This article illustrates why empathy is an important skill in decreasing social anxiety.
One of the most important lines of defense against social anxiety is learning to build empathy. If you suffer with social anxiety and difficulty connecting with others, consider this: anxiety and self consciousness turn an individual inward, and cause a person to always be on the defensive (against rejection, humiliation, threats from others). When you are on the defensive and turned inward, very little psychic energy is available for much else. You are closed up, and unavailable to absorb the world outside you in an adaptive/positive or even accurate way. Everything is seen in terms of threatening or nonthreatening and not much else. In seeing others only as unflattering mirrors of yourself, you overlook the person that they are. This does not mean you are a selfish person, it just means that too much of your mind’s space is devoted to keeping yourself safe, and unavailable for other things such as connecting.