What advice would you give a shy person to be more confident in talking to people?

47 replies
Do you feel butterfly in the stomach when talking to a stranger, especially in networking sessions? Have you overcome this fear? If yes, how did you manage to overcome it?

For me, I try telling myself these people are just as nervous as I am. It's all about who is the best actor.

Cheers~

Mark
#advice #confident #give #people #person #shy #talking
  • Profile picture of the author Captcha
    Mark you've already seen 4 rounds of the Face-off which answer this
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  • Profile picture of the author guyster
    Hi mark,

    One thing i'd suggest is that don't wait to approach people only when you network. Part of overcoming your fear (which includes shyness) is to approach anyone anytime of the day with random acts of kindness.
    For example, when traveling on a bus, say good morning/afternoon/evening to the bus driver. Offer your seat to another person if you like.
    At a supermarket, smile and say hi to the checkout girl/guy and ask them how their day is.
    Even at your work environment complement people on their achievements, what they are wearing etc.
    The whole point of this exercise is to train you to come out of your shy shell and interact with strangers on a daily basis by giving them random complements -but to mean it at the same time.
    This will eventually build up your courage and confidence and you'll soon find that you wont have a problem networking with anyone anywhere and anytime you like.

    Now go socialize ;-)

    regards

    Guy
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  • Profile picture of the author SelfGrowth
    1. Do not let your fear of any social interaction get the better of you.
    2. Try to get out of your comfort zone and cultivate new friendships.
    3. Determine the root of your shyness and take steps towards conquering your fear of interacting with other people.
    4. Ask the help of a friend if you need to so that you can cure shyness.

    I have a ton of great articles on my site - SelfGrowth.com. Check the topics or search for overcoming shyness.
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  • Profile picture of the author Cmizer
    Hey Mark,

    One tip I have that will dramatic improve confidence and convey a high self worth to others:

    From now on wherever you go, whoever you talk to. Practice conscious eye contact. If you meet someones eyes DO NOT look away until they do. If you're having a conversation look the person deep into their eyes and do not stray.

    It may not sound like much, but from my own experience the positive results are amazing. It's habit for me now and it's incredible how much respect it demands. Also be conscious of your physiology. Hold your head a little higher, stand and sit straight, make slower movements, breath in your chest and smile to convey you are confident with yourself. You will see inner and outer results quickly and feel great about yourself!
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  • Profile picture of the author markfoo76
    Hi Cmizer,

    That's excellent! I will start practising conscious eye contact from now on. Yes, it may not sound like much. But what usually work are things that are really simple, though not necessarily easy.

    Thanks so much for the tip!

    Cheers~

    Mark
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    • Profile picture of the author bellis160
      Mark,

      This is what worked for me. I had a terrible problem. I wasn't able to look a person in the eye and having to talk to strangers almost made me vomit.

      1. Take a job in direct sales. It was hell but it was worth it.

      2. Take a class in public speaking. I consider this the most important class I took in college. It taught me how to keep proper eye contact with other people and how to look and feel comfortable while speaking.

      3. Make it a habit to introduce yourself in social settings.

      The more you make yourself do the thing you fear the most, the easier it gets. Until one day the fear no longer has any power over you.

      Good Luck.

      Steve Bellisle
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  • Profile picture of the author Igor Kheifets
    Hey Markfoo,

    There is a very simple way for you to overcome
    your fear of talking to strangers.
    What you need to do is lay the focus of
    yourself and put all of it on them.
    Just ask questions, constantly. That way they
    will do most of the talking and also you will be
    high value in their eyes because of the fact that you
    genuinely intersted in what they have to say..

    ~Igor
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  • Profile picture of the author jayden.fellze
    Practice makes perfect. The more you go in front of the crowd the better it is to exercise your confidence. Being nervous is normal, but somehow you just have to enjoy the moment and at the end your audiences will as well appreciate it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Shariyf Clark
    Cmizer, you hit the nail on the head.

