Are you socially awkward? Here’s a question. Do you have a hard time talking to people at parties?
How about at work with people you already kind of know? Do you avoid neighbors? Is there any situation where it’s easy talking to people? If the answer to some of these questions is no, then you may be socially awkward. Don’t worry much about it. You can get better but first, it may be a good idea to identify if you are.
Every year, more and more of our social existence is virtual. These are social interactions that are not face to face which is quite different. With social media, we can take time carefully choosing the words, pictures, and videos that represent who we are. And we can do this wherever and whenever we want. This is super cool but has some negative results.
TOO MUCH SOCIAL MEDIA WILL MAkE YOU SOCIALLY AWkWARD
It has become a fairly well-known thing. Social media is not accurate. People are creating false images of who they are. They are posting perfect pics of them at perfect angles that make them look much better than they are. They are also stating that they are doing all these things that they are not doing. Your real-life seems pathetic and boring compared to the life that many are claiming by their postings. The sad truth is that many of these great looking lives portrayed on Facebook or Instagram are bullshit created and maintained by people who barely go outside and do anything.
Also, doing too much social media is a lot like watching too much porn. It screws up your reality. It makes you not go to that concert or meet friends for dinner or go to that yoga class or car show or anything that is outside of your front door. I mean, why go out and brave your imperfect self in an imperfect world when you can stay home, sit on your (getting bigger) ass and make it appear like you are coolest, healthiest, most adventurous dude on the planet? This is not good.
Here is an article by Forbes Magazine that details the effects of social media on your mental health that is worth reading.
SO ARE YOU SOCIALLY AWKWARD OR NOT?
This was an easier question to answer in the eighties than now. It may be hard to tell if you are socially awkward or just have had your head in your phone too much for the last few years. The only way to really tell will be based on what you do in the real world and what reactions you get out there. So if you want, commit to going to a couple of events where there are people that you can talk to and record the following observations. And I don’t mean record them on your phone. That would be creepy. Record them in your mind.
GO TO A GATHERING AND THEN AFTER, ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS:
- Did I make an effort to dress appropriately for the event? Did I at least brush my hair?
- Did I join in on a conversation that at least two other people were already having?
- Did I contribute any good stories or facts to some conversations?
- Was I funny? Did I make anyone laugh?
- Did I meet anyone new and exchange info or at least later friend them on Facebook?
- Was I standing or sitting by myself during the gathering for any length of time?
- Did I participate or contribute to any events of the gathering?
- Did I sing or dance or laugh a lot?
- Did I drink alcohol or smoke any weed with anyone?
- Did I have a good time?
- Do you think others liked you? Did you like some other people?
- When I left the gathering, did I say “goodbye” to anyone?
If by answering the above questions, you discovered that you didn’t engage much with other people and when you did, it didn’t go or get smooth and easy as time went on, then you may be socially awkward. You also may just be out of practice.
DON’T WANT TO GO OUT TO FIND OUT? HERE ARE 14 SIGNS THAT YOU MIGHT BE SOCIALLY AWKWARD
1 You have a hard time relating to people – Has no girl ever said, “He really gets me” when talking about you? Do you not know what to say when a person tells you something about their life?
2 You don’t look forward to going to events or gatherings – Oftentimes, the idea of going out and doing something is much better than actually going out. Socially awkward people feel pressure to commit and then will flake out at the last minute.
3 It’s tough for you to start and keep a conversation going – If talking to people is like pulling your own teeth, then you could be an intolerant asshole. Or you could be socially awkward.
4 What you think is funny, isn’t to others – Some guys fight being socially inept by doing stand-up comedy. If you have ever been to an open mic night for comics somewhere, then you’ve seen this kind of guy. Some will be so “UN” funny, that they wind up being comical.
5 You have issues with eye contact – The art of having good eye contact is rarely acknowledged, but for those who struggle with it know how awesome good eye contact can be. Eye contact issues can include not enough eye to eye engagement, looking away too much, too much eye to eye engagement, and staring from farther away.
6 You get anxiety when thinking about going to an event or gathering – The thought of having to go and be around a bunch of people and having to interact with them can be daunting to some who have issues with being social. This is why some “flake out” at the last minute.
