1. Start off small. Force yourself to take one tiny step and be around people who appear to be relaxed, confident and at ease with themselves. Limit the amount of time you spend with them at first so it doesn’t feel too threatening or overwhelming.
2. Realise that most people are not judging you. Most people are concerned about themselves, and the kind of impression they are making.
3. Find people who share your interests – perhaps think about joining a team, group or club. That tends to make conversation easier as you start off sharing some common ground.
4. Motivate and push yourself. Tell yourself that “you can do it”, then visualise yourself succeeding and having fun.
5. Understand that social phobia is something we can overcome with practice and a positive attitude. Feeling at ease around others is a learned skill. The more we do it, the easier it becomes, and the more confident we feel.
6. When making conversation, talk about things that other people are interested in. Often it’s easiest to begin with safe topics like music, movies, sports, school, fashion …. Once you know the people better you can talk about topics they mention frequently.
7. If you’re in a large group, just hang back and relax. Notice what others are saying and doing, and what tends to “work” with those particular people – then slowly try saying and doing the same kinds of things.
8. Don’t worry if conversation is hard for you, just focus on being someone who is warm and kind.