Slow talk for social anxiety is a concept discussed by Dr. Thomas Richards of the Social Anxiety Institute.
It is in fact, just what it sounds like! Talking at a slower than normal rate (for you) to help alleviate your social anxiety.
What’s the purpose?
When you become socially anxious, your tendency is to rush through what you say. But, this act of rushing actually triggers more anxiety.
When you rush, your body releases adrenaline and cortisol, which speeds up your heart rate and breathing.
This makes sense when you think about the fact that if you were running from a burning building, you’d want to have some spring in your step.
But if you’re just having a conversation with someone, all that adrenaline and cortisol isn’t really going to help you.
So, talking more slowly helps you to feel relaxed, which in turn helps your body to relax.
As much as your anxiety wants to push you to feel overwhelmed, the more you let it take over, the worse it will get.
I know, I know. You’re thinking that it sounds like I am telling you to just “not have anxiety.”
Because obviously, if you could slow down and relax during a conversation, you’d do that right?
This is why you need to practice slow-talking BEFORE you try it out in a social situation.
Below are the steps to do just that.
How to Use Slow Talk for Social Anxiety
Step 1. Practice Alone
Practice reading something at a slow pace out loud to yourself for 10 minutes a day. At first this might feel weird, but that’s just because you aren’t used to it yet.
Practice every day until it starts to feel more automatic.
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It doesn’t really matter what you read. Dr. Richards recommends reading the handouts from his therapy series.
If you don’t want to invest in his whole therapy series, which is a few hundred dollars, you could purchase his book, “Overcoming Social Anxiety: Step by Step.”
When you feel as though talking more slowly starts to feel normal, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
Step 2. Practice With a Friend or Family Member
Remember that your goal is to refuse to let your anxiety speed up your rate of speech.
If you have trouble with this or feel as though you have to rush, imagine savoring the conversation.
Just like you would slow down to enjoy a piece of decadent cake, you should also slow down and enjoy the conversation.
Take time for pauses, don’t let yourself be pressured, and speak leisurely.
This might take practice! That’s okay.
When you speak slowly to someone you are also showing them that you are giving them your full attention.
If you’re not rushing through your conversation, they will feel as though they matter to you.
Step 3. Practice with a Stranger
The next step is to practice your slow talk with a stranger. That could be the grocery store cashier or a neighbor you’ve never talked to before.
If this makes you feel anxious, try repeating some positive affirmations to yourself in your slow talk voice.
You can also imagine that your thoughts or words are flowing past you on a conveyor belt. Instead of allowing it to speed up, imagine it slowing down.
How much better do you feel when the conveyor belt moves more slowly and you can focus better on each word?
Step 4. When You Are Put on the Spot
The truth is that in real life, we can’t always control who we talk to.
Sometimes you might be put on the spot or asked a question when you aren’t expecting it.
That’s when the social anxiety tends to act up, am I right?
I’m thinking of situations where you have to share something about yourself (“What do you do for work?”), introduce yourself, or make small talk.
When this happens next time…
Instead of instantly tensing up and trying to get the conversation over with as quickly as possible….
I’d like you to intentionally slow yourself down. Allow yourself to pause before responding.
Do the opposite of what your anxiety wants you to do, and take a leisurely approach to what you say.
Real life is unpredictable, but you can speak calmly even when you are anxious. Draw on how you felt during your practice sessions and you’ll be fine.
Benefits of Slow Talk
If you need a bit more motivation to talk this way, it might help to learn about the benefits of slow talk.
When you speak in a slow voice, it’s easier for others to understand you.
If you’re not sure if this is true, practice listening to people around you. Who is easier to understand… people who rush through their speech or those who speak slowly?
Even if it’s not your natural rate of speech, choosing to speak slowly makes it easier for others to follow what you say.
Professional and Authoritative
If you are speaking in a business setting, there is also a lot of value to be gained from slow talk.
In a business meeting or presentation, when you speak slowly and deliberately, you will come across are more professional and authoritative.
In addition, people will view you as conveying more valuable information.
While this might not seem “fair” that slow talkers automatically get this benefit, it’s something you can easily mimic… so why not?
Speaking slowly puts you in control of your emotions instead of the other way around.
Once this way of speaking becomes a habit, you will feel more relaxed and peaceful.
Others Feel More Comfortable
Finally, if you’re an empath with social anxiety, you’ll be happy to know that speaking more slowly helps others to feel more comfortable around you.
So if you’re still on the fence about slowing down your speech, imagine how doing so could help those around you.
What do you think? Will you try out slow talk? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
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