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Be Your Best Advocate: Tips for Building Confidence in your Social Skills

Be Your Best Advocate: Tips for Building Confidence in your Social Skills

There are few events as satisfying as overcoming an obstacle.

Navigating the politics, personalities, and job tasks required to hold your own in the workplace can be intimidating. Autism presents some challenges, but the resilience and ability to adapt—that’s already inside of you. You already possess some of the tools needed to shine in a professional environment.

Sometimes, we need a little help pulling that out.

Do you find it difficult to make friends, initiate conversations, or know what to say in social situations? Do you struggle with confidence, insecurities, or Imposter Syndrome? As someone who has wrestled with social anxiety and “What Do I Do Now?” fears, these struggles are all too familiar to me. Through goal setting and the right self-improvement training, I was able to build my social skills and develop a sense of how to present the best version of myself in any situation.

There is no reason you cannot do that as well. Here are my tips for building confidence in your social skills. 

If you can see it, you can be it: Visualize

Visualization is the use of mental imagery to emulate a real-world activity. The benefit of visualization is that it provides your mind with an opportunity to improve in whatever skill you like. The act of mentally moving through the ins and outs of a skill enhances your ability to perform that skill. To employ visualization, simply close your eyes and see yourself performing an action. We want to use a first-person perspective (i.e. see an event through your own eyes instead of seeing yourself as an object within that event) for maximum effectiveness.

What skills are you using? What does it feel like to participate? What do you see while you’re engaging in the action? All of these are great prompts for proper visualization exercises.

Here is a real-life example of how I put visualization to use: 

Football is one of my favorite activities. In one notable game a few months back, I committed a series of errors, including dropping a pass in a key spot that could have led to a touchdown. After the game, I spent some time breaking down why I played as poorly as I did.  

During my self-evaluation, I realized that I dropped the pass because I did not keep my eyes on the ball while it was headed my way. Catching a football is all about your eyes and hand technique, learning how to stare at the ball while it is in flight and blocking out all of the on-field distractions around you until you catch it. My catch technique was flawed, so it should be no surprise that I did not get the result I wanted. 

These are the instructions I gave myself: 

“Visualize yourself staring at the tip of the ball. Use proper technique, extending your hands out to meet the ball–instead of catching with your body and letting the ball come close to you. Do this at least one-hundred times daily, just like you do when catching the ball. Visualize yourself running one-hundred routes five days a week. See yourself breaking long plays, hauling in tough passes, and maintaining laser-like focus on the ball, and you will do that in games with ease.” 

There’s immense value in visualization. You can multiply that effect by pairing it with practice, physical actions that mimic the skills you want to improve.

Confront Your Fears about Socialization 

Let’s walk through an example of how you can use visualization to boost your confidence in the workplace.  

Say you want to get better at speaking to co-workers on the job that you do not know well. It’s helpful to start by addressing some of the fears that may be hindering your improvement. 

These fears may include: 

  • Worrying about what others think of you 
  • Worrying about not knowing what to say 
  • Worrying that other people may not like you or not want to talk to you

You may think about an experience in school when you shared something in class and someone laughed at you. Or a time when you wanted to get to know someone new, so you summoned the courage to say a few words and it all went horribly wrong.

Confronting a fear—by examining its validity and undertaking action to address it—is the surest way to eliminate it. And there is no better way to demolish a limiting belief than by facing it head-on. 

Visualize what it would be like to be comfortable conversing with your co-workers. See how at ease you are while speaking to them and how much they enjoy their time with you. What are you asking them about? What does your body language look and feel like? 

And here is a way you can practice your conversation skills: 

Say “Hello” to two strangers next time you’re out. Maybe you’re at the grocery store. Walk around and exchange a greeting with two people you do not know. You can spark a conversation with a few good follow-up questions such as “What’s your name?” or “How’s your day been?” 

There are a litany of questions you can pose, if you do some thinking beforehand.  

The value of saying “Hello” to people you do not know helps you practice your conversation skills and disabuses you of the notion that people are looking for you to fail. By and large, people want to see others succeed—that includes socializing as well. 

Most people are receptive to meeting a new friendly face. The more you utilize a skill, the better you become at it. And the more you practice your social skills, the easier it will be for you to feel confident in any situation. 

Kene Erike provides social skills coaching for clients on the spectrum. His organization, K.E. Consulting, provides the tools for building connections and achieving your potential. Kene has a passion for helping others become better public speakers and build confidence in the workplace.

Instagram: @K.E.Consulting


The post Be Your Best Advocate: Tips for Building Confidence in your Social Skills first appeared on Organization for Autism Research.

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