Learning to Make Connections After Overcoming Social Anxiety

The anxiety is gone (or at the very least is entirely manageable now) and you’re ready to start getting out there in the big wide world, making new friends and forging new relationships. But wait? How do you do that exactly?

I remember being about 7 years old and able to walk up to a child and say “Hi, I’m Gemma. Would you like to play with me?” It was a pretty cool strategy that worked almost all of the time. Except this one time when I was on holiday with my grandparents. We were in Spain and I was playing alone in a swimming pool. I saw a little girl just like me and thought it would be nice to play.

The challenge was that I hadn’t realised she was Spanish. So when I approached her to say hello, she looked at me and freaked out because I was speaking to her in the wrong language. I watched her swim away hurriedly to her father, talk to him in her own language and point at me as if I had threatened to kill her. It was a big wake up call. Making friends wasn’t always going to be as easy in the future as it had been in the past, and clearly there was a little more that I need to know when it came to making relationships. “Hello, do you want to be my friend?” wasn’t the fail safe that I thought it was.

There’s a rule when it comes to communications that ‘People like people who are like themselves’. Meaning that we prefer to connect with others who in some way appear to be like us. That could be something about their posture or how they use their body, the tone of their voice or even the sorts of words and language they use.

Therefore, a good first step in building up relationships with others after overcoming social anxiety, is to observe others first. Notice the communication styles they use. At the Hypnotherapy and NLP Clinic in Hertfordshire, we teach people all of the different clues you can look out for to identify someone’s communication style; how to replicate it and communicate back to them in that style causing them to feel comfortable and at ease with you.

We’ll also teach you how to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. It goes without saying that we have all experienced an uncomfortable social encounter at some time, but when someone has had social anxiety, they have felt that feeling (or at the very least feared having that feeling) for a significant period of time. Taking that first bold steps to ‘get back out there’ and face up to whatever may come your way takes an honest acknowledgement that just because you feel better, it doesn’t mean that everyone you meet will be lovely, or that they’ll love you. Becoming comfortable with the idea that sometimes your conversations may be stilted or that people might not be as friendly as you would have liked; whilst still maintaining the knowledge that many people will be friendly and many other conversations will be wonderful, takes a kind of acceptance of the idea that that things may not be perfect every time and that this is perfectly natural and okay.

By Gemma Bailey