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12 Practical Tips for Overcoming Social Anxiety to Build Confidence

My 3X Model is a simple roadmap to conversations to ensure they’re real, brave, honest, connecting and respectful. You can use this model with friends, lovers, family, coworkers and strangers alike. I recommend starting with safe people and then once you’ve got the hang of it, branch out.

Step one: Explore. Use curiosity to think of the most honest thing you can say based on what is currently happening. Take your time but don’t overthink — once you’ve identified something, just go with it.

Step two: Engage. Use honesty to express yourself as boldly as possible. Say what you think, be as concise as you can, and stop when you’re done. Don’t do multiple points, don’t explain or justify yourself (they can ask for more details if they need it), and don’t end with an apology or question.

Step three: Release. Go silent and observe them with all of your attention. While they respond, let go of any ideas or plans for the future of this conversation. Don’t try to think of what you’ll say next until after they’re done. Let them prompt you and give you ideas.

Then come back to Explore after reflecting on their response, and around you go again.

Sounds simple but most people don’t do this. They overthink. They say superficial or dishonest things. They don’t listen and instead just wait for their next turn to speak.

Pressure to stay and perform is a leading cause of social anxiety. And yet this pressure is self-created and an illusion. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do, and giving yourself freedom to determine when things begin and end will give you a sense of power.

All you have to do is show up.

Whatever the social situation, be it a party or a date or a meeting, only task yourself with showing up. Nothing more than that.

Once you’re there, pay attention to how you feel throughout the interaction. Stay only as long as you think is good for you. Leave when you feel that it’s getting too much or when it’s no longer valuable for you to stay.

This might sound like an excuse to bail, but you’re more likely to show up and participate when you have permission to quit. When you pressure yourself to engage in a big way, you’re way less likely to even socialize in the first place!

Building confidence is about pushing the old comfort zone. But it’s important that you’re patient with your progress and don’t hold yourself to unreasonably perfect standards (which are a secret excuse to not do anything at all).

Whatever you’re doing socially, identify the limit of your comfort (i.e. your courage) and just try to do one small thing that goes slightly beyond that. Maybe it’s starting a conversation with a new person. Maybe it’s holding eye contact a bit longer. Maybe it’s initiating touch.

Once you’ve done that, ease up and give yourself a break, patting yourself on the back for another small yet significant step forward. Look to compound these small wins over time rather than trying to score 10/10 on every attempt.

If something is terrifying or in any way too scary to do, dismiss it and choose something smaller. Keep downsizing until you find something you will actually do. Just make sure it’s more than nothing at all — that’s the only requirement.

Carrying on from that last point, make a list of various social actions you could take, and rank them according to discomfort levels. You should end up with a list of possible actions that start with “slightly uncomfortable but I could do it” and go all the way up to “I can’t imagine ever being brave enough to do that!” and everything in between.

Then simply choose the lowest-risk one on the list and make that today’s or this week’s goal. Keep doing it until you no longer feel any fear doing it, and then go back to the list for your next challenge.

Maybe it starts with sustaining eye contact. Then it’s keeping your back straight back and holding yourself strongly. Then you try to stop asking questions and make statements instead. Then you join a new group, or initiate a slight disagreement, or show attraction directly, etc.

Take your time. This is a lifelong journey. There’s no rush. But don’t get complacent. There should be some discomfort almost every day to build your social confidence. It just doesn’t need to be much.

Controlling your body and speech is a quick hack for confidence building.

SLOW: move like you’re underwater. Eliminate all rushing and agitated jerks and movements. Pause more and speak slowly.

LOUD: speak loud enough that the person has no choice but to hear you. People nearby should be able to hear your conversation too. Move purposefully, it should look like you meant to move that way.

PROUD: state things like you’re making a strong point in a debate. Don’t end with a hesitant question-sounding pitch rise. End in a full stop, dropping the pitch. Hold eye contact and talk as if you’re speaking the absolute truth, even when you’re unsure of what you’re saying. And take up space with your body. Sit comfortably. Walk with long strides. Let your hands move while you speak.

Socially anxious people tend to avoid saying more than is needed to survive. This is called a “transactional” conversation — saying the minimum to complete whatever the transaction might be, whether it’s literally buying something or participating in a team meeting or answering someone’s questions.

Adding a statement that goes beyond the socially accepted and required minimum can help you break into new levels of confidence.

If you’re buying gas at the gas station, at least comment on the weather. If your boss is wrapping up the meeting, give him a compliment on his presentation. If someone asks you a question, share an extra anecdote when you’ve finished your answer.

There’s a good chance that there are people you see on a weekly basis who you haven’t yet met. Could be coworkers in your office, frequent bus companions, or dancers in your class.

Challenge yourself to break the silence with each of them, with an introduction at the very least.

Use my favourite always-true line; “I’ve seen you around but I don’t think I’ve met you yet. My name is…”

You don’t have to continue speaking after that if you don’t want to (or if they’re unresponsive). You’ve planted a seed and they are now free to engage with you any time they like. But try to stay after you’ve introduced yourself and chat for as long as seems comfortable.

