Knowing how to talk to people when you have social anxiety disorder (SAD) can be a problem. Chances are good that even after receiving treatment you may find that you are behind your peers when it comes to social skills.
Part of the problem with SAD is that you have likely spent much of your life avoiding talking with other people. The end result is that, even when you have control of your anxiety, you may still not be sure how to behave in social situations.
With time and new experiences, social situations can gradually get easier. But there are also tips and tricks that you can use to speed up your learning curve and build social skills. One such tip is offered by Dr. Ann Laverty, Ph.D., in an article presented by the University of Calgary counseling centre.
If you find that you are uncomfortable having conversations with others, try talking while doing an activity together.
Laverty recalls always being more comfortable talking with her father while doing yard work together. She notes that "adding activity to conversation helps things flow and gives you something to talk about."
This tip is great advice if you have received treatment for SAD, or if you're just overly shy. For those with severe anxiety symptoms, it is important to first receive adequate treatment for your social anxiety. Without proper treatment, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or medication, social skills strategies aren’t likely to be effective.
So the next time you find yourself at a loss for words with someone, suggest an activity that you can do together. Take a walk together, attend an exercise class, play a sport or board game, or go shopping. Doing these activities will help to stimulate conversation and keep your mind focused on interacting with the other person.