easy being in our situation. Instead, help us boost our self-confidence by saying words of encouragement.” —Assenav
  2. Don’t take it personally. Strike up a conversation and I’ll try to keep my end of it. It’ll take a bit, but I do warm up to talking. Odd, but being with my students is never a problem. Perhaps because in a sense it is scripted, according to the lesson plan.” —Ann
  3. “I wish other people knew that it isn’t as easy as ‘just stop it.’” —Bridget
  4. “I wish other people knew how much a simple reassurance or kind word means to someone struggling with social anxiety. Put yourself in their shoes and always be kind.” —Angelica
  5. “I wish I could tell more people about my social anxiety but I worry that I’ll be labeled as someone with a mental illness.” —Sylvia
  6. “If I’m talking fast, it’s because I’m uncomfortable and I want to get through the interaction quickly to spare myself discomfort.” —Riley
  7. “Forcing me to say something isn’t the way to win me over. I have to feel comfortable contributing to a conversation. Social anxiety feels like you’re about to be persecuted for being yourself.” —Tina
  8. “I wish people knew that it is just something that I cannot control. Also, I’m not crazy.” —Sara
  9. “I wish people wouldn’t expect everyone to be perky and outgoing, and I really wish not to be made fun of or ‘pitied’ when I can’t take it anymore and dash out of the room.” —Kris
  10. “I wish people knew that my demeanor or lack of engagement and nonverbal signs of avoidance have nothing to do with them. I wish they wouldn’t get personally offended when I’m late or seem uninvolved or aloof. I’m really just dealing with the intense dread and trying not to get overwhelmed and swallowed up by the feelings of impending doom.” —Sara
  11. “Just because there are times I come across as very confident and outgoing, it doesn’t mean I don’t struggle inside with anxiety and negative self-talk.” —Melissa
  12. “I don’t feel the need to be the center of attention at social events, and ‘working the room’ feels fake and tires me out. I used to get stomach aches and sweats before I went out, and I hated relying on alcohol to let my guard down. Now I just force myself to do events but in short spurts and well-spaced out so I can cope better.” —Amoreena
  13. It’s not something that just goes away. It takes a lot of energy to fight it, so I may not stay long in the situation. Not just to get away as an introvert, but anxiety can physically cause pain so I leave.” —Hilary
  14. “No one can make you snap out of it.” —Amoreena
  15. “I wish people knew I had social anxiety. Then I would no longer have to pretend.” —Jane

THE BASICS

  • What Is Anxiety?
  • Find a therapist to overcome anxiety

We need to start talking about social anxiety. We need to stop acting like it doesn’t exist and accept that it’s a very real part of many people’s lives. Because when we do that, we open the door to more understanding and help for those who need it most.

This post was originally published on Introvert, Dear.

How to look confident at social gatherings

If you’re like me, then I’m sure you have days when you’re just not feelin’ it at work. Maybe you’re tired, or lacking confidence, or totally overwhelmed. And it can really start to take it’s toll. Luckily, there are ways to appear more professional and confident at work, regardless of how you feel on the inside.

Because let’s be honest, you aren’t going to show up to work every day as your most polished, sophisticated self. You may be wrinkled and messy. You may let a few things slip through the cracks. You might even get nervous and totally flub an important presentation. If that happens, don’t worry. You’re only human. Humans get nervous, humans get tired, and humans occasionally show up to work with a giant coffee stain on their shirt. It’s not the end of the world.

You will, however, want to reign all that in, and present your best self as often as possible. Because, like it or not, your boss and co-workers are probably going to take note of how you handle yourself at work. That includes how you dress, how you act in meetings, how quickly and professionally you answer emails — all of it. I know, it kind of sounds judge-y and overly critical. But that’s the way the working world works.

So put your best foot forward, feel confidence, and move up that corporate ladder, with a few of these tips for feeling, and looking, more professional at work.

1. Be All About That Work Outfit

Most jobs have a dress code, which you should obviously adhere to. However, I recommend taking it one step further, and really throwing together an amazing work outfit. Not only is it fun to dress up, but there’s something about the perfect outfit that can really make you feel so good. And when you feel good, you exude confidence.

2. Wear A Signature Item

Standing out, style-wise, can keep you memorable in your boss’s mind. It also screams confidence, if you are that guy or girl with the recognizable style. As Dorie Clark said on Forbes, "Don’t worry if it doesn’t come naturally to you . go for it. The days of conformity are over; what people are likely to remember about you is how you’re different and unique."

3. Keep Your Desk Looking Top Notch

There’s something very mad science-y about a messy desk, so if that’s your gig, then have at it. But for fancy offices, or minimalist start-up environments, it may do some good to have a clean, organized desk. It’ll look like you have your sh*t together, even if you don’t. Plus, it’ll make working and staying on top of projects that much easier.

