For some socialising can be a really difficult task, especially when you aren’t full of confidence and feel like you will make a fool of yourself whenever in the presence of new people.
One internal question can come to the fore – “Am I just socially awkward?”
Whether you have serious anxiety issues or are simply not as confident as you could be, overcoming social awkwardness can be tough and not easy to figure out.
However, there are a number of things you can do – some of them surprisingly simple – that can really help you to move forward and begin the process of becoming less socially awkward.
Seven steps you might like to start taking are:
1. Turn Up On Time Or Early
Turning up to social events on time or even better early, can make it much easier for you to succeed in being sociable. If you turn up late, conversations are already under way and, in the case of larger events, people have already split off into like-minded groups.
Getting into the action is much harder at this point than at the very start of the event. Whereas being there from the get-go can help you get a foot in the door and firmly established into a conversation.
If you are socially awkward I’m sure you are already nervous about attending social events and might want to arrive late with that ‘get in late get out early’ mantra. Arriving on time can help like we discussed and also make sure you avoid the awkward ‘Whey are you late?’ questions that no one likes.
2. Ask About Others
Sometimes carrying the conversation can be difficult if you are socially awkward. When you aren’t really sure how to continue, one of the simplest yet most effective things you can do is ask a question.
That will put the onus of talking on them for a while, and hopefully you will have some prompting or a new subject by the time your turn comes around again.
Generic questions like “What do you do for a living?”, “Where are you from?” etc will serve, but it might be worth developing a repertoire of more interesting choices you can call upon.
Make sure though you are taking in what the other person is saying, think of it as useful temporary data you need to store. You will need this data at hand so you can come up with a relevant question in response and not something completely out of context.
3. Have a Smartphone at the Ready
Usually I wouldn’t condone whipping out the smartphone in social interactions but in some instances it can actually be an aid.
It can really pay to have a smartphone ready to retreat into as necessary. This might sound counter-intuitive when you are trying to be social, but you can’t expect to come the life and soul of the party overnight and it is not wise to drop yourself in the deep end.
Having a smartphone to fiddle with on the sidelines and pretend you are sending an important text can be a godsend when you need a breather. It can also help with your more social moments if you have interesting apps or information on there to fuel a conversation.
4. Don’t Dwell on the Negatives
Everybody sometimes says something that comes out wrong or tells a joke that falls flat, hell I’ve had more than my fair share of tumble weed moments.
If you are socially awkward, you probably spend a lot more time regretting and worrying about it than most people.
Remind yourselves that these things happen to everyone and are certainly not the end of the world, and make an effort to avoid dwelling on them and instead focus on more positive things and the things that did go well.
5. Get Out and Socialise More
Like many things, becoming less socially awkward is best accomplished through practice.
You will become more comfortable and confident in social situations as you grow more familiar with them, so the best thing you can do is get out and socialise.
Obviously this doesn’t mean you have to leap into as many social opportunities as you can and put yourself in a really uncomfortable situation, especially if you have serious anxiety issues.
However, try to challenge yourself and step outside your comfort zone, as this can be the best way to make that comfort zone grow larger.
Small steps like going to public places or attending local community events where you know a lot of people will be around are good places to practise – just take it all in and get a read of what your brain is telling you, again focus on the positives.
6. Treat People Like Reflections Of Yourself
When you are really anxious and tense around others, you will notice they also become more withdrawn and defensive towards you.
On the flip side if you give off more of a relaxed and comfortable demeanour then it’s more likely people will respond to that positively and really open up.
People are like reflections of yourself, how you act will most likely in some way be reflected back to you. And that’s why it’s important to learn and practise certain techniques to help you lower that social anxiety when around other people.
7. Learn How to Relax
Learning to relax should begin at home where you are most comfortable, I wouldn’t advise someone feeling socially awkward to go to the nearest shopping centre to find their inner zen!
But seriously relaxing before you go into a social situation can help you open up more, and with that mindset come across as more outgoing and sincere.
A lot of socially awkwardness is built up from tension which grows and grows and can become a vicious cycle, especially if we feel the conversation is sinking like the titantic.
By attacking that early tension, with certain relaxing techniques such as heavy breathing or meditation, it can help you feel less tense and potentially more accepting of social events instead of fearing them.
If you follow these simple 7 steps, then you will be on the right road to feeling less like a social failure. It won’t happen straight away but trust me, by adopting some of these techniques you will feel more confidence and armed with more ammo when heading into that social battlefield.
Like Rambo once said “To survive war, you gotta become war!” – now it’s time to apply that same logic when socialising.
What tips would you give to help people stop being socially awkward? Let me know in the comments below.
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