    Your physiology has a direct effect on your state of mind. Change your posture and you changed your state of mind, which is the fastest way of generating confidence. Notice I said generating not gaining. You already have all the confidence you need within you. It's all a matter of accessing that confident state of mind.

    Just off the top of my head, I can give you 5 things right now that you can do right now to place you in a state of confidence:

    1. Spend time making eye contact with yourself in the mirror, and then with others. The more you do this, the more you will be able to generate and exude confidence when communicating with others. If you're a guy, practice looking women in their eyes until they look away. Ladies, do the same to men.

    2. Fix your posture. Stand up straight, roll your shoulders back a bit, lean back slightly and stand there for 2-3 minutes. This will feel extremely awkward at first but the more you do this, the easier it will be for you to access and hold this powerful stance. Practice this when you are getting ready in the morning, when you are standing in line waiting for something and any other time when you are standing and waiting to do something.

    3. This one has nothing to do with physiology but it helps: playful verbal abuse with a close friend. I know, it sounds really weird, but breaking balls is one of the fastest ways to not only gain confidence but will allow you start to automatically thinking on your feet, and after some time, you won't even care what other people may be thinking, which leads me to the next step

    4. Stop mind reading. Perhaps you're shy because you're mentally preoccupied with what YOU think others may be thinking about you. The truth of the matter is what YOU think another person is thinking, and what another person is actually thinking may be waaaaaaaay off. Pay attention to your thoughts when you're about to approach someone or when you're in the middle of a conversation. When you find yourself assuming what another person may be thinking, shift your attention to what they're saying, they're tone of voice and their posture.

    5. Last but not least, make fun of yourself and have a good time with this. You're a shining star baby. Let the world see you shine!
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  • Profile picture of the author nota-bene
    I was taught a wonderful technique a long long time ago....just imagine everyone naked!

    Now I don't mean stand in the corner with a perverted grin on your face, but if you imagine them naked it is a good way to ease the tension inside of you, and to see that they are, like you, just people...nothing to be afraid of!
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  • Profile picture of the author josspam
    Have you tried imagine them naked?? hahaha
    naaaaaaaa that never workS!

    What you say it's correct remember that most people are as shy as you are and eventually you'll get more practice and overcome fear... REALLY!

    It's just a matter of practice.

    Jocy
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  • Profile picture of the author redstapler
    get drunk.

    Haha. seriously, that's a bad idea, but a little booze always helps me overcome any shyness.
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  • Profile picture of the author drwhogoesthere
    I used to be really shy and it was keeping me back from doing a lot of things and meeting a lot of people.

    So I decided that if I wanted to succeed in this world I needed to take action.

    So I asked myself this question, "what would be the worst thing that could happen if I talk to this person?" They could say no or ignore me but at least then I knew where I stood with them. Plus their attitude and responce has nothing to do with me. Thats just who they are.

    That then left me open to talking to somebody else that may be nicer.

    It also meant that I wasn't standing there wondering what this person was like and never knowing.

    With this this in mind I opened up and started approaching more people to talk to. I have been ignored, abused, and even told where to go by some people. However that was their problem and they were just rude people.

    I have also met some great people with a positve attitude, friendly, caring, giving, funny and helpful. So the risks were worth it.

    I could still be a wallflower and not talk to anybody. I'm just glad than I'm not.

    So think to yourself, "where will I be i I don't do this?" Then think, "Where will I be if I do do this?"
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    • Profile picture of the author GT
      Hi, Mark:

      Other forum members have already said it well, and I agree with much of what has been said. Here's a few things:

      - Don't focus on the fear or nervousness; try to think of something else.

      - Practice! The more you do it, the more confident you become.

      - Humor: appropriate humor can lighten the atmosphere. But it must be relative and appropriate.

      - If possible, know your topic well. The more you can spout off about it without having to "think" about every word, the more confident you will feel.

