Many people who struggle with social anxiety feel that whenever they are in a social situation, there's a spotlight on them, so to speak. It's common to feel as if the people around you are paying attention to your every move, whether or not that is actually true. The truth is that in social situations, many people, including socially anxious people, are mostly focused on themselves. If we are mostly focused on ourselves (e.g., what we will say next, how we look, etc.), then the spotlight effect proves to be untrue. If the attention really is upon you, there are a number of ways to deal with it:

1. Shift the focus back to the other person by asking them about themselves. In general, people like to talk about themselves, and your questions will also demonstrate your interest in the relationship.

2. Ask open versus closed-ended questions. Open ended questions (e.g., "what do you think about Charlotte? versus "do you like Charlotte?") are much more likely to result in a longer response and a deeper conversation full of more opportunities to interact.

3. Invite the person to do some sort of activity that will take the attention off of the immediate conversation. For example, ask if they'd like to get some food from the kitchen, to look at the art on the walls, meet one of your friends, etc.

In general, try to adopt an attitude of curiosity and openness. Mentally say "yes" to every conversation topic that comes up, much like improvisers do on stage. Smile, and continue to demonstrate your interest in the other person.

If you're interested in learning more about working together, contact Charlotte Counseling and Wellness.

CCW offers innovative and evidence-based options for busy professionals. Charlotte is a bustling and fast-paced city where it’s easy to become stressed, overwhelmed, and anxious. By using the most cutting-edge therapies available, we help people improve the way they deal with everyday stressors and more complicated issues.

John Clarke