It is estimated that one out of every eight people experience some degree of social anxiety. Take a moment, and visualize eight people sitting around a holiday dinner table. At least one of these guests will have some form of social anxiety.
Social anxiety is characterized by feelings such as nervousness, embarrassment and humiliation. People with social anxiety can be made to feel uncomfortable about being introduced to someone, being watched by others, making small talk or having to say something in a group setting.
Havoc on upcoming holiday socializing
At some point, almost everyone can relate to having experienced some mild form of social anxiety. Think back on an awkward social setting when you may have experienced a lump in your throat or sweaty palms? Whether mild or moderate social anxiety, it can create havoc on any upcoming holiday socializing.
What's a person with mild social anxiety to do?
Take some advice from Dr. David Burns, who is a cognitive behavioral therapist, an adjunct clinical professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine and author of the best-selling books, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy and When Panic Attacks. Dr Burns suggests three listening skills that can help alleviate stressful social anxiety, no matter what type of discomfort you may be facing this season.
Try out Dr Burn's listening skills:
1. "Find some truth in what the other person is saying, even if it seems unreasonable or unfair."
2. "Empathize by putting yourself in her [or his] shoes and see the world from her perspective. Part of being empathetic is to act as a mirror, paraphrasing her words and acknowledging how she's probably feeling."
3. "Ask gentle, probing questions to learn more about what the other person is thinking and feeling."
The world is your oyster
The world is your oyster when it comes to opportunities to practice techniques to avoid social anxiety. And, frankly, all of these tips are positive attributes to include in everyone's day. As in anything, the more you practice, the easier it becomes.
Read more about social anxiety in my article for Health Central Social Anxiety -Tis the Season
Published On: December 08, 2008