The workplace is filled with situations in which negotiating complex social interactions is just as important as work itself. Be it dealing with a difficult colleague or attending a social event social interaction at work can be stressful. Social confidence is something that many people struggle with so we’ve prepared 4 tips to help you boost it:
- Fake it ‘til you make it. Faking it works. If you don’t feel confident you can trick yourself into believing you are by adopting a power pose (see our blog on posture). Stand up tall with your shoulders back and stretch your arms behind your head. This power pose releases testosterone and reduces stress hormones making you feel confident and relaxed .
- Question your assumptions. Does you find yourself analysing what someone thinks of you as you talk to them? People who are social anxious are more likely to attend to and remember the negative aspects of an interaction . “Did he just yawn because I’m boring?” If you find yourself thinking this type of thing after an interaction don’t let it slip by. Instead, ask yourself if that was the only reason. Could your colleague have yawned because he was tired? Don’t let your anxious self believe the assumptions it makes. Find the evidence for it and, if it’s not watertight, challenge it.
- Make the first move. Social confidence is a skill to be practiced like any other. If you are interested in getting to know someone better ask them for a coffee. We’re not talking about romantic interests, although it could apply, but maybe a colleague you want to get to know better. Being the person to suggest something social can be scary but it will give your confidence a boost if you do. They may not be able to go but if that’s the case don’t feel rejected (see point 2!). They will most likely feel flattered that you asked.
- Be interested in others. There’s nothing worse than a social interaction in which both parties want to engage but one leaves the other to ask all of the questions. Interacting this way comes across as rude as disengaged. When you talk to people ask them open questions about themselves or their opinions to show that you are interested in them. If you seem interested and open with other people they will more likely remember your interaction with pleasure and seek you out again in future.
It is up to you to judge what is appropriate in a social interaction but if you find your lack of social confidence is holding you back start with our tips and, remember, no-one is as confident as they seem on the outside.
1. Carney, D.R., A.J. Cuddy, and A.J. Yap, Power posing brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance. Psychological Science, 2010. 21(10): p. 1363-1368.
2. Amin, N., E.B. Foa, and M.E. Coles, Negative interpretation bias in social phobia. Behaviour research and therapy, 1998. 36(10): p. 945-957.