      GT
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  • Profile picture of the author don21stc
    Hi,
    When I was a teenager and into my twenties, I was so painfully shy, I was even embarrassed about being shy which obviously made it worse. But I also noticed that people seemed to like me and a reasonable number of girls actually thought I was sweet - because of my shyness! So every cloud has a silver lining.
    But at the same time, I coudn't understand how I could get into a boxing ring and have a fight with someone in public but then be afraid of meeting someone else who was only going to talk to me, not hit me! So shyness has no logical foundation in my opinion. You're certainly not in anyway inferior to the other person
    I believe that every characteristic has got a positive as well as negative aspect to it. Being shy probably means you're a good listener which means you'll also have acquired a lot more knowledge than extrovert people which inevitably you'll be able to use to your advantage later.
    An innovative and well loved British comedian of 40 years ago said that he was so shy as a boy and young man that he didn't dare open his mouth until he was 26 but he became very famous as an original observational comedian and was part of Britain's most iconic radio show ever.
    Like another Warrior, I also think that humour and being entertaining in general can help people's shyness because you perhaps regard yourself as being a different person. It's widely reported than many entertainers are in fact very shy but can hide themselves behind a microphone singing someone else's words, or maybe as a comic telling well rehearsed jokes, or even sportsmen and women.
    But perhaps partly because of being shy, but more likely for other reasons, I developed an alcohol problem and as redstapler advised (above) getting drunk is a great cure for shyness although I wouldn't advise taking it to the extremes that I did! Nvertheless, that's mainly what I think cured me. Then I gave up drinking!

    Finally, I don't subscribe to imagining people naked - I think that many young men do that anyway if the object of their attentions should happen, purely unintentionally of course, to provoke such thoughts but otherwise, I think it's a non-starter, particularly when you consider some of the specimens you're likely to meet.
    However, a teacher at my school once told me when I was going for a tough interview, to imagine that my pompous interrogator was going to the bathroom while he was talking to me! I've often used that technique since - it certainly banishes any feelings of inferiority or disadvantage you may have!
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    • Profile picture of the author julclark
      You might find joining a Toastmaster's club to be helpful. In case you are not familiar with them, these groups give you an opportunity to work on your public speaking skills in a supportive environment. The group will give you feedback on your eye contact, body language, voice tone, etc., so you will get an idea of how other people perceive you. You may be pleasantly surprised to find out that you come across as more confident than you feel. The more you practice speaking to people whether one-on-one or in a group, the more comfortable you will be.
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  • Profile picture of the author Coach Ramy
    Fear just boils down to DOING the very thing that you're afraid of, every single time until you conquer it...At least that's what I do Try reading: "Feal the Fear and Do It Anyway"...Truly awesome read
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  • My advice would be...
    Do not concentrate on the final outcome but the process.

    Or in other words, do not pay attention to whether this person will become your best friend, just enjoy the conversation and have fun.

    Another thing would be to not worry about what people thinking about you.
    Anyway you can not please everyone, even if you want, right?

    You are not born with these communication skills, you learn them... like any other skill. So exercise can help.
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  • Hi Mark,

    Remember that you have a lot to offer to your networking group. You know information that can mean a world of difference to many people. Instead of telling yourself self-limiting ideas that keep you from sharing your wonderful knowledge, focus on finding people who want to know how to solve a problem you know how to solve.

    For example, suppose you know how to show people in your networking group how to write really great e-mails that engage others. Before you go to the networking group, print out copies of a simple process others can follow to solve their problem. As you focus on intentionally additing value to others AND expect that a miracle will happen, it will happen.

    For you, the miracle is that you'll feel calm, confident and a bit more outgoing when around new people or in social situations. Expect that to happen and intentionally reach out with your great information. This will help you develop confidence!

