Perhaps the most common reason given for avoiding people is what I like to call conversation fear. Quiet people use this excuse all the time not realizing that apparently confident people also have fears to deal with, the only difference being that more socially active people build confidence and learn to control fear through practice, trial and error, and by sheer determination.
Sensitive to criticism
Of all the fears that stop people speaking up fear of criticism is probably the most prevalent. We fear criticism so we conclude its better not to say anything but unfortunately when you don’t speak up you may be criticized or ignored for not speaking. So you see a certain level of criticism is unavoidable, the key is to decide how you handle it because you cannot completely avoid people who will voice critical opinions of you and your viewpoint. Remember, what others say may be right or they may be wrong so doing automatically see all criticism as valid and worth responding to with a justification.
Are you overly sensitive to criticism? Do you realize that everyone has to deal with criticism? Remember to ask yourself: is this criticism valid or invalid?
Fear of rejection
Everyone can relate to the fear of rejection. Yes, even those confident and successful people you admire secretly worry about rejection. It’s not a concern that’s exclusive to quieter people so regard this fear as a normal characteristic we all share as part of our basic nature.
A better way to look at meeting people is to look for a match that is to look for people you have something in common with instead of wanting to be liked by everyone. This one shift in attitude takes a lot of pressure off and allows you to accept that there will be matches and non-matches and it’s all perfectly normal, and as you improve your conversation skills you’ll have more matches, even so, never expect 100%.
Do you fear rejection like everyone does? Could you focus on finding matches instead? Could you approach someone (who also fears rejection) and be good company?
Poor selection of social events
Poor event selection is a way of setting yourself up for failure before you even open your mouth to introduce yourself. If you habitually go to social gatherings where you know no one and you have little or no interest in the activity your starting point is likely to be one of boredom, disinterest and an obvious lack of connection with whoever you meet. Even very skilled conversationalists will find such an environment to be challenging. Again, be kind to yourself and choose more carefully when you have a choice of where to go and who to socialize with. Pursue your passions, go to events with your kind of people and you’ll be starting with your best foot forward and an eagerness to talk to likeminded people about common interests.
Do you often go to events you have little interest in? Could you make a point of choosing events you’d enjoy attending and trust you’ll meet like-minded people with shared interests? Could you see social gatherings in a positive light when you take charge of what to attend and who to meet?
Poor selection of people
This final issue is the matter of choosing the wrong targets. If you randomly approach and talk to anyone at a social event you’ll get random and often poor results when it comes to getting a good conversation flowing. Many people will do this when they feel nervous and rush to talk to someone, to talk to anyone, rather than feel self-conscious standing there alone in a crowded room.
It’s far better to take a moment to scan the room, look at who is available and choose the most likely best match to talk to. i.e. someone who looks happy, friendly, relaxed and of a similar background to you. When you become more selective about who to talk to your success rate will improve dramatically and over time as your skills improve you’ll have a wider range of people you can confidently approach. The key is to take charge of the situation rather than hoping for the best and acting out of fear and nervousness.
Remember, very few people feel completely comfortable approaching people they don’t know so don’t regard nerves as a sign you are ineffective or failing. It’s perfectly natural to feel some excitement, just turn that into movement before you get stuck to the spot and caught up in over analysis of the situation. If you delay you’ll find so many reasons not to approach someone that fear will take over, you’ll revert to talking to whoever is nearby and end up forcing a conversation that has no future with someone who is a mismatch for you.
Do you often avoid approaching people and hope no one notices how awkward you feel? Do you know it’s perfectly normal to have nerves, even for socially active people? Could you make a point of choosing good potential matches and focus on only approaching those people?