socially awkward

Getting Through The Awkwardness Of Talking To Strangers In Meetings

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Something that every newly sober person has experienced is the tremendous awkwardness that comes from talking to strangers at a meeting. It is almost a right of passage that every person who seeks sobriety has to go through in order to come out of their shell and create the fellowship that they need, and it usually looks something like this. Pulling up to the meeting less than 15 minutes before the meeting starts because you don’t want to have spend too much time talking to people that you don’t know, or even worse standing with your back to the wall looking at your phone pretending you are busy. You may know one or two people at the meeting so you gravitate towards them, but they are talking with a group of people that you don’t know, so you stand there like a mute, not entirely sure what to say, but desperately wanting to speak. Finally, someone comes up and introduces themselves to you. The two of you talk, and you desperately hope that an awkward silence doesn’t occur. So mid-way through the conversation you excuse yourself so that you can find a seat in the meeting on time. It is a terrible feeling, one that usually is accompanied by a rise in body temperature and the pervasive thought of escape. And usually, after the meeting when you are alone with your thoughts, you begin to think that something is wrong with you because you felt so awkward and that you may never get over it.

The truth is, there is nothing wrong with you, you will get over it, and in the beginning talking to strangers at meetings is extremely awkward, so it’s okay to feel uncomfortable. This is not something that only plagues alcoholics and addicts, but most people on the planet as well. Think about it in terms like this, let’s say you are at the beach, how often would you just go up to random people and start conversations with them? For most, the answer is never, and the same applies to talking to people that we don’t know at meetings, the only difference is that while at meetings we have a sort of shared secret. This shared secret is what brings us together and in time eventually completely removes the awkwardness attributed to talking to alcoholics or addicts that we don’t know.

So if you are currently experiencing the uncomfortability that comes from trying to talk to people in meetings that you don’t know, below are some useful tips to help you get over this.

Tips for Getting Over Talking to Strangers at Meetings

While it may seem that you are the only person feeling this way, understand that you are not and that many other people have been in your shoes before. The only difference is that they have experienced this awkwardness already and have done some simple things in order to overcome it.

Understand that everyone feels awkward

One of the greatest lies of humanity is that we are alone in our neuroses. There is nothing worse than feeling like you are the only person experiencing something and it does nothing but fuel the negative self-talk that keeps a person from experiencing something that they’d like to achieve. So the first and most important thing to remember is that everyone else experiences the same awkwardness with talking to people that they do not know. Some people are in different places with accepting this uncomfortability but for the most part, everyone feels awkward addressing people they don’t know. From this place, you can begin to not judge yourself harshly for being uncomfortable, which will, in turn, allow you to be more of yourself when talking to people at meetings that you don’t know.

anxious face

Challenge yourself to start conversations with people

At first, this will feel so contrived and uncomfortable, but what you will find over time is that everyone, especially in the rooms, just wants to talk to someone. It is really amazing at meetings too because since we all have a common interest, it is easy to start a conversation with someone. If you haven’t seen them around ask them who they are, how much time they have, where they are from, or any number of things and you can start a conversation centered around recovery that will begin to flow with ease. A good person to start with is someone who is standing by themselves, probably feeling as uneasy as you are. You can even talk to them about how you feel nervous and anxious talking to people. Most of the time in life we are taught to hide ourselves but not so in recovery, so you can share things with people and they will share openly back.

Share in meetings 

One of the best ways to get over the social anxiety with talking to strangers at meetings is by sharing during the meeting. This allows the entire room to get to know you and be able to put a name to a face. You may even have people come up to after the meeting, or before the next one, and talk to you about your share. This is a good icebreaker and a great way to let people know that you are there and want to be involved.

Get to know people at meetings

A great way to get over an unpleasant feeling of talking to strangers at meetings is by getting to know more people. This does two things, one, they are no longer strangers, and two, as you start to know more people at a meeting, you will no longer feel like an outsider, so when talking to new strangers at that meeting you will be speaking from your “home turf”. Psychologically speaking, it is also easier to speak to people when we feel comfortable in the position that we are in, so knowing more people and not feeling like an outsider allows us to more confidently speak to people that we don’t know.

Seeking Treatment for Alcoholism and Addiction

If you are not at the point yet where you are connecting with sober people at meetings, but merely want to get sober then call First Steps Recovery today, at 1-844-489-0836. Our recovery specialists are standing by to help you start your road to recovery.

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