    Take care,
    Susan
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    • Profile picture of the author DrMeg
      Originally Posted by Astounding Writing Coach View Post

      Hi Mark,

      Remember that you have a lot to offer to your networking group. You know information that can mean a world of difference to many people. Instead of telling yourself self-limiting ideas that keep you from sharing your wonderful knowledge, focus on finding people who want to know how to solve a problem you know how to solve.

      For example, suppose you know how to show people in your networking group how to write really great e-mails that engage others. Before you go to the networking group, print out copies of a simple process others can follow to solve their problem. As you focus on intentionally additing value to others AND expect that a miracle will happen, it will happen.

      For you, the miracle is that you'll feel calm, confident and a bit more outgoing when around new people or in social situations. Expect that to happen and intentionally reach out with your great information. This will help you develop confidence!

      Take care,
      Susan
      Susan's advice is right on and I would just add to it "Ask Questions". Become a very curious person and in finding out about other's and their problems and genuinely providing them value in helping them solve problems, your confidence and your social circle will grow in no time!

      Practice!

      Megan (aka: Dr. Meg)
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  • Profile picture of the author homenotion
    Being shy and fear of social interaction is a hard thing to overcome, I'm familiar with it myself, but it's like someone said above, it's who can be the better actor.

    We're all a product of our experiences so I think the more you can interact with others the less fearful you will be because you'll start experiencing positive reactions from those you interact with and that helps a lot.

    I've never been one to walk into a room full of strangers and just start mingling, it's awkward and I envy people who can do that. But if you go in with a positive attitude and think about what you will say and what you can offer others it doesn't take long to start feeling confident.
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  • Profile picture of the author Colin Palfrey
    Hi Mark,
    Ignoring IM I have walked on stage many times as a Rock/Blues singer/guitarist.

    I am naturally horribly shy but when I'm on stage I'm not. The technique me and every other musician use to do this is.....Create a persona.

    That persona can do anything, because he die's when you leave the situation.

    Try this technique. It's enabled me to stand on tables and sing without fear, even though I was terrified before stepping on the stage....and after LOL

    Colin
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  • Profile picture of the author jamie07051975
    Originally Posted by markfoo76 View Post

    Do you feel butterfly in the stomach when talking to a stranger, especially in networking sessions? Have you overcome this fear? If yes, how did you manage to overcome it?

    For me, I try telling myself these people are just as nervous as I am. It's all about who is the best actor.

    Cheers~

    Mark
    I was quite shy when I was younger but by actually making the jump and saying "Hi" makes a difference. Once you've made that jump it really does get easier and easier each time.
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  • Profile picture of the author rcjcal09
    The best way to become a better communicator is to learn how to be a good listener. Most people are shy because they feel like they don't have anything of interest to say, but the best thing about talking with other people is that people inevitably love talking about themselves. Just learn to ask open ended questions...

    And if you're meeting a complete stranger, feel free to use this following technique to get to know them a little better:

    F - Where are you from? Are you originally from the area?
    O - What's your occupation? What do you do for a living?
    R - What's your recreation? What do you do for fun? Have any hobbies that you enjoy?
    M - What's your motivation? Why did you decide to pursue...? What made you choose that hobby?

    Hope that helps! ^_~
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  • Profile picture of the author markfoo76
    Wow... This thread has suddenly received some renewed attention! Thank you so much warriors! Thanks for sharing your tips and I really appreciate it.

    I'm still a bit shy when talking to strangers but I'm definitely better than before. Hope I can get better and better until I feel no shame! Just kidding about the last bit...

    Cheers~

    Mark
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  • Profile picture of the author Tam Chancellor
    This thread is full of great ideas, especially joining Toastmasters. The people there are
    very supportive and you can progress at your own pace.

    Also, are there any acting classes in your areas? A lot of actors get into acting
    to overcome their shyness. Taking an acting class will help you to "get out of
    your own head" which I think is a big part of shyness....at least from my personal
    experience.

    Good luck,
    Tam
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  • Profile picture of the author Jreyes2265
    Start off small, when people walk by just say "Hey" or "Hi, how's it going?" and just have a small smile. Talk to the people at the register, talk to people walking by.

