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JIMSTER has written 12 entries about this goal
I put myself really out there and volunteered to chair the monthly staff meeting which consisted of about 25 people. It wasn’t too nerve-racking, as I vaguely knew most of the staff and I simply followed the items on the agenda and listened and made contact with the chief exec and staff to make sure that they had finished their comments before I moved on to to the next item. I did find I was sometimes staring too much at my sheet and sometimes not making enough eye contact and felt a little bit wooden with my delivery but despite these few things I felt I had performed the role as chair reasonably effectively for a first-timer. After the meeting I asked some of my collegues for feedback and most of them said the meeting was succinct and that I did well though I suspect this may have meant that they don’t particuliarly like staff meetings so the quicker it’s over the better.
Well, I knew that there would be a lot of people there that I knew as I used to work there. I was a little worried that it was going to be a really cliquey group as I didn’t really have much in common with the bunch that I thought might be there.
I gave Thom Yorke’s solo album ‘The Eraser’ to my friend and he was absolutely chuffed as he is a big Radiohead fan and has seen them live in Edinburgh. This acted as a great opening to the evening as it gave me a chance to be distracted from my worries. Most of the differcult-for-me-to-talk-to people who I had assumed would be there weren’t there. I was briefly introduced to some of the new people, I ended up talking a lot to my friends’s girlfriend who was doing an intensive conducting course and my curiousity lead me to ask abit more about her job as a professional musician and what kind of music she would go and see.
There was a few social props such as this ‘office dare’ book that helped open up conversations.
My friend, as usual, was doing a lot of bantering with the rest of the crowd, whereas I felt most comfortable talking one-on-one to people. The rest of the evening I spent talking to one of my friend’s friends who’d was also at the BBQ. She was telling me about the time that she worked at this huge Santa’s Grotto in Sydney. She had hilarious stories about how sleazy the organisers (and dad’s) were and how they made all the helpers wear short skirts. We talked about tattoo’s and piercings and she showed me her tattoo’s of birds on her right side that she got done in australia.
So by the end of the night I think I’d spoken to most of the people there. Felt relaxed through the whole evening, didn’t really banter and left the evening feeling one step closer to not being anxious at social gathering and felt I had made some new friends.
I used to work with him and I know he’s workmates too. It’s very much a crowd of ‘banterers’ so I’m going to do my best to keep a cool head and try to bounce the banter back even though I don’t do banter. Again, my friends, this will also be a test for me. I’m going to try my best to be relevant, be genuine, be in the moment, relax and have fun.
Practice makes perfect. I am wondering how true this is for me.
Every time I throw myself into a new situation I am working with this belief but a lot of the time the way I feel when I leave these situations is that I am really bad at them and that I can never improve my social agility.
Especially with conversational skills I tend to get into habits of asking generic questions. But not only that, I tend to not engage with peoples emotions, more with cold hard facts. Like what do you do? (for a living) or Is it hard to set up a business? What is China like these days, I heard things are changing quite quickly over there even though there’s not so much infrastructure?
I was listening to my girlfriends conversation whilst at a ‘meeting your neighbours’ BBQ last night and she was doing a commentary of what the cat must be thinking when the owner goes away on holiday. The cat saying things like ‘C’mon girls it’s time to have a party!’ The other guests were all throughly entertained. With me I felt like I had completed a fact and opinion-finding mission about the local area and that by the end if the night I knew that some of the people there dealt with property, another was an accountant, another was a french and latin teacher. My girlfriend found out where everyone was going for their holidays and also told them that we are going to go to the Lake District and Prague for two long weekend breaks this summer.
So even though my girlfriend was at first quite apreshensive about meeting our neighbours, by the end of the evening she had made loads of friends whilst for me I felt like i knew a bit more about the social economic state of China, everyones occupation and that I could eat three pieces of chicken, a beef burger, 2 chipolatas, 2 barbecued spare ribs, 2 pieces of quiche in quick succession without feeling sick.
I went to a BBQ this weekend with my girlfriend after watching the England vs Portugal match which provided me with another great social situation to test my social mettle.