7 It’s hard for you to ask people to go places or do things with you – No person on the planet enjoys rejection, but this is a little more than that. For some, knowing how and when to ask even their buddy to go do something cool is difficult. Also, not knowing whether or not you are asking someone too many times is an issue.
8 You have issues with human touch and proximity – Cultures have different distances that they are comfortable with when standing next to each other. It can be normal then if a Saudi Arabian person feels uncomfortable standing next to a Peruvian as they have less personal space in Peru.
If you feel that most people are standing too close to you when in a social setting, or you get the notion (or are told) that you are standing too close to people, then this could be a sign that you are socially awkward.
9 You prefer to interact with social media instead of social reality – In our world today, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have social issues, however, choosing to spend time alone with your phone instead of going out where real people are will help make that case.
10 You often feel that people get you wrong – Do people often misunderstand what you say? And do feel that people don’t get who you really are?
11 You sometimes don’t understand what people are saying – Not knowing what some guy who drank too much is trying to say in his drunken stupor is one thing. So is not really getting what a foreigner is explaining. But often not knowing what normal people in normal situations are talking about is a definite sign of social awkwardness.
12 You don’t get asked to events much – This stands to reason if you are socially awkward. You also may not get asked to do things much because of your past flake record or that you’ve turned people’s invitations down too much.
13 You don’t have many friends – This may be the biggest sign that you are socially awkward.
17 REAL-WORLD TIPS TO BECOMING MORE SOCIALLY SUCCESSFUL
Nobody wants to have a hard time socially. Nobody! For some, being social comes easy as hell. They don’t have to think about it. They just go out and start chatting it up with anyone. Before they know it, they are everyone’s best buddy. Don’t think for a second though that these social superstars don’t make an effort to be good at it. They do. Success in anything is rarely without effort. If you notice, people who are strong socially have a few things in common. Work on the following things and you’ll become better socially.
1 Be clean.
Take a shower, brush your teeth and get your facial hair in order. Make an effort to look and feel clean. It makes a difference both within you and to others. Believe me. And wear clean, unwrinkled clothes.
2 Make good eye contact
There is an art to having good eye contact. Take some time to study how people you know look at each other. Co-workers, customers, and other acquaintances are good for this. See how many times people blink and look down or away when they talk to others.
Now, discover what your eyes do when talking to someone. Pay attention to where you look, how much you blink, and how those same people look at you when talking. See how your eye contact affects the conversation and record. It’s not an easy task paying attention to eye contact while talking with someone, but it’s well worth the feedback you get and what you can learn about yourself.
Smiling usually demonstrates that a person is happy. And people like being around happy people. You may not be much of a smiler. That’s Ok. I’m not saying to walk around a party with a fake smile plastered on your face. That would be creepy and off-putting.
Don’t force smiling. When you can though, genuinely express your contentment or satisfaction of something with a smile. And show your teeth when you smile when you can. If you don’t like your smile or don’t like your teeth, then smile in the mirror to get used to smiling.
Showing your teeth while smiling demonstrates openness and vulnerability. That is being social. Not showing your teeth or showing little expression displays the opposite as closed off or potentially judgemental. You don’t want that.
4 Dress accordingly
You don’t have to have a lot of money to dress nice but you do have to make an effort. Research some fashion for your age group and try some different clothes. If you have access to a female, use her to help you. She won’t mind. If going to a concert or sporting event, maybe wear something accordingly. Get into the character for the event a little. Wear team colors for the game or a lot of black at a heavy metal concert.
If you’re kind of a weird dresser, then cool. Just make sure you are aware of your style and own that shit.
5 Be aware of personal space
Humans, being a social animal, naturally have comfortable distances between each other depending on their culture and the level of intimacy with the other person. Some who are socially awkward will have difficulty gauging this personal space.
DON’T BE A SPACE INVADER! Americans like their personal space, so give it to them. Keep a distance of more than eighteen inches and you won’t be what is called a “close talker”. And don’t stay too far away either. It’s not as bad but being too far away is not social.
