feelings towards others? Of course, by listening and/or watching your
interaction, you are likely to see many ways to improve your words
As you get more skillful, you will feel more confident. As you
overcome your anxieties, you will actually be more able to use all your
skills; you will become more flexible, quicker, and more clever.
Although you start off with easy-to-handle situations, eventually take
on the really tough, challenging problem situations. Have some
success there too.
STEP FOUR: Make use of your new skills in real life.
If you don't use it, you lose it. Don't say, "I'll try this sometime,"
rather say, "I will _______ in two hours." Have in mind specific actions
you can take in specific situations that will be occurring in the near
future. Place these assignments on your To-Be-Done-List or daily
schedule. Otherwise, you may never find a chance to use the new
skills. Pace yourself, not too slow nor too fast. Praise and reward your
progress even though good skills produce their own rewards.
Start with the easier things to do. Work up to more difficult
situations. If you have one or two experiences in which the other
person doesn't react as you had hoped, keep on trying the same
approach you worked out in role-playing. If, however, you have a
string of four or five failures, you must reconsider what you are doing.
Are you saying the wrong thing? Are you approaching the wrong
people? Do you need different skills? Try a different approach. Learn
from your mistakes, don't get down on yourself.
If you have practiced interacting in a certain situation and feel your
skills are adequate, but you still won't use these skills in real life, you
need to deal with the fear. Try desensitization or try covert rehearsal
(practice in your fantasy) and imagine being successful. Either should
reduce the anxiety.
Focus on how others are responding to you, rather than constantly
observing and evaluating your own behavior. Example: rather than
concentrating on your eye contact, note how much others disclose
when you self-disclose, ask them questions, lean towards them, look
in their eyes with interest and nod your head. You can lose your own
self-consciousness by tuning into what the other person is saying--and
into their moods and reactions. You can observe your impact on
others. That will make you feel good.
Developing skillful approaches to major problems, like interviewing
for a job or learning to meet the opposite sex, may take several hours.
You might observe others for 2 or 3 hours, then role-play with a friend
for 2 or 3 hours, then fantasize about taking some real-life action for a