So with feelings of disenchantment we jumped onto the tube and headed to my sister’s house. It was a nice day for it, lovely weather and a very mixed crowd of people, people I knew through my sister, new people who were friends of the other flatmates and her other flatemates who’d I’d met before and later on some friends of mine that knew my sister. So this time there were a lot of people I knew so it was effortless to engage with people, my girlfriend found it hard this time. Some people there I found conversations didn’t go beyond the fact that they were a mother-of-two, they worked with the host (my sister’s boyfriend), and were lucky to have a husband who didn’t like football (the Italy France game was on). Others were simple exhanges of pleasantries, the people I knew I simply caught up with. My girlfriend eventually found her niche amoungst a group of girls going on about how they end up going out with bastards.
Later on a few other people I knew turned up – I was on a roll. A good friend of mine, his girlfriend and a female friend of his. I hadn’t met his girlfriend before but my friend had told enough about her and vice-versa for us to get on well. This for me was great as again things seemed seemless as the ice has already been melted so to speak.
Even later on a girl who seemed drunk-for-the-first-time drunkenly joined our group apologising how drunk she was reminding myself of a past gone era of bad ice-breakers I had unsuccessfully used as a teenager. Though it was very brave of her to stumble into our group the way she did as collectively we where a well cultivated group of cynics.
By the end of the night my girlfriend had joined another group and was winding up a group of lads about how rubbish their football team was which is also another way to break the ice.
The night went ok despite a few hitches. We turned up at this strange nightclub in central london where there was a live band in the middle of the hall playing loud bossa nova, rainbow coloured lights and loads of people up and dancing to it – some more erratically than others. This is strange for a wednesday night though it might be a case of me needing to get out more.
One of my eyes had gone red so I removed one of my contact lenses and I’d been suffering from a sore throat that meant I couldn’t barely talk. I am not a great conversationalist at the best of times but I am by far the least shy in my family. The guy whose birthday it was, was naturally gifted at chit-chat, and so was his family. I know I shouldn’t compare and it just made it a lot harder knowing this but facts are facts.
Anyway, as soon as we met up with them, my girlfriend changed gear and immediately struck up a conservation with complete strangers whilst I’m standing there with a new group of people, one-eyed and croaky voice trying to unsuccessfully explain to everyone how I can’t talk. However I did get in a few words edgeways with one of the girls who I actually know her brother and she showed me pictures on her phone of her and her 1-week old baby niece. The baby appeared to be smiling for the photo and had a knowing glint in her eye.
Even though I’m used to talking amongst small groups of people, with larger groups of new people I tends to find it difficult to switch to the same wavelength from scratch. I think it’s a personality thing that attracts people to each other, and even though am quite a happy person I didn’t feel like I expressed my self fully and that my personality limits who I feel comfortable talking with. By the end of the evening I felt ambivilent and that no one would have missed me had the ground swallowed me up. But despite this and the fact that other people are naturally gifted conversationalists and that even a one-week old baby has more charisma than me I feel a obliviously strong resolve to overcome this fear as even speaking to a few new people coherently is one big step for me.
I am going out with my girlfriend to a friend-of-a-friend’s birthday. I’ve met some of this group before but didn’t find much to talk to them about. This will be a test to see how I’ll get along now that I feel a little bit more comfortable with myself.
It’s just a case of being bold without being arrogant or too self-conscious.
I met up with one of my friends in North London who wanted me to do him a favour. He was late so I met his friend who had been waiting for him too. I started talking to her about small things. My friend eventually turned up with a heavy suitcase and we all got chatting. We talked about flatmates from hell and i told them a story about my girlfriend’s friends nightmare after only two weeks of moving in with her flatmates. We talked about selfish flatmates, baby pets that almost got run over, domesticated cats that have no sense of balance and how I knew someone whose old domesticated cat died from falling out of the window, about a cashew nut stuck in someones lung and pelvic x-rays of mustard bottles.
We talked about racial tensions in parts of eastern australia between the australians and the lebanonese there. Also the recent racial tensions between the different communities in Birmingham. Which regional accents we liked in men and women, how Fife was a bit of a wasteland, how the Strawberry beer we were drinking was pureed as opposed to other fruit beers. We talked about how cheap and convienent Ikea furniture was. We talked about buying-a-round etiquette and also how flats in Scotland sometimes don’t have central heating which you’d normally take for granted and how horrible it is having your bedroom facing an A-road. So we moved through quite interesting subjects.
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