PART OF FEELING anxious fairly often is
that it tends to isolate you socially. Even surrounded by people,
even with a lot of acquaintances, you can feel isolated. And
the feeling of isolation tends to increase your feelings of anxiety
One reason is because feeling connected
to others is soothing, and if you are not connecting, you are
missing out on a very good way to feel calmer and more relaxed.
Feeling close is very relaxing. It is a powerful anxiety-reducer.
In surveys when people are asked what kind of things improve
their mood the best, the most common things they say all have
to do with interacting with people.
One way to eliminate your feeling of isolation
and increase your feelings of connection is to increase your
The two most practical books I've ever
come across on the fine art of dealing with people are Dale Carnegie's
How to Win Friends and Influence People and
Les Giblin's How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with
People. They said a lot and they said it well. But I have
a few more things to add.
Both of those books emphasize using the
techniques to get what you want, and they could be used in a
way that does NOT bring you closer to people. But they can also
be used to increase your comfort and connection with people.
And when that is your intention, the methods in those two books
work very well indeed.
How do you go about increasing your skills?
Simple: Get one of those books and read it. Pick two or three
skills and work on them in all your interactions.
What do I mean "work on them?"
I'll give you an example from Dale Carnegie's class. He was a
master of practicality he got people using the principles,
not just reading about them. In his class, which is about public
speaking, one of the books you get is How to Win Friends and Influence People.
The class meets once a week, and every member of the class gets
up and speaks for two minutes twice every week. One of those
speeches is on a principle from the book. Carnegie's book ends
each chapter with a short principle you can easily remember and
So the teacher assigns a principle, and
the class members are told to apply that principle at least once
in the coming week and then tell the audience about it the next
Since you need to have something to say
the following week, you try it out, maybe two or three times
to make sure you get a good story to tell. Trying it out, you
see how well it works, and you tend to keep some of the principles
in use afterwards. It's a clever system.
What is a people-skill? What am I talking
about? I mean basic things like using a person's name when you're
talking to her, noticing something you like about her and telling
her you like it, or learning to draw her out in a conversation
by asking good questions and showing interest. Those are three
people-skills. In How to Win Friends and Influence People you'll
find a bunch of them. Read through a book like that and choose
one or two or three you think would really help you if you practiced
it, and practice them until they start to feel natural. Then
find a couple more, etc.
I think most people conceive of people-skills
as a way to persuade people, manipulating their emotions to get
them to do what you want. But that doesn't usually reduce anxiety
to use people skills that way. It often increases anxiety.
Let us conceive that the purpose of practicing
people-skills is to bring you and others closer together. To
cultivate affection, others for you and you for others.
Apply people skills to feel