The fear of talking to people is one of those anxiety-based problems that give most problems to a large part of the population whose lifestyle requires frequent interaction with others.
This is an inconvenience that takes shape in everyday life, since almost any conversation with someone relatively unknown, however mundane, is likely to lead to nerve problems .
However, recognizing the existence of such a problem does not imply knowing how to solve it.
There are no magic recipes that make the discomfort disappear overnight, but there are techniques that allow structuring a learning process aimed at overcoming the fear of talking to people. Next we will see which are the basic guidelines to follow, although no reading can equal the result obtained by working with a psychology professional on each specific case.
How to overcome the fear of talking to people?
In order to better understand the steps to be taken to stop the nerves when talking to others, we must first take into account that each dialogue is unique.
What we want to change is the general pattern, which makes the fear of talking to others widespread; but we should not aim to make it impossible to feel fear or insecurity when being in someone’s presence . This idea, which seems so basic, is fundamental, and that is why it is necessary for us to have it throughout the whole process by re-analyzing everything that is happening to us, so that we do not get frustrated and give up.
With this in mind, let’s see what guidelines shape these tips to stop being afraid to talk to people. To notice the results, apply them in your daily life , and don’t expect significant results from the first hours; noticing the benefits usually takes several days.
1. Work on your self-concept
One of the components that come into play in this kind of anxiety problem is self-esteem. Specifically, self-esteem problems. However, this doesn’t have to mean that someone who feels insecure in a dialogue with someone thinks he is worth less than the other, or that he is less skilled in general.
The belief is that one has less conversational value ; that one’s words do not flow the same nor is the content of what is said as interesting as in the case of the interlocutor. This idea becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, since the insecurity it generates causes attention to be divided between what is done and said and the fear of what is done and said. The result leads to poor or disorganized speech.
That is why it is important to focus on one’s own strengths when facing a daily conversation. This does not mean focusing on experience or on the ability to speak fluently with strangers, since it is obvious that at the moment we do not have that quality; but we can look at what makes us capable of bringing interesting content into a conversation .
For example, if you have a university education or have extensive experience in a field of knowledge that you think may be interesting, remembering this and associating it with your identity will help you feel that you will relate to people with better equipment. The same can be said if you have a lot of experience about life because of your age , or if you are a very curious person and have already asked yourself many questions that others have not even thought of.
2. Notice the conversational floor
The vast majority of conversations do not have much substance. Learn to stop for a moment and analyse the literal content of what is happening in a normal, everyday dialogue that has nothing to do, for example, with the context of work: the crutches occupy a large part of the dialogue, the phrases aimed at showing respect and interest in the other do not fulfil any other function than to express kindness, and in general do not show great general culture or prodigious intelligence.
This kind of minimum level of demand that occurs in conversations, what we could call “conversational floor”. Being above this is practically like rehearsing for a bigger challenge that never comes, a kind of simple tutorial on how to interact with others through words. In general, no one wants to get too involved in every dialogue they have throughout the day, so neither should you.
However, if you are aware of this and you notice that you are stuck or blocked, this should not lead you to think that your mental abilities are negligible . This is simply a sign that where at first there seemed to be a sea of difference between you and others, there is only one very fragile barrier: anxiety. When this disappears, everything will be much more fluid.
3. Don’t memorize sentences, question
Memorizing phrases to use in a conversation is a trap where a lot of people fall into trying to make the fear of talking to people go away.
It doesn’t work precisely because it adds cognitively more demanding tasks than would be the case if it didn’t take them into account: the simple fact of thinking about when it is more appropriate to use one of these lines of dialogue is already very distracting. It can be useful if you already have a certain amount of fluency in your conversations, but not at the beginning.
Instead of using this resource, choose to focus on listening to what the other person says and build your participation in the dialogue by reacting to what you find interesting. This way you get a more natural participation from the beginning, as it would be in a dialogue where you don’t have any concerns, and you would have a way to face the conversation knowing that you don’t have to be the most talkative part, in exchange for making your interventions meaningful.
4. Learn to distance yourself
As we have seen, all conversations have a strongly conventional and predictable side . On many occasions, what someone says in 5 or 6 interventions can already be predicted from their first intervention, and all that comes afterwards are nuances. Similarly, there are also phrases that serve to imply that one is listening, that one agrees, etc. A real dialogue is very different from what would happen in most novels, or in films like those of Tarantino.
Being clear about this, and observing it, allows us to stay above this type of interaction, and see it as almost a theatrical representation in which there is little content, and very scattered through the phrases. This will serve to make some of the tension go away. Just as you understand why each person uses these seemingly irrelevant components despite contributing little, so will you do so without complexes as the fear goes away.