6 Make sure you’re not offensive in any way
It’s easy now to offend people. Our society has gotten so bad that you could offend some people just by proclaiming whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican. Three big topics to initially avoid include religion, politics, and sex. Until you know your audience, a good rule of thumb is to not really have a stance on anything. It’s ok to ask questions to people about some warm topics, but with a neutral position.
Be selective about the swear words you use. Most don’t mind an occasional “shit” or a “fuck”, but there are some religious people who are offended by “goddamn” and “Jesus Christ”. And don’t be vulgar.
Also, don’t be offensive in other ways either. Things like violent gestures, T-shirts with pictures of things like a rooster and a lollipop, and body odor are all majorly offensive no-nos.
7 Try to be genuinely interested in people
What’s everyone’s favorite topic? Themselves of course. Learn to want to listen to people. They can be interesting if you let them be. Get out of your own head and share some thinking space with others. Allow them to be themselves and then you can be yourself.
This can be easier than you think. Just ask people questions about themselves, then settle in and listen. And you have to really listen too so you can then ask follow up questions. Let them talk about themselves and they will love you for it. Later on, they will tell their friends what a cool guy you are. You may not really be cool but they will think you are just because you genuinely listened to them about their lives.
As an added bonus, remember the conversation you had with them so the next time you see them, you can follow up with them. If you were genuine the first time you talked with them, you will want to know what’s been going on with what they told you about.
I know this sounds very mechanical, but learning to let people talk about themselves while genuinely listening to them will make you friends and make you a very likable guy. This is social gold!
8 Go out in the real world often
When I was a kid, my dad used to say “You gotta circulate to percolate”. The more you go out and do things, the better you will get a being social. Make it a point to leave your domicile and be where other people physically are more than you do now. Once you get used to doing it more, then plan to do it even more.
Woody Allen once said, “Showing up is 80% of life“. Nothing is truer when being social. You can read a lot of theories and techniques on being less socially awkward, but going and being with people will teach you much more.
9 Read the news and/or stay up with pop culture
Ok this is a trick but works well when you find yourself not knowing what to say. Before going out to an event, scan the news and find some current stories that you can talk a little about. “Hey what do you think about this or that that happened today?” can help a lot with starting a conversation or keeping one going.
Knowing some pop culture is an excellent way to converse with people. Movies, Netflix shows, Youtube videos, music, and other tv shows are excellent neutral topics that build connections and reveal some passion that people have and want to talk about. And chances are, you’re going to find things to relate to with others with pop culture. Most of it is good, non-toxic, light and fluffy stuff to comment, agree, and disagree on.
10 Learn and tell some jokes
A couple of years ago, I went with a group to Costa Rica for a week. Nobody knew one of the guys in our group as he was a new boyfriend of one of our yoga group. This guy, Bill was kind of socially awkward, but he made friends of us all in short time because he told jokes.
It was obvious that Bill had some social ineptness, but he learned to overcome this by remembering and learning to tell jokes well. And since jokes are fun and light, he got through the initial friend-making process easily, he and the rest of us had a great social time in CR.
11 You are in your own head too much. Get out of your headspace
The whole idea of being social is to occupy the same time and space with other people. You can be around people, but if you are still in your own head too much, you can’t connect with them.
It’s comfortable being in your own head. You know where everything is and no one challenges you. This is absolutely the number one enemy to being a social person though. The easiest way that I know of getting out of your head is to get into someone else’s. Force yourself to ask questions about others and force yourself to listen to and absorb the information. Replace your overbearing inner voice with the voices of others. This won’t be easy.
12 Be a more interesting person to others (learn to do things)
So much of being strong socially is having the ability to connect with people. The easiest way to do this is to have things to connect them with. Having an interest in almost anything along with some knowledge and an opinion on the topic will make you more interesting.
You could know how to build something, follow quantum physics, can identify dog breeds, know about the history of a particular culture or region, be well-read of American authors, can explain why a helicopter flies, know a second language, know-how bees communicate, or anything else that people can find interesting.
You’re already probably trolling the internet to find out interesting stuff. Retain that some of that info so you can share it at your next gathering and be more interesting than you are.
