Overcoming Social Anxiety: Small Talk and Making Friends

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Overcoming Social Anxiety: Small Talk and Making Friends

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

When you have social anxiety, the aimless chit-chat most people take for granted can be a particularly nerve-wracking part of daily life.

We’re a social species, so chances are that you have to spend a lot of time in the presence of others. You want to start a conversation with someone, but you’re too nervous. Then you get even more nervous because the silence is becoming awkward.

Your mind goes painfully blank, and then the same thoughts come up: “I’m too nervous to talk now. I’ll just end up saying something stupid, “ “They already think I’m weird,” or “People don’t like talking to me anyway. I’m too awkward.”

Since these thoughts have a way of making your anxiety worse, all you want to do is look for a way to get out of that uncomfortable situation as fast as possible.

Change Your Thoughts

You probably know that communication isn’t just talking. However, your anxiety and self-defeating automatic thoughts make you miss or miss-interpret social cues. The most effective treatment for social anxiety is a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and SSRIs. If you’re not comfortable taking SSRIs, you can start therapy sessions and try products like Sunday Scaries CBD gummies, which can help ease your anxiety.

CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is an important part of the treatment because it teaches you how to challenge these problematic thought-patterns that affect the way to interpret social cues and make you more likely to withdraw and avoid social situations.

Rules of Engagement

The main purpose of small talk is to show someone that you are open to the idea of talking to them at that particular moment. The way they respond is also meant to indicate whether or not they’re also in the mood to talk. It’s simply a tool to start a conversation.

Note that small talk is supposed to revolve around subjects anyone can talk about, like the weather, hobbies, recent events, etc. You don’t need to impress them through witty remarks or by showing how knowledgeable you are. Your interlocutors are not looking for that sort of conversation, and you’re just putting unnecessary pressure on yourself.  

What Should I Talk About?

As a general rule, weather, hobbies, sports, travel, entertainment, work, and family make ideal topics for small talk. If you talk about recent events in your community or news you’ve seen on TV, just remember to stay away from anything political since you don’t know this person, and you might end up in an unpleasant debate. You should also stay away from topics like money, religion, and sex. Just keep the small talk small. It only has to be mildly entertaining.

Behind the words, there’s an exchange taking place with the goal of learning more about the other person to see what you have in common. While talking, you give your interlocutor something that allows them to keep the conversation going through follow-up questions. In return, they will do the same for you. Let’s say they ask you how your weekend was. Saying it was fine doesn’t really help with the follow-up questions. Instead, you can mention something you did that you would like to talk about. Maybe you saw a good movie, or you started a book you enjoy.

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