A Guest Post by Ruthie Gray

Do you have a fear of talking to people in social settings? Learn how to start conversations and build relationships with these helpful tips. #social anxiety

One of my earliest memories as an introverted 6-year-old surrounds my fear of talking to people.

My dad worked in the business office of a Bible college and since our home was on campus, I was allowed to visit his office every day.

During that era, there was a large, brassy guy on staff named Lloyd Preston. Lloyd got a kick out of making loud comments, singing crazy songs, and joking with (read: pestering) young children.

I avoided Lloyd at all cost. In situations where I had contact, I tucked my chin and tried to appear invisible.

And he knew it. Which made him seek me out even more.

One day as I exited dad’s office, I heard Lloyd’s loud, jovial voice floating down the hall near the exit.

I ducked into the women’s restroom and hid behind the door, praying Lloyd would leave before I had to go home.

I waited. Finally, cracking the door, I peeked down the hall.

More jocularity.

Time was running out, so I gathered my courage and made an exit plan: walk quickly, quietly, invisibly past him, chin tucked, eyes almost shut.

I skirted down the hall. Around Lloyd Preston and current audience, making it a full 180 degrees before he turned and bent to say, “I SEE YOU THERE, LITTLE MISS, WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING?”

I assumed a bullfrog pose (swollen, red face, bulging eyes), and bolted for the door.

I have a fear of not only gregarious people who might draw attention to me, but I have a fear of talking to people. Especially with new people.

I’m afraid I won’t have any words/the right words.

I’m afraid of awkward silence.

Can a sister relate? Tell me you know what I’m talking about.

 

I’ve come a long way towards remedying this affliction.

If you are a fellow sufferer of tongue-tied paranoia, read on, my shy little friend.

Do you have a fear of talking to people in social settings? Learn how to start conversations and build relationships with these helpful tips. #social anxiety

Allow God to use you to bless others

Research shows that introverts are more self-focused, and extroverts are people-focused.

Please don’t hate me. I didn’t make the rule, I just live by it – by very nature.

But God calls us all to minister to others in this world. To be a light; to wash each other’s feet:

“Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God’s good news to one and all.” ~Mark 16:15

 

You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept.

We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.

If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket do you?

I’m putting you on a light-stand.

Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand – shine!

Keep open house; be generous with your lives.

By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. ~Matthew 5:14-16

 

You can’t hide a light.

You have to touch another person and interact in order to wash their feet (aka be a servant).

So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet.

I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. ~John 13:13-14

 

Have you ever considered that God made you an introvert because He wants to perform a work in you that you can’t possibly pull off yourself? A work to His glory?

He called us to serve; to be light. We can't do that without interaction. Click To Tweet

So how do we interact?

1. Ask about them

I grew up a pastor’s daughter. My mom was the social butterfly of the church fluttering about to each person, inquiring of their welfare and asking how she could pray.

While I sat in my pew and waited for someone to talk to me.

One day she issued me a challenge, “Get up and go talk to people!”

So I did. And as I directed my steps toward their pews and inquired of their lives, their children, and their days, I received joy and gathered courage!

People love to talk about themselves! Get them started and be sure to listen actively.

Here are some questions for you to write on your hand and pull out at the next social event:

What’s your vocation?

Where do you live?

How long have you been at that address?

How do you know so-and-so?

How many kids do you have?

What do you do for fun?

And if all else fails

How are your new year’s resolutions coming? (Even if it’s August, this’ll spark a conversation).

2. Offer a few words about yourself

For years I kept the subject steered toward the other person. But I realized that not sharing myself is still a bit selfish. So, I began practicing.

Hi, I’m Ruthie, nice to meet you! What do I do? Well, I’m a mom of four grown children and I’m trying to be cool with that, since everyone but the baby is out of the nest. I’ve found solace in blogging and I love it! Oh, and I have the cutest grandson ever – his name is Sawyer. And we’re expecting a granddaughter in early spring!

Get a little convo going with yourself in the bathroom mirror. Try to sound excited.

Customize your stand-up act. List things that really light your fire. Work on your confidence – stand up straight, lift your chin, and speak up!

I’ve made some fabulous friends just by emerging from my cocoon and sharing a bit about myself.

You become more approachable when you open up and share your life.

3. You can do this!

Deep down, I’m still a tiny bit afraid of talking to people. But they aren’t going to kill me, for goodness sakes.

They’re not going to kill you either. You can do this!

Allow God to work through you to minister to others. Extend your light and be ready to serve. Click To Tweet

Ask good questions and listen intently – you’ll discover new questions in the listening.

Share a bit about yourself and be generous with your life.

Now it’s your turn – what’s your greatest obstacle in talking with people? I’d love to hear!

{All Scripture taken from The Message}

Do you have a fear of talking to people in social settings? Learn how to start conversations and build relationships with these helpful tips. #social anxiety

Ruthie Gray is a wife, Gigi, and mom of four (who lived to tell about it).  Ruthie’s passion is mentoring moms to capture joy with humor, advice, and practical application of Scripture at Ruthie Gray.Mom.  Ruthie is a contributor of the free mom devotional app, TruthBytes, and the author of Count to Nine; 9 Liberating Steps for Mom Frustration and Anger.  Click to download her Wife and Mommy Survival Kit here.

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