Everyone’s met that social butterfly, that person that glides around the party like James Bond, looking completely relaxed and yet drawing the attention of everyone in the room. Unfortunately, not all of us can have that level of social aptitude.
For a lot of people, social situations often involve stumbling over our words in a very un-James-Bond-like fashion, feeling our palms grow moist, dreading handshakes, and trying to avoid eye contact like our lives depend on it. And you know what? That’s alright!
The world needs all kinds of people. Some of us are meant to be socialites and some of us are meant to have other strengths. So, if you find yourself to be a bit socially awkward, don’t kick yourself for it.
Accept the fact that social interactions may not be your strong suit and give yourself some praise for the things you are gifted at. And remember that as long as you’re genuine and kind, no matter how awkward you are, you’ll find friends and people that care about you.
While it’s totally fine to be socially awkward (I’d say that most people are), if you want to improve your socializing abilities, here’s a list of six tips that can help you out. They might not turn you into a suave, worldly spy who can have a graceful conversation with a brick wall, but they might help social settings feel a little less uncomfortable.
How To Be Less Socially Awkward in Group Settings
Listen and Be Interested
Socially awkward people often get nervous in social situations because they don’t think they’re very good at talking. Want to know the good news? You don’t really have to. Most people like to talk about themselves anyway. By being engaged and interested in what they’re saying, you won’t really have to talk about yourself.
Plus, if you actually take an interest in what the other person is saying, you should find that it’s a whole lot easier to think of things to say. Taking a genuine interest in other people will make the questions flow naturally and keep the conversation moving along smoothly.
People tend to like people who are good listeners. If you give people the impression that you care about what’s going on in their lives, then you’ll find yourself with a wealth of friends in no time.
As an added bonus, you won’t have to go through the nerve-racking experience of explaining what’s going on in your own life.
Be Interesting and Talk
While listening is important no matter what, if you want to be someone who’s good at talking, give yourself something to talk about. Read books, listen to music, get a new hobby, watch movies, or join a club. Whatever it is, having genuine interests will make it so much easier to converse with people because you’ll have things that you actually want to talk about.
Sure, you may never be good at small talk, but having meaningful conversations about things you actually care about is so much better than small talk anyway. So care about things! And tell other people what you care about.
A secondary effect of being interesting is that you’ll realize you’re interesting, and you’ll naturally get more confident. Then, you’ll have enough confidence in yourself to tell others about the things you’re passionate about. More often than not, people respond positively to genuine passion.
Remember That Nobody Cares
A lot of the time, socially awkward people tend to get in their own heads. They get all nervous and self-conscious about things that they think other people notice or care about when, in reality, no one could care less.
You have an ugly zit on your nose? You stuttered over a word? You forgot to shave today? You have a little sweat stain on your shirt? Nobody really cares. And if anyone does care, then that person has some serious issues of their own to work out.
These hyperfixations on our appearances or other surface-level issues can cause unnecessary anxiety and prevent us from focusing on the conversation at hand.
As an exercise, think about how often you really notice a zit or a sweat stain on someone else. When you do notice something like that on someone else, do you immediately write them off as a terrible person that’s not worth talking to? No!
Once you accept that no one else is fixating on these meaningless little things (nor do they care about them), you’ll have a far easier time focusing on the things that matter.
Keep the Mood Up
One of the more surefire ways to drive people away from you is by going into a hole of self-pity and constantly being negative.
Instead, focus on how you can improve the mood of any situation you’re in by being positive. In general, people like to be around those who have a positive outlook on life more than people who are constantly dragging everyone else down with their own sorrows.
Plus, if you help to keep the mood up, the conversation will flow more naturally from there. People will be more likely to laugh even if you make a bad joke. People will be more willing to invite you into new conversations. Being positive helps ease the overall mood and makes social interactions a whole lot less tense.
Being positive is not only a way to make people like you and make social interactions more pleasant, it’s an act of selflessness.
It’s not always easy to stay positive, but when you do, you spread that positivity to other people. And that positivity has a ripple effect! Those people will go and talk to other people and make them happier, and so on and so forth. You just changed the world just by staying positive!
Questions After Compliments
If you’re anything like me, one of the most socially awkward scenarios imaginable is when someone gives you a compliment.
I don’t exactly know what it is, but even getting the kindest and most genuine compliment can sometimes make my skin crawl. However, there’s a great hard-and-fast rule for making compliments less awkward.
Whether you’re giving or receiving a compliment, always follow it up with a question. This will naturally deflect any potential awkwardness and will move the conversation along.
If you’re receiving a compliment, you won’t have to worry about whether or not to give a compliment in return. If you’re giving the compliment, you won’t have to mull over whether your compliment sounded strange or not.
It also doesn’t have to be the most creative question in the world. After the compliment has been given, you can totally just segue with, “Anyway, how are you?” Boom. The awkwardness of the compliment is gone and the conversation moves on.
Embrace Your Inner Awkward
At the end of the day, it comes down to loving who you are. If you love yourself, others are going to love you, too. If you’re naturally an awkward mess, accept it and make light of it. Sure, people love Angelina Jolie and George Clooney, but they also love Michael Cera and Zooey Deschanel.
Sometimes, accepting your awkwardness can be your greatest strength.
If you find yourself at a party having just said something that you know was extremely awkward, maybe just try laughing and saying, “Wow, that was super awkward.” Chances are that someone else will join in the laughter.
Once you learn to love yourself and be less critical of yourself, you can laugh at your own awkwardness and accept it as part of who you are. If people can tell that you love yourself despite being the most awkward person on the planet, then they’ll surely love you, too.