More threads by AndPao


Hi everyone. I haven't used the forum for a while, but I would be grateful for any advice.

I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions about techniques or methods for behaving well in social situations. That sounds a bit strange, I know! The thing is, I have been struggling a lot with depression and anxiety in the last few months. I really want to find a way out of it. When I am in social situations, I want to be sociable and friendly and enjoy myself, and not bring other people down. I was at a wedding reception the other night, and I had every intention of coming across in a bright, friendly manner, but by the end of the night I had somehow been taken under the wing of some very kind, well-meaning people who were trying to cheer me up, and bolster me. I feel ashamed that I let this happen, especially on such an occasion! I don't know exactly how it happened, but I realise I must have elicited this behaviour somehow. I know everyone has their own problems, I don't want to get so focused on my own problems that my behaviour betrays this horrible self-involvement. I really want to put on a brave face, smile and face the world and struggle onward and upward.

I feel I must be behaving in a very selfish, immature way, and I don't want to do this. I was telling myself I have to be interested in other people, I have to be curious about them, take the focus off me, but I obviously didn't succeed! I was telling myself that I want to show kindness, interest and compassion in/toward other people, just have fun, not bring people down (including myself!), but it just back-fired! I think I may have lapsed into self-deprecation, which I think can actually make people feel uncomfortable...?

I don't know if it's just basic ettiquette and social graces that I need to learn? Does anyone know of any books or courses that could help me with this please? I think it may also just be a case of getting out there, making my social gaffes, and learning from them and from watching other people who are good at socialising. But still, any advice most gratefully received!

Best wishes to all, and hope you're feeling better now, David. With thanks.
a few thoughts come to mind but i could be off the mark. a wedding reception sounds like quite a formal event, was it for people you knew quite well or was this a place where you didn't know many people? i tend to be more self-conscious when i'm in a social situation where i don't really know people.

you may have been trying too hard, which in turn led to self-reflection, and with depression that of course quickly turns into a lot of pessimism and negativity.

maybe trying to relax a bit might help :)


Hi Ladybug! Thanks for your comment. Yes, it was a fairly formal event, but also pretty relaxed, as it was after dinner and drinks. It was the marriage of a friend, but I didn't know anyone else there, and I was there alone. I actually felt quite proud of myself for doing that! I haven't been to a wedding since I was a kid so I wasn't sure quite what to expect. I felt ok with greeting new people and starting a conversation, but I'm not so good at keeping it up.

I guess you are right, I should just loosen up a bit :) I wish I knew how to deflect conversation away from me and my issues onto other people and more cheerful things!

Thanks again.


Account Closed
Well first off - many kudos for you :D That kind of situation would make many people uncomfortable, so definitely give yourself points for just attending.

I read a book many months ago and I can't think of the proper title, thnk it was called something like "Shortcuts to Success". Ring any bells for anyone? Anyhow, there was a chapter in it dedicated to socializing, smoozing, dealing with people. A suggestion I do remember is; sincerely complimenting someone on there style of dress, watch...something that gets them talking. Asking such questions as "Where did you find that?" If they picked it up on thier last vacation then the conversation moves into travelling.

People like attention paid to them, so keeping the focus on them, without prying into private territory, will help keep the focus on others and away from yourself. The other part is to talk about something nuetral, like the hall or church the wedding was held at. It helps to find common ground.

And again, congrats for just going for it.



Hi Ladylore, thanks for your comments and suggestions, I think they will be very helpful. I've been trying to imagine using them, and I think I might have a problem with eye-contact and body-language. I can imagine how I would behave, physically, around someone when using these suggestions, and I see myself being bashful, maybe not actually appearing to be all that interested in the reply, or appearing over-interested (i.e. coming across as a big faker!)... :( hmm, not good. Well, I guess I just need to practise and try and change these things. I suppose it's just a case of breaking old habits. On the other hand, maybe it's not as bad in real-life as it is in my head :)

Thanks again for your interest and kind comments :)


People like attention paid to them, so keeping the focus on them, without prying into private territory, will help keep the focus on others and away from yourself. The other part is to talk about something nuetral, like the hall or church the wedding was held at. It helps to find common ground.

That seems to be the technique that works best, IOW keep the focus on the person you are talking to.

Ever watch Larry King?

He rarely talks about himself, but rather asks a question, and uses the answer to trigger anfollow up question.

Remember what reporters do? They ask:

  • How
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Who

By starting question with one of those, you can encourage people to talk about themselves.


Hi Steve, thanks for your comments. These are all really helpful tips, thanks. I have to admit, I was aware of this approach, of getting people to talk about themselves, but in practice, I don't think I've been able to keep this going beyond the first few exchanges, and I'm not sure exactly where I'm tripping up. I think it must be that when other people are doing the "and what about you?" bit, I must be seeing it as a green light to over-share, perhaps, maybe get a bit too self-indulgent, and forget to bat the conversation back.

I guess I have to try and keep things light and positive, and keep the balance in the conversation? Well, I don't know... it's pretty complex, actually, isn't it? Or is it...? I guess the whole point of these things is to meet new people, learn about them, what makes them tick, see what you have in common, maybe even make a few friends.... :) It would be nice to have the skills to make other people come away from a conversation feeling like interesting people, happier and better about themselves.

Thanks again and best wishes.

(Oh no, this reply is surely a great example of hogging the conversation and closing down potential interesting avenues... I'm sorry, I seem to have used this to think out loud about this problem. But I am going to try my best to apply your advice in real-life situations.)


I seem to have used this to think out loud about this problem
Precisely what Psychlinks is for, that you have the opportunity to think out loud and get the views of other members.

I think it must be that when other people are doing the "and what about you?"

In the situations you described, there is nothing wrong with sharing something about yourself to your new found friends. The information you share will provide them with some insights into being able to ask follow up questions to you.

However, It's here that perhaps you need to filter what you share about yourself.

New found friends should not be the people with whom you share your deepest darkest secrets or concerns. That's what I would categorize as support, and we should seek support from a few select close friends.

So if you are asked "How did you spend your summer?" and if the truth is you were at home recovering from a depressive disorder, you could say, " It was a quiet summer, and I decided catch up on some household chores, what did you do this summer?"

Do you have family or a close friend with whom you can vent your frustrations?


Thanks for your reply Steve, that's really useful. I never thought of it that way, as categorising some sharing as support-seeking. That's clearly not appropriate in many situations. When people ask about something, they're not necessarily asking for the full, unabridged version, I guess!

I haven't been so good at putting the effort into friendships/relationships in recent years, but I have been trying to change that in the last few months. Because I'd let my friendships get a bit neglected, I didn't feel it was the right thing to contact them seeking support. I think things have changed a bit now, and I'm investing more in building up good friendships again, so yes, I guess I should feel ok about talking to friends about things these days.

Thanks to everyone who has replied, it's all been really helpful.

Best wishes.
Replying is not possible. This forum is only available as an archive.