4. Adopt A Professional Phone Voice

Talking in a professional phone voice can be tough to get used to, especially if you’re working for the first time. It does do wonders, however, for how professional you sound. As Ben Brumm said on Lifehack.org, "Your greeting is the first thing that people hear when they call you, and you want to send a good impression to them. Try adding your name in there as well as a greeting." It’ll sound so very grown-up, and will score major points with whoever’s on the other end of the phone.

5. Be Cool With Taking Risks

The next time your boss approaches you with a new project, you may secretly want to die inside. How will you handle it? Will you mess it up? Your mind reels. But don’t let these thoughts run away with you. Instead, agree to give it a go, and then do your best. This is the idea of "risk taking," according to Bill Murphy Jr. on Ic.com, and it can really help you make a good impression.

6. Go Beyond What’s Expected

If you want to make a good impression, even if your confidence is quickly waning, the best thing to do is going above and beyond what’s expected. "With each new assignment, think of ways you can knock the ball out of the park," suggested Ruth Zive on TheMuse.com. "You’ll feel better about yourself if you go the extra mile — and you’ll probably get some good feedback from others, too."

7. Set Up An Email Signature

If there’s anything more professional than an email signature, please let me know. It not only lets contacts know that they’re communicating with your on a professional level, but it also gives them the info they need to reach out again in the future. In other words, it quickly takes your email from the "one I use to send memes to my friends," to "the email I use to for my fancy job."

8. Ask For Some Constructive Feedback

This one might sound scary. I mean, who wants to be critiqued? But trust me when I say that asking for some feedback is just about the most professional thing you can do. "Doing so demonstrates that you care about your work and want to succeed in your job," Zive said. "Plus, instead of anxiously wondering what you’re doing wrong, you’ll gain a better sense of your performance, your strengths, and your areas for improvement."

9. Don’t Play On Your Phone

There isn’t a person on the planet who doesn’t occasionally browse the internet while at work, or sneak a few texts under their desk. Heck, some companies don’t even care if you do so, as long as your work gets done. But other places of employment seriously frown on any personal phone use. Stick to what’s expected of you at work.

10. Have Some Good Posture

It may be comfy, but no one looks like the picture of professionalism when they slouch. As Katya Andresen said on Entrepreneur, ". studies show body language can affect who we hire, how we judge people, how we decide how to interact with someone, and how we perceive ourselves." So sit up straight at your desk, and stride around the office with confidence.

11. Accept Praise For A Job Well Done

If you’ve been feeling shy at work, then accepting praise may feel absolutely mortifying. Don’t downplay your achievements. "Acknowledging those successes and rewarding yourself will remind you how great you really are — and there’s no greater confidence boost than a job well done."

Keep these tips in mind, and I’m sure you’ll come across as the most confident person at work, whether you feel that way or not. Hopefully, it’ll start to rub off, and you’ll

Instead of skipping it altogether, use these strategies to navigate it solo.

You know the feeling. You’ve been invited somewhere. Somewhere fun, where there’ll be food and tasty beverages, potential hook-ups, and the promise of not staring at the walls of your own abode for a couple more hours. But the only person you’re guaranteed to know is the host—who will be busy making introductions and generally flitting about.

What to do? You don’t want to look like a loser in the corner, but after the cooped-up, sourdough-making, talking-to-our-plants year and half of isolation we’ve just had, you know it’ll be good to get out. To connect IRL with a living creature that isn’t your dog. So how can you survive, even enjoy, this gathering you’re attending solo? Let us count the ways.

Offer to help the host

Whether you volunteer to assist in pre-party set up or passing the hors d’oeuvres, this is a genius move. Not only are you helping someone else, your good deed equally serves your own purposes. It gives you something to do, instead of idly standing around. In a LifeProTips thread on Reddit , user Rustytrout also notes that it provides social proof that you are tight with the party-thrower. “If you are seen setting up you are viewed as closer to the host and that immediately makes a strong first impression (presuming those attending have a positive view of the host).” If you don’t want to get stuck cleaning up too, specify you need to leave by a certain time.

Arrive early

Forget being fashionably late. Have you experienced the wonders of being on time? Not only do you get extra time with the host (who is presumably your friend), you can meet people individually, when they first walk in, instead of later, when less approachable groups have already formed. Another plus is being able to have conversations without needing to shout over the deafening din of dozens of people hopped up on booze. (Although if that’s your scene, you do you.) Bonus? No awkward guilt if you want to bail early and get back to your sweet, sweet bed for a good night’s sleep.

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.

How to look confident at social gatherings

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

APA Reference
Roberts, E. (2015, May 14). How to Feel Confident in Social Situations, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, October 27 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2015/05/how-to-feel-confident-in-social-situations

Author: Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Emily is a psychotherapist, she is intensively trained in DBT, she 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.