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Dear Diva Rebecca,
I have a question that I was hoping you could help me with. I tend to be shy around new people that I meet and I would really like to know of ways that I can be more outgoing or open up a little bit more. I always feel like I want to join into the conversations around me but never know what to say. I'm outgoing with my friends but at first I have a hard time starting up conversations and keeping them going with new people. Do you have any tips that I could use to help me become more outgoing? Thanks so much!
Fort Lauderdale, FL
You seem to have a little bit of social anxiety or nervousness which is very common. A lot of people experience this kind of shyness. Sometimes you don't know what to make of new people and so you tend to keep to yourself. Some people may think that you are actually a snob when in reality you are only just shy. This is an all too common misconception.
A good way to lick this problem is to use your imagination. I know this sounds silly but when you come across a social situation and you begin to feel uncomfortable because your surrounding peers are unknown to you, I want you to imagine that these men and women are actually your best friends. Pretend that you are simply having a conversation with your best girlfriend. When someone new begins a conversation with you, what would you have to say if this was your best buddy? Using this technique can take a lot of the anxiety away from your social play. Remember, you can potentially go overboard with this technique: you obviously do not want to launch into a conversation about the one night stand you just had last night like you would be more apt to do with your best girlfriend. You may be pretending that these new people are your current friends, but you must always realize who they really are.
Another way you can feel more comfortable is to remember to smile. As prosaic as this may sound smiling has a way of relaxing everyone in the room. You should always smile and keep smiling when you meet new people. During those times you are experiencing a little bit of that anxiety you spoke of, you probably lost your smile and develop lines across your forehead. When you maintain this perplexing look of despair people may be labeling you a snob and you may have no idea that you are doing it. You can also assume that there are a few other people with you that could be in the same exact situation, they could be just as nervous and anxious as you are. It is that common of a problem. You will look and seem more approachable when you keep those pearly whites showing. New people will be drawn to you and will be more willing to engage in conversation with you.
Another problem the social stressor may encounter is being trapped into a conversation with one person and not knowing what to say. Those long awkward silences can be terrifying and embarrassing. If both of you are standing there looking around the room and not sure of what to say, you can safely assume that you both are suffering from a little bit of nervousness. Any easy way around this particular problem is to start asking that person questions about him or herself. This keeps the other person talking while you have time to gather your wits. It is easy to answer questions about yourself so this person should be able to carry on the conversation for a little while. Remember, everyone's favorite topic of conversation is: themselves. Ask him or her why they are at that particular function, who they are there with, what they do for a living, where they went to college, where they grew up, how many children they have, etc. etc. Anyone should be more than happy to dive into their life history for you. And once a good conversation starts, you will eventually think of things to add yourself.
Not everyone will agree with me, everyone has their own opinion.|
What would your advice be?
Be respectful and courteous. Rude remarks and slander of any kind will be removed.