Society operates according to its own rules when it comes to social interaction. Regardless of how we would like things to function, we, nevertheless, must tailor our approach according to a protocol that has been thousands of years in the making.
And what if we dont conform? Well, Ive personally tried the rebel approach and did my own thing while ignoring the rules. The result was a very lonely, anxious, depressed existence.
It doesnt matter who you are: Act in an unsociable manner, and you will be ostracized by the rest of society. The unfortunate thing for me (and anyone who suffers from social anxiety disorder), is that it is not a conscious effort to be anti-social. I dont walk out of the house each day, intent on ignoring people and keeping to myself. I am this way because of my intense shyness.
People are very two dimensional when it comes to social interaction. They warm up to someone who is smiling, friendly, making eye contact, and outgoing. If they dont get this, it makes them uncomfortable and less likely to interact positively with that person. Quick, negative assumptions are made – assumptions that may never be turned around.
This, in turn, is picked up by the social anxiety suffer and they become even more withdrawn, anxious, and unsure of themselves. Its a very quick negative, downward spiral that Ive experienced countless times.
You cant blame people; they are simply following societys protocol. There is no way that you can communicate the fact that you are suffering from this condition.
The only time I did not experience this phenomenon, is when I was interacting with someone that had an extraordinary amount of self-esteem and confidence. Their skin was thick enough to allow them to carry on in a friendly manner despite the fact that I appeared cold and miserable. They could get by this initial look I had. The result was that I reacted positively to their feedback and, thus, I was able to relax and return a smile, eye contact, and friendly attitude. This was that same downward spiral in reverse.
Im no psychologist, but I did take notice of the lessons in human behavior being laid out in front of me. I could see what worked and what didnt.
Since then, Ive tried a few experiments of my own to backup my suspicions. In every instance, people reacted favorably to my friendliness. In every instance, they were much more reserved and standoffish when I did not smile, avoided eye contact, and said very little.
The good news is that you dont need to have a polished technique to get favorable results. You dont have to be clever, witty, and funny. It doesnt even matter what you talk about. What does matter is how you come across. I can tell you that Ive said the dumbest things, but got a good reception because I was smiling, making eye contact, and just being friendly.
To tell you the truth, I wouldnt care if a few people thought I was goofy. Its better than getting a cold reception from everyone else.
Hey, if you cant relax and laugh at yourself once in a while¦