How to be more confident in social settings.
I was asked to write about being more confident especially in social situations. I have shared a few key points in this piece that over the years have come to be the foundation to a lot of the confidence coaching I do, as well as social anxiety recovery group work with StepOut Ireland Cork and Dublin.
Whether your introvert, quiet, experience social anxiety or are the life and soul of the party, need to get drunk or high to engage people; confidence in social settings always begins by playing to your authentic strengths and focusing on what you bring to the situation.
Every role is required, when you enter a social setting or group whichever place you take is valid, even if you or others don’t value it. And that’s where it gets interesting, we often have judgements about how we “should” be in groups or what is valuable or better and due to that we de-value valid roles we play in groups.
To build confidence it is vital that you start to see that your role is relevant in the group, even if you wish you were doing it differently, it is still valid even if you do not value it, it is still valid. It is so important to value what you are bringing and adding, instead of criticising or judging how you do it.
Confidence comes from practice, you do something and then become more confident in doing it. However, if every time you do something such as speak up in a group or not and you beat yourself up for how you’re doing it, you can’t build up your confidence because there is always a criticism following.
Equally if you do not respect how you already do it (social interactions) and how this way truly serves you, then you miss the wisdom in the way you do things and miss the opportunity for compassionate understanding.
Confidence needs to begin with how you respond to what you say and do or don’t do. It begins with you accepting your own valid way of doing things, even if they aren’t giving you the results you want.
When you really embrace how you do things you can use a couple of feel good practices to give yourself a boost. These might look something like listening to music you like before going into social situations, having a plan that supports you in being there, going with a friend, having a chat with someone who you feel really valued by, practicing mindfulness, reassuring yourself on the way, watching YouTube clips that put you into the right frame of mind and so on. Everyone I have worked with finds their own unique way to support themselves, whether we did it in coaching or in group work.
Confidence isn’t something you “should” have about anything, it’s something that is reassuring and helpful at times but you aren’t doing anything wrong simply because you don’t feel confident. You aren’t entitled to it, we develop it at different rates in different areas through different barriers and facilitators.
Lots of things impact confidence from inexperience to experience, a sense of safety and belonging to not. Confidence in social situations starts in the individual and not in the group. Although it has often been impacted originally in group settings, we can’t manage it out there, we need to manage it within us first. If we go into groups on high alert to how others perceive us and everything we are doing wrong, instead of on how we want to feel and what we can do about our needs we really working against ourselves.
You have learned to be in groups in certain ways and with good reason, this may be your opportunity to unlearn and relearn a more satisfying way to do it for you. It starts with what is happening within you in groups and social situations, then and only then can you really feel and act confidentially. Inside out.