Social Anxiety Tips

agreements occur between your children, try to listen
Dear Patti

Find the article below or by going to the magazine website

Social Anxiety
7 tips for reducing your
social anxiety and
improving your first
impression at parties
and networking events
none of them feels neglected
When attending or taking part in school events, try to do so
By: Patti Wood MA, CSP
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Street Journal, Forbes and 
Some of you may think of parties and mingling
opportunities and jump for joy whereas some
of you may think of punch and cookies and
meeting strangers and feel your palms begin to
sweat and your throat start to close. Here are fun and
helpful tips for feeling more comfortable at your next
party so you can change from a wallflower to a
“social butterfly.”

1. Go early rather than late. If you arrive before
other guests, it is easier to get acclimated. You can
stand with the host if you need courage or introductions.
You can even ask for an anxiety-distracting
task like taking everybody’s coats or asking if they
would like a drink. Nervousness comes out of your
body in many ways. One way is through your hands.
When your hands are confidently occupied with
useful tasks, that confidence message goes to your
brain and affects your entire body. It also gives you
an easily repeatable script, “Would you like me to
take your coat?” as a conversation opener.

2. Stand near the best smelling food. That is
where the people are. If the food is good, they will
think good things about you. Research says that
pleasant smells give rise to pleasant mood states and
persuasion research shows that when we feel good
we associate those pleasant feelings with the people
we were with when we felt them. Want to get a call
from someone you met at a party? Our sense of smell
is our strongest link to memory so someone you
meet near the good smelling food will be more likely
to remember you if they associate you with a good
smell. Food also gives you an easy conversation
opener. “Have you tried the crab dip?” “It’s great.” In
addition to this, holding and eating food, like taking
coats, gives you something to do with your hands.

3. Look for an Open Person. Having an open
body language makes you more approachable. Use
this information to look for people who you can
easily approach. Search for people who are intently
speaking to someone already. Spy the people who
have their feet slightly apart a few inches rather than
crossed, pressed together, or cowboy show of defensive
stance 14 inches apart. It is easier to approach
someone who is showing his or her palms as they
gesture and is smiling. If you are super shy, you can
Feeling anxious at the prospect of mingling with people is
quite common just go up and stand next to someone who
looks open and slowly mirror his posture. Research says
he is likely to start a conversation with you.

4. Go first….you can also introduce yourself. I
know I know, you’re thinking, "Patti, you are insane.
I hate to talk to people and you want me to initiate a
conversation!” “I’d rather stick a fork in my eye.” Put
down the fork. Research shows that when you
initiate you appear more confident to other people
and they immediately feel more at ease. In addition,
when they feel at ease, the comfort transfers to you.
Remember, two awkward people equal three times
the anxiety. In the classic movie, “Come Saturday
Morning” Liza Minnelli introduces herself with
charming tenderness to a shy boy on a bus.

5. Introduce people to each other. Again, you
have something to do, and goodness it takes the
pressure off you. You now say the younger person’s
name first to introduce them to the older person, say
the lower status person’s name first to introduce
them to the higher status person. Think bigwig’s
name is said last.

6. Ask a question and then relax and listen.
When I was in grad school and teaching at Florida
State I tried out for and got a part in a community
program. I almost lost my voice and I learned a lot
about listening. So much anxiety comes from not
knowing what to do or how to do it well. I can tell you
that the smartest thing you can do at a party is ask a
gentle question. It completely takes the talking pressure
off you. You don’t have to be witty and urbane
to be good listeners. And if “The Seven Habits of
highly successful people” is right, everybody loves a
good listener.

7. Nod your head. Nod your head. Women love
it. Men typically only nod their heads when they
agree, woman nod to show they are listening. Guys,
if you nod your head a lot, she will love you. Beware
of nodding your head at your female boss at the
office. Power people love it when you nod your head
too, but your boss might think you love them so
much you are willing for them to nominate you for
the office, “recycling waste committee for 2009.”

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at