Many people experience some level of shyness or anxiety when faced with new or uncomfortable situations. Walking up to a stranger of the opposite sex in a bar. Making a big presentation at work. Engaging in small talk at a party. All these situations can lead to some degree of nervousness. In some people they can actually lead to severe physical and mental stress, commonly known as social anxiety. The first step in overcoming social anxiety is understanding why many of us react so strongly when facing social interaction.

There are many causes of shyness, but a few common traits and triggers are easily identified. People with low self esteem typically suffer from some degree of social anxiety. Fears of rejection and excessive concern over other people's approval are also common drivers. The memory of a past social blunder can also result in feelings of anxiety that hinder a person's ability to socially interact.

If you suffer from social anxiety, or even just common shyness, there are some tips that can be utilized to reduce or even eliminate nervousness in uncomfortable social situations.

Begin making little changes in your behavior

Acknowledge the people you encounter. Nod, smile, and say hello. Whatever's appropriate.

Keep your eyes focused on the person you're talking with. You come off as confident when you look a person in the eye.

Go out of your way to strike up a conversation with a co-worker. Nothing high pressure. Just talk about weekend plans or some other chit-chat subject.

By taking these small steps, over time you will begin to build confidence in your ability to socially interact.

Make an attitude adjustment

A two prong approach to changing the way you think and react can help alleviate social anxiety. One, change any unrealistic expectations you have around your own performance or behavior. You don't have to "get it right" every time. And two, recognize that people will not condemn you because you occasionally "get it wrong".

You will occasionally trip when dancing. You will occasionally fumble your words when giving a presentation. And you will occasionally come off looking silly when trying to hit on a stranger in a bar. We all do.

Have something to say

Small talk drive you crazy? Become knowledgeable in current events and other areas that interest you. Have an opinion. Share it.

Become a better conversationalist

When in conversation, avoid asking questions that generate simple yes, no, or I don't know responses. Ask relevant open ended questions that encourage deeper conversation.

Talk a little louder

Shy people typically speak in soft, hard to hear voices. When in conversation, talk moderately louder than you normally would.

Overcoming social anxiety can be as simple as adopting simple changes to your behavior. In addition, there are various self help social anxiety programs that offer a wide range of instructional and motivational techniques. One of the most powerful self help social anxiety programs is Social Anxiety Secrets by Dr. Todd Snyder. His program utilizes both downloadable e-book and audio materials to provide a step by step plan to cure shyness and social anxiety.

You can read a review of the Social Anxiety Secrets program here.

Author's Bio: 

J.D. Bell is a former health and nutrition counselor who, as a first time father at age 45, is very interested in ways to improve his life and longevity.

You can read his blog and get a free copy of his latest report "Fourteen Secrets To A Healthier Life" at It Takes Work