Speaking up, participating and engaging in large group settings can be challenging for anyone, but for those who suffer from low self-esteem—whether it’s tied to their acne scars or another internal struggle—this type of social interaction can be even more difficult. Although it isn’t easy, I believe having social skill in group settings is one of the most important reasons to strengthen your self-esteem and self-confidence.
I’ve dedicated this week’s blog post to sharing a few pieces of tried-and-true advice for increasing self-esteem and self-confidence in large social situations:
Become an Active Listener
Instead of staring at the clock waiting for the event, social gathering or meeting to end, focus to the conversation and become an active listener. Active listening is an ideal skill for those who feel insecure about verbally engaging in large group settings because it involves non-verbal communication skills, too. Simple actions you can take to become an active listener include:
- Pay attention. This one isn’t as obvious as it might sound. Before you enter a group setting, put your distractions aside, like your cell phone or notes from an earlier meeting. Really listen to the conversation, and make a conscious effort to avoid letting distractions or activities nearby interrupt your focus.
- Body language. Ease yourself into group interactions by occasionally nodding your head, making eye contact, smiling and using appropriate facial expressions (based on what’s being discussed). By using these non-verbal cues, you’ll be seen as someone who is engaged in the conversation.
Add to the conversation by asking questions. Most people love to talk about themselves and will welcome the gesture. Asking questions will not only help you become more relaxed during verbal interactions, it will also increase your overall confidence in group environments.
Do Some Prep
Don’t worry, I’m not recommending that you prepare for your next social gathering by bringing note cards or studying in advance. However, I do suggest that you do a bit of mental prep before entering another large social situation—whether it’s part of your personal or professional life.
This can be as simple as thinking about who you’ll be seeing, and coming up with 1-2 questions that might be an easy way to engage. If you’re already familiar with the group members, consider asking about their plans for an upcoming holiday, how their kids are doing or how their job is going. If you don’t know them, ask them about where they’re from and how they ended up where they are today. If you know you have something in common, like a favorite sports team or mutual friend, feel free to leverage that, too. Even if you don’t end up asking these questions or using the speaking points, knowing that you took time to mentally prepare yourself will help you feel more at-ease when you get to the meeting or event.
For more advice on overcoming self-image issues and building self-esteem, check out the blog post I published earlier this month.