Although shy people and those with low self esteem often wish that their social performance was better, they don't know effective ways to improve their social skills.
I am familiar with this problem because I used to be terribly shy and have really low self esteem in the past. That is why I spent many years learning to overcome these problems.
One of the biggest problems that many shy people have, as well as those with poor self esteem is that in their minds they are harshly criticizing every aspect of everything they say.
Here is an example of the kind of inner dialogue that might be going on in the mind of a shy person or a person with low self esteem, while they are also trying to have a conversation with somebody else.
Gee, you're such a dolt. Everything you say is stupid. Why can't you do anything right. How do you expect to make any friends when everything you say is so stupid! Why can't you act confident when you are in front of other people? What's wrong with you? Why can't you think up anything better to say?
What's the problem with this kind of inner self criticism? The main problem is that it doesn't work. It doesn't improve anything. It is a very personal attack that shames the person who has to listen to it, and it doesn't offer any practical solutions to follow that could improve conversation performance.
Harsh criticism doesn't work as a way of improving conversation performance or conversation confidence. In fact, such criticism is often so debilitating that making conversation with someone else becomes impossible.
It can take time to retrain your mind to stop criticizing your conversations and start focusing on positive and practical ways to improve your conversation performance.
One way to short circuit the constant criticism in your mind is to tell yourself that your conversations are simply practice exercises and therefore they don't really count.
No matter what happens in a conversation, treat yourself kindly. If you have an attack of shyness or anxiety, don't put yourself down because of it. If you say something that is a bit silly, laugh it off and vow to do better next time.
Don't insist on being perfect in every single aspect of your behaviour.
Here is a review of actions to take to improve your conversation confidence:
- Absolutely refuse to criticize yourself as a person when you have awkward social conversations
- After your conversations, look for specific things you did well in the talk and give yourself credit for it.
- Tell yourself that each conversation is just practice, so it doesn't really count.
- Choose one specific conversational behavior to do better in the future.
- Take every opportunity you have to make conversation with other people and don't run away from social opportunities.
With more practice you can increase your conversation performance and confidence.