    You don't have to start big, start small and progress.
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  • Profile picture of the author rayward52
    If I were you I would read a book called, Feel the fear and do it anyway. This was one of the many books that was recommended to me back in the day's that I went to Network Marketing meetings and was asked to speak on front of a crowd of people.

    Hope that helps.

    Ray
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  • Previously I'm shy, but I also helped advise me like this, so I trusted myself so that I can, while some still have more capabilities, thanks to another sharing like this.
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  • Profile picture of the author jeresteem99
    give them money... or give them work... they will be inspire of it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Bluestarace
    Keep doing it more often and hopefully you will get used to such an environment.

    Here is a quote I like a lot... Dunno who it's by though.
    "Everyone is shy --- it is the inborn modesty that makes us able to live in harmony with other creatures and our fellows.* Achievement comes not by denying shyness but, occasionally, by setting it aside and letting pride and perspiration come first."
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  • Profile picture of the author NickTaylor
    I would say just learn to say hello. Just hello. When you go about your daily activities say hello to people and eventually you will start having conversations with them. But if you can't get yourself to say hello you can't hold a conversation with anyone. Little kids say hi to everyone just copy them.
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  • Profile picture of the author quercus5
    Have fun and do your best to enjoy the conversation. If you look at it from that perspective the rest should fall into place. Focus on the positives rather than the thoughts you may have about being shy or not confident.
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  • Profile picture of the author Evocess
    Great share guys.
    One thing that I would suggest is allay all your fears, just be yourself, don't let distractions disturbs you, and lastly be focus of what you're doing. I hope it can help .
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  • Profile picture of the author TMercT
    Practices makes perfect, if you want to get more confident then talk to as much people as you can in one day. I challenge you to go out and say "hi" to the next five random people you meet on the street, by the fifth person you will feel much more comfortable. Good Luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author GT
    I agree that practice will help a person learn to control their fear and develop a greater sense of confidence talking to people.

    One of the best places to get this kind of practice is at a Toastmasters International club. Most clubs are friendly and supportive and will give you encouragement and helpful evaluations.

    GT
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  • Profile picture of the author maxjordan
    Bad experiences before are one of the reasons why people get shy in front of people, one idea is to consult an expert, a psychologist might be one.
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  • Profile picture of the author hireava
    Such an interesting thread! Very helpful for people who seek advice who are having trouble about confidence. Very much appreciated!
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  • Profile picture of the author Ender Ayanethos
    Why are you feeling nervous in social situations? Could it be because you are 'acting' like someone that's not really you? If you act like yourself, what could you be nervous about? Try going out into public and doing ridiculous stuff until you're over the fear. You might hold a 'free hugs' sign until it feels natural to connect with people as yourself. Don't worry, it's easy and everyone really wants to meet the real you!
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  • Profile picture of the author David Sneen
    Believe that you are worthy and that you have something to offer. Regularly affirm that. Pray and ask God for confidence. Realize that other people have the same insecurities that you do.

    Follow the Golden Rule...treat others as you would want to be treated.

    If you do those things, you will have confidence, and people will want to be around you.
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    David Sneen
    It's what you do when no one is watching
    that determines what you will be able to
    do when everyone is watching.
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  • Profile picture of the author rmolina88
    I grew up being painfully shy and still am at times. I used to be really loud and obnoxious as a kid and people were always telling me to be quiet, so that's what drove me to be shy.

    However, I tend to open up once in a while and always had positive results. The loud obnoxious kid is still inside of me, but a little more mellowed out and reserved now.
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  • Profile picture of the author Simon Ashari
    Toastmasters.

    Also, you shouldn't give a **** about networking meetings. Too many sellers, not enough buyers.
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  • Profile picture of the author Butazi
    I dig the advice here. Here is great gem that was on reddit awhile back. I actually have done a good amount of this on my senior year of college when I broke up with my gf, had 2 friends and no social skills and felt awkward. But this guy just articulates it better.

