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Here is a great article by Chris Brady, who always manages to take something potentially complicated and break it down into simple terms. Thanks Chris!
Everyone has experienced walking into a room of strangers and not exactly knowing what to do. Where do you sit? Who do you talk to? What do you do with your hands? Is everyone looking at you? What are they thinking?
These feelings of insecurity are natural, but they don’t have to be permanent. In fact, one of the worst things that can happen to your ability to relate to other people and to “fit in” is to be overly conscious about yourself and how you are coming across. Being self-conscious means being less “other-conscious.” This is bad, because it basically means you are too busy thinking of yourself to be thinking about the other people.
“But I am thinking about the other people,” you might say. “That’s why I feel so awkward in these situations.”
That may be true. But you’re thinking about how those other people are thinking about you, which isn’t really thinking about them at all. It’s really just another way of thinking about you, by thinking about what they are thinking about you. Get it?
There is a very helpful saying that goes something like this: You wouldn’t worry so much about what other people thought of you if you knew how seldom they did.
Remember that. It’s very helpful advice.
One of the biggest areas in which you can have a breakthrough in dealing with other people is to realize that everyone feels as if he or she is at the center of the universe. They are busier thinking about how they are coming across than they are noticing how you are coming across.
So here’s what you do with all of this. Here’s how you stand out in a world where almost everyone is self-focused and nervous too. Enter a room with your head held high, your eyes making contact with others, and a smile upon your face. Be the one who approaches other people and introduces himself first. Don’t wait for others to make the initial contact. You make it yourself. Play a little game in your head by pretending that the one who makes the initial contact first wins! Shake hands, give your name, and strike up conversations by asking others about themselves. People are infinitely interesting when you care enough to dig into who they are and what they are about. Try it. You will be shocked how effective these little steps are.
I mean it! Act comfortable even if you are not. Force yourself to behave in the proper way and eventually it will become a habit. No one will be able to tell that you are actually feeling a little nervous deep down inside.
There is a line in a rock song that says, “Charisma is the key to opportunity.” It may not be as simple as all that, but it’s not too far off the mark, either! The world seems to make way for a person who knows where he or she is going. And there is no better way to demonstrate confidence and a sense of direction than by being comfortable around other people. Learn the habits of good interaction with people, whether they be older, younger, or much different from you. Get good at being the initiator. And stop worrying so much about what other people are thinking about you. Trust me, if you do these steps often enough, they will think much more highly of you for doing so!