From friends to coworkers to retail staff, you’re likely to be asked some version of “How’s your day going?” every single week (unless you’re a shut-in). Most people respond with superficial lies like “Fine” or “Good thanks!”

Try answering honestly.

Stop and think about how you feel in the moment. Try your best to share this with them, even if it’s not totally positive.

You don’t need to dump on them like they’re a therapist. Just concisely speak the truth.

“I’m a bit tired this morning.”

“My dog ate my favourite hat and I’m still getting over it.”

“I’m buzzing from my coffee.”

Just think and answer with a bit more of YOU for once. Notice how quickly it builds rapport with the right people. Yes, some people don’t want a real answer, but screw them. This will at least stop them pointlessly asking again in the future!

If you just really need to spend more time around other people and build up a basic foundation of social comfort, start with places that are likely to be filled with kind, accepting and safe people.

Maybe it’s a soup kitchen for the homeless, or helping out intellectually disabled children for a local charity. There are bound to be a few options nearby.

This will also put you in a Giving mentality, which is the best possible mind-state to build social confidence because you’re absent from neediness and desire to get.

Improv classes and Toastmasters are two examples of groups you can join that will push you to quickly develop social skills and courage, whilst being in an environment of support and playfulness.

Look for groups and classes you can join where other socially anxious people are likely to be working on themselves. I don’t mean support groups and therapy though, I mean places where people are looking to push themselves and be brave in a slightly unsafe and challenging situation.

If you have anti-social hobbies, like working out alone or playing video games or online chats, figure out how to take them to the real world. Shared interests make for the easiest conversation starters.

Try digging your thumbnail into the knuckle of your forefinger. This little sharp pain is never going to give you a permanent injury, but it will bring your attention back to the present moment.

Confidence is a lot about presence. To break through social anxiety, you need to constantly bring yourself back to now, and not fall for the temptation to drift, ruminate, overthink, analyse, imagine and worry.

When walking up to someone, look down and follow your feet one step at a time. When someone is talking, keeping trying refocus on what they’re saying. Look into their eyes and notice what color they are.

Get out of your head by any means possible. And do it as often as needed, which might mean multiple times every single minute!

Once you’ve built some momentum, start pushing it further. Try going toward rejection instead of avoiding it.

It’s less scary to make it happen than hoping it won’t happen and having it occur unexpectedly.

Ask for things people will say No to, like a special breakfast that they don’t have on the menu. Apply for a promotion you’re not qualified for. Get a sales job on the side just to expose yourself to rejection.

Make it your goal to GET rejected rather than to stop it from happening!

Anxiety completely transforms when you’re WILLING to experience it. When you decide to choose what you fear, your brain rewires and it will feel more like thrill-seeking than panic.

These are all beginner level tips. They won’t necessarily create deep connections (though you might be surprised), but they will start a foundation that you can build on toward more advanced connecting.

Wanna get there faster?

Yeah, here comes the pitch…

You can do all this on your own.

Through trial and error, books, courses and online content, you can figure it out slowly piece by piece over time if you dedicate yourself to it and are willing to fail often and get uncomfortable in order to achieve relationship mastery and build strong self confidence.

Or…

You can work directly with me in your corner for a short period of time and achieve the same results in months that would take you YEARS on your own (or your money back!).

That’s what my confidence coaching is really all about. I accelerate your progress significantly by ensuring you:

  • Overcome your fear of rejection
  • Stop seeing yourself as not good enough
  • Develop easy practical social communication skills while still being honest
  • Unleash your masculinity to make you more assertive and attractive
  • Increase your self-confidence and self-respect
  • Get advanced practical tips to eliminate self-sabotage and give you the best possible chances at career advancement, dating opportunities, and deep connections with quality friends
  • Help you see your blind spots and errors and develop a measurement system that you can use on your own to ensure ongoing improvement for life

It took me about 7-10 years to figure this stuff out on my own. It takes my average coaching client only about 3-6 months to achieve a level of mastery that leaves them able to continue coaching themselves to further success while feeling absolutely certain that they’re on the right path (proven by the results they get).

I’ve turned around doomed marriages.

I’ve turned virgins into fathers.

I’ve created assertive leaders out of meek people pleasers.

I’ve released overthinkers so they become powerfully decisive.

I’ve transformed shy introverts into social connectors.

I’ve moved highly anxious and depressed guys into a world of permanent self-confidence and optimism.

You don’t need to take my word for it. You can test it out for yourself. Fill out the application form below for a FREE trial coaching session with no obligation to continue, and no sales pitch!

My coaching will either blow you away and convince you that it’s worth it, or you’ll simply spend an hour talking to me without losing anything.

>> Click here to apply for a complimentary trial coaching session

Thanks for reading

Hope to speak to you soon

Dan Munro

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