    (not me below, just a x-post from reddit)

    I'm on a similar boat, but I've been improving for the last few months. Hear me out.
    Ignore people who simply tell you to "get out there, do stuff." They're missing the point entirely*, and basically saying you just have to "fix things" in order to fix them, which is useless tautology. While exposure to situations is certainly part of the process, it is merely a setting for the actual resolution here.

    Also, ignore anyone who tells you to stop worrying about it and move on. This is denial. That sort of advice would fit if you were comfortable about it, which you obviously are not since you are posting here. You have a legitimate concern about your social skills, and you believe you can improve a part of your life. That's perfectly all right, and very commendable.

    Now, onto the resolution. What you really need here is to create the habit of properly absorbing your experiences and training how to properly share them. Doing a bunch of stuff and going out will be completely worthless if you don't fix those first. I'll explain.
    When a person doesn't have the habit of dealing with people and being talkative, they tend to take their experiences as very personal and nearly disposable matters. Basically, their personal experiences are taken as "things I'm experiencing now" instead of "things I have personally experienced." Do you notice the difference? If not, I'll explain further.

    A talkative, social person is basically a story teller. They share their views and their experiences easily, and they do so because:
    They have active lives that create a lot of stories worth telling.
    They have invested time in developing themselves as a person, creating a set of opinions that are strong enough to share with confidence.
    They have practiced their skills as storytellers.

    But the distinguishing factor here is not that they have active lives or interesting opinions, per se. It's that they make an effort to REMEMBER their experiences to tell them later on to others, and they have CONFIDENCE that they are interesting people, interesting enough that all of this is worth sharing and listening to in the first place.
    Here's a quick comparison of mindsets: when you experience something cool, do you think "this is cool" or "this is so cool, I can't wait to tell people about it"? When you watch a movie or read a book, do you think "this is great/awful" or "this is great/awful, I can't wait to discuss this with other people"?

    If you are like me, and others I have talked to that had similar problems, then you are omitting that second part of those mindsets. The part that's EAGER to SHARE. The part that wants to REMEMBER things for the long run. The part that treats the experiences and memories as future resources to tap into, and not simply a thing of the moment.
    The funny thing is, this mindset varies according to the topic. I'm betting you have some topics that you make an effort to remember and to share. These are those topics that time after time happen to be the only ones that work in social contexts, but they rarely last long enough. You hear this all the time, and I used to say it all the time: "I can talk to anyone just fine about topics X and Y, but beyond that..."

    If you use that same mindset you have with these topics on other areas of your life (especially social situations, as they create the best anecdotes), you'll slowly realize that you now can talk about those things with more ease. The memories will just pop up all the time, eager to be shared. You'll feel excited about these topics, and it's a positive feedback loop.

    Eventually, you should feel confident enough about these topics, and suddenly you'll feel that you have "patched" a conversational hole you had before. Congratulations!
    This is where practice comes in. Once you have the material ready, it's only a matter of practicing the storytelling part, but you'll always be excited about this since now you have tons of topics to talk about. You'll start pulling up random topics of conversation simply because you are eager to talk about them, and something reminded you of it. You'll no longer have those awkward silences, because something will pop up.

    This is exactly what I've been doing, and it's been working amazingly well for me. I used to remember that I had read certain books or watched certain films, or that I've traveled to certain places, but I realized I didn't have anything to share about that. The stories and memories weren't there, simply because I wasn't paying enough attention. I realized I treated these experiences as "private" and "disposable." So I changed that, and things started to fix themselves.

    tl;dr: your problem is that you don't treat your experiences and opinions as things that are worth sharing. If you don't fix that mindset, you can do a million different interesting things, they won't be worth squat. Once you fix that, you'll be ready to absorb all your life's experiences, and you'll be eager to share them with others. This will fix 90% of your social problem
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