Anxiety and Talking: Tips to Make Conversation Easy

William ShakespeareIf you’ve dealt with social anxiety or even general anxiety disorder for any length of time it’s possible you’ve had trouble with anxiety and talking to people. Specifically, when your mind freezes, goes blank, or you become so anxious when you’re talking that you could have a panic attack.

In my last post I mentioned how I had a recent bout of talking anxiety at work. When I asked on Facebook if anyone has ever experienced this, the responses were:

All the time unfortunately.

and

yes, and then i either go silent or start mototalking like a 12 year old :P

I thought it would be super helpful to share some important tips to help with Anxiety and Talking. So without further ado, here they are…

Anxiety and Talking Tips

1. Silence your inner critic.
Mine used to tell me I was socially retarded. I heard those negative messages so much that I started to believe them. Isn’t that so mean? Why would I send myself such mean messages? You have to learn to value yourself and never criticize your efforts to get better or beat yourself up.

Once you learn to be gentle and compassionate with yourself, you will not struggle nearly as much.

2. Think about it very logically. You were taught to speak when you were a baby. And until you had social anxiety, communication with others probably wasn’t a problem for you. If this is the case, know for sure you have what it takes to beat anxiety and talking.

3. Treat this as you would any other anxiety symptom. Because it is. So go back to basics- make sure you are breathing correctly. Anxiety makes us hyperventilate and this only makes the symptoms worse. The power of slow, correct, abdominal breathing cannot be understated. Keep breathing while in conversation. Do not hold your breath.

4. Practice when you don’t feel anxious. If your talking anxiety is worse, say around neighbors or at work, practice having conversations with people you feel more comfortable with. You could talk to a family member, your kids, or your husband. They don’t have to know you’re using them for practice. But listen to what they say, and notice how you respond and how the conversation flows when you are relaxed.

See you really can talk without being anxious! This proves it isn’t something you have all the time! :)

5. Watch how others do it. When you’re anxious, you forget what to do and this is the case with anxiety and talking too. You might think you don’t know when to make eye contact, or for how long, or when to speak, and when to listen, and so on.

I used to learn a lot about conversation by watching talk shows. I watched to see when the people made eye contact with each other and see the natural flow. I also would observe people in public when I could.

Watch, observe, learn…

6. Start small. if you have really bad anxiety about talking to people and aren’t ready to jump into full scale conversions, start small. Practice saying “Hi, how are you?” When you are in stores, or paying at the gas station, for example. You can practice making eye contact, smiling, and just saying something pleasant like this.

7. Keep it up. Whatever level you are at with talking and anxiety, practice, practice, practice. You have to learn to keep putting yourself out there until it no longer bothers you. Get out of your head and stop thinking about it. Try to practice every day or as often as you can with as many people as you can.

8. Easy does it. Remember, casual conversation is just that – casual. There are no “rules”, except to listen and be polite. No one expects you to give a Shakespearean speech. So take the pressure off yourself.

The most important part of any conversation is being a good listener. So listen to what the other person is saying. Realizing this takes so much pressure off you! You are not a circus monkey either, so remember no one expects you to perform!

9. Love yourself. You can’t hit it out of the park every time. If you’ve been flubbing your words or having anxiety and talking for any length of time, you can’t expect to be a great orator overnight.

Be compassionate to yourself for where you are in your recovery. Be so proud that you are working on this fear. Every interaction with other people is an opportunity to practice.

If you do get anxious when talking, especially in the beginning, don’t give up. Remember to love yourself and acknowledge that you are brave and making progress. As with everything related to anxiety recovery, inch by inch, it’s a cinch.

10. Remember- even when you are in a conversation, no one is really that focused on you. No one is scrutinizing your words and behaviors. The person you are talking to is into what he or she is saying. They aren’t thinking about you and harshly judging you - I promise. Anxiety makes you think they are, but the truth is, you are the only one really intently focused in on yourself.

11. Use good body language. Nonverbal communication speaks volumes. Let the world know that you are a calm, confident, happy person. Sit up straight, look people in the eye. Smile. Be interested in what is going on around you.

You can say a lot of yourself without saying a word. And- projecting this confidence will help you feel confident too!  :)

12. You’re not from outer space. Anxiety makes you think you’re the only one alive who feels the way you do, but it just isn’t true. Most people have experienced a little social anxiety when talking to other people. Most people are not super outgoing social butterflies.

You are not really any different than the average person. After spending many, many years of my life feeling like no one could ever be as weird and socially anxious as I was, I now know that I’m not so far off the mark when it comes to having an average personality.

Everyone has idiosyncrasies and things that make them different. Remember this.

I hope you enjoyed these Anxiety and Talking tips and put them into practice!

I wish you peace,
Jill G.

ps. - Recommended- “Master Small Talk”  is wonderful self hypnosis download to help you become more confident and master the art of conversation and building rapport with others. Click here to learn more.

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