How to Reduce Your Social Nervousness: 3 Simple Steps

How to Reduce Your Social Nervousness: 3 Simple Steps

“Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.”
Benjamin Franklin

One very common question I've gotten over the years goes something like this:

“I always get nervous before a date/meeting/social gathering and that holds me back from being my true and best self and from doing and getting what I want. What can I do to overcome this?”

This is an issue that used to hold me back in the past and I've more experience with it than I would have ever wanted.

Back when I was still single I often got quite nervous before a date.

And before that, when I didn't have a date at all in a long time, I got nervous before most social situations.

It was no fun.

Things weren't hopeless though. And today I would like to share three small habits and steps that, simply put, totally changed my life.

Step 1: Slow down.

A few minutes before you step into the meeting, job interview or date that makes you nervous slow down.

Walk slower to the meeting place. Move slower.

Then stop.

Step 2: Breathe.

Stand still or sit down for a minute. And then just breathe. Take a little deeper breaths than usual.

Make sure you breathe through your nostrils and with your belly.

Focus on just your slow in-breaths and out-breaths for 1-2 minutes.

This will calm your mind and body down and make it easier to think clearly and normally again.

Plus, that singular focus on your breathing will draw you back into this moment instead of leaving you lost in the thoughts of past failures or destructive worries about your near future.

Step 3: Assume rapport.

Assuming rapport means that just before you met someone you pretend and think to yourself that you are meeting one of your best friends.

Doing this will allow you to naturally slip into a much more relaxed, comfortable, confident and enjoyable emotional state and frame of mind.

In this frame of mind the conversation and smiles tends to flow naturally, without much thinking.

Just like with your best friends.

It's, in my experience, a very simple habit to adopt but at the same time it's also an incredibly powerful habit for tapping into your best social self.

By using these three steps over and over they will become habits that are easy to use. And over time as you get good results in social situations the old normal of feeling nervous will be replaced by a new normal.

A normal where you're – at least most of the time – relaxed and confident in social situations because all your recent experiences put together have changed how you view yourself and what you expect on dates, in meetings and other such situations.


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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehacker, HuffPost and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • I’m not a great talker so when I would start talking to someone and there would be silence, I would get all nervous and put pressure on myself to think of something else to say. I would put so much pressure on myself, I would never think of anything. Now I just stay relaxed and know that a little silence isn’t the end of the world. All conversations have them.

  • Great article,
    hope you don’t mind if we share it on our blog.

  • I just discovered this blog. I’ll be adding you to my blogroll and coming back around.

  • Jessica

    Late leaving a comment but I wanted to give validity to # 3: Assume Rapport. This step has completely changed both my professional and personal life. I grew up painfully shy and struggled with being in social situations for the better half of my life. When I got hired as a Employment Counsellor and was expected to do a lot of public speaking, I thought I would die! A colleague of mine gave me this advice, along with “fake it till you make it”. It didn’t come naturally the first, second, third or even tenth time, but as I put this into practice, I gradually became more and more comfortable stepping outside of my comfort zone. I now use this in my everyday life, and have gone in the opposite direction where I probably assume too much rapport at times! Great tip and great article Henrik! Thank you! :)

  • Always ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen? And it’s always unrealistic and far-fetch, or never come to fruition. Being positive and optimistic keep it that way.

  • Shane

    I used to get nervous around people, but I realized that my awkardness/anxiety comes from me not focusing enough on other people. When it becomes about the people you are with, there is much more to talk about and less time or room for getting into your own thoughts/worries.

  • Great article. Your 3 tips are right on. I gave a presentation last week about how to be more comfortable in a business networking situation. What I would add is to Visualize a positive outcome. See yourself having fun during your date. See yourself acting with confidence during a meeting. This helps to connect the mind with the emotion and can be very calming.

  • Lynsey

    Another GREAT article…slow down…breathe…assume raport!!:-) thank you :-)

  • Assume rapport is the key!

    This applies to everything though. Let’s say that you’re about to give a speech. Assume that everyone think’s you’re the best thing in the world.

    Let’s say you’re about to talk to someone from the opposite sex. Assume that person is already thinking about throwing you to bed.

    Great post!

  • Rebecca Davis

    Dear Henrik,
    I have read your blog for a long time, without your inspiration you continually share, I would not have the same frame of mind. I love your blog, you go above and beyond in teaching life skills.

  • Navk.Pal

    2nd and third one are really great steps. I have applied in several situations, where i felt nervous and conscious. I guess third one is really applicable and practical. Thank You! again Henrik, Very Happy May to you.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you great advise and rem,Thank you inder to do the basics