How to be more interesting

How to be more interesting

Dear Mookychick,

Please help with some anxiety advice. I have social phobia and APD (avoidant personality disorder) which means I’m really self doubting and paranoid and I always think that if people are whispering it’s about me. Always.

I appear to be really confident (sometimes standoffish) on the outside but I’m really nervous and one negative comment can ruin my self esteem for days.

Do you have any advice to being more interesting and having better conversational and social skills?

Love, Anonymous Me xxx

The Mookychick answer to your problem

Ashley says…

If you’ve been professionally diagnosed with those two behaviors, social phobia and avoidant personality disorder, why would you look for treatment from laypeople? We’re not qualified to tell you if cognitive therapy or talk therapy or medication or meditation would work. It sounds like you’ve self-diagnosed those problems, as a regular head-doctor would tell you – if you indicated you wanted to learn how to deal with those things – the professional way to do it.

Which, in no world, would include “Ask Mookychick”, not that we’re not flattered. But if you’re basing this diagnosis on something you read on the Internet or from a magazine, they’re useless. They tell half the people who take them they’re schizofrenic or autistic and the other half that they have ADHD.

Not that plenty of people don’t have genuine disorders. But for those of us who are borderline, or who can be convinced we are borderline, or that the irritating and often disconsolable condition of being human is something that requires medication? Follow the money. Pill manufacturers don’t make a dime telling people they’re fine.

As for “being more interesting and having better conversational and social skills,” those three things are entirely subjective. You can’t measure those things like you can if you came to us and said, ferinstance, that you had a problem being hygenic (one could ask, do you brush your teeth after you eat? And if you said no, one could say, well, start.) Also, those complaints seem to stem from someone who has been told, by a parent or a boyfriend or something, repeatedly, that they are uninteresting.

Magda says…

Hello lovely, I agree with Ashley in that I think we’re not qualified to say for sure if you do or don’t have social difficulties which could be helped with therapy – but it sounds to me like you’re absolutely fine, just lacking in self-confidence.

This lack of self-confidence is a bit of a rollercoaster – the more you focus on it, the more you’re sensitive to things that would encourage you to feel less confident in yourself.

Conversational and social skills are all about (a) taking a bit of a chance to be outgoing, and (b) feeling confident enough to trust that your outgoing nature will be well received.

What might help is to consider not what makes you interesting (I’m 100% sure you’re interesting), but what makes you interested. What interests do you have in life? What floats your boat? What makes your eyes shine? Ideally, you’ll know some people who have the same interests, or at least will understand where you’re coming from.

Social skills is as much about choosing who you feel really comfortable with as it is about everybody feeling comfortable around you.

Paranoia is just self-doubt being a bit shouty, don’t worry about your paranoia. Everyone thinks someone is badmouthing them, and it really doesn’t matter. Did you ever consider that people might say good things behind your back?

In short term, I’d say this:

1) If someone says something to you, always reply in kind, even if you feel like hiding behind hair or running away. You don’t have to say loads – just don’t shut off a conversation if it’s started.

2) If you’re talking to someone, or they’re talking to you, look them in the eyes. Smiling helps too. These are really simple things that are hard to do if you’re not used to them but will pretty make social interaction run more smoothly.

3) Think you might come across as a bit stand-offish? Then ask people questions. Make an effort every day to show you’re taking an interest in someone else. Don’t just talk about yourself, or say nothing, even if you’re only doing these things to cover up for what’s inside. Why? Because asking people questions, taking an interest in them, makes them open up to you a little. And don’t you think it might help with self-doubt and shyness that people are okay to open up to you a little bit?

These are just fairly general things, so in the short term, I think you’re absolutely fine! A little bit of self-doubt is a good thing – it makes us better people, most definitely. xxx