Also, travel is interesting to almost everyone. Feel free to share stories of the places you’ve been to and what you experienced. Do some research on where you want to go next or in the next and share your excitement for your travel future. And you don’t have to want to go to Machu Picchu to study the earth’s energy to be interesting with travel. You may be passionate about trains and are planning a trip to Pennsylvania to see the cool ones there and that makes for interesting conversation.
13 Join groups and go to their events
With our current cultures’ high level of communication, we all have access to tons of groups. No matter what your interest is, chances are, there’s a group that you can join for it.
Years ago just after my divorce, I was in need of some new friends and a new life. One of the things I did was to join a few groups from Meetup.com. I picked a couple of groups close to my part of town and started going to some of their events. Even though I am a very social guy, it wasn’t easy going to a place and not knowing even one person. What helped is that there were people just like me at these events, so our nervousness and anxiety were shared.
These meetups got easier fast as even the second event to the same group had a couple of people I met in the first event. And that helped a lot. In short order, I became a regular at these meetups and was able to develop a social life after my divorce with it.
What’s best about joining groups that have real-life events is that many people are going who have the same life situations and social awkwardness as you might have, so it’s a more comfortable environment for all.
14 When asked to do something, say “yes” and actually go.
It is super common for socially awkward people to get invited to things and they not go. Socially awkward people usually have social anxiety as well. This prevents them from following through and actually going to things.
Come hell or high water, if you get asked to go do something socially, you say yes and fucking go! This may seem overly fundamental, but so many people who have a hard time socially, don’t go to social events. And how are you going to improve on your awkwardness without the practice of being around people?
Even the socially strongest people have some anxiety about going to things. I am extremely social and deal with it at times, but it never stops me from going to something. And you have to be careful with saying “no” to an invitation or not showing up. People don’t like rejection in any form. If someone notices that they invited you to even two things and you didn’t go, they may never ask you to anything again.
This is why a social guy like me goes to things even if I really don’t want to. I want to make sure I get asked to future events. Being good socially is like anything else in life. It takes effort and work.
15 Being social is about connecting. Learn to connect
This may be a broad-stroked tip for being better socially, but it’s worth conceptualizing. You connect with people when you share stories, talk about childhood, do physical events together, travel together, care, are available, help them, laugh with them, cry with them, eat with them, go to where they live, trust them, and are there for them.
Some people are socially strong and don’t connect much to people. They go out and basically use others as an audience so they can entertain. These people are super out-going and appear to be social giants, but they aren’t. After they have used up their energy making people laugh and buying rounds, they go home alone and are deeply depressed. This is almost bi-polar behavior and is not at all ideal.
You don’t have to be the life of the party to be social. You just have to connect with people. And you can accomplish this quietly and unassuming if that’s who you are.
16 Offer to help and let others help you
Not to get side-tracked here, but I find our society quite comical when comes to helping and giving. Everywhere on social media, you see and hear about helping out people in faraway places and saving the planet. And they will give(in a manner of ultra-convenience) some money to one charity or another fundraiser. But how much do these same people help the people close to them or even in their own social community? And there’s a difference between “giving” and “helping”.
As a guy with a pick-up truck for my entire driving life, I’ve have had tons of opportunity to help friends and acquaintances with moving shit. And it can suck to have to give up a half of a Sunday to help someone with my truck, but it has almost always been worth it. Almost.
It may make you feel good about yourself by rolling your car window down halfway to give that drunk or meth head a couple bucks at the red light because he doesn’t want to work. When you give up your Saturday to help someone you know move, the person you helped feels good about you! That’s a big difference. When you can offer to help people you know in whatever way you can. This will strengthen you socially.
Also, allow people in your life to help you when you need it. Being able to express this level of vulnerability makes for good social connections.
17 Don’t be toxic!
There are so many ways people can be toxic to each other. Some people are great, except when they start drinking. Others are always talking negative shit that leaves others irritated, sad, or angry. There are guys who always get you to drink too much and stay out too late, while others make you feel guilty by talking about how we all should be spending our lives saving the planet or being involved with the government.
My favorite toxic person is the one who sucks all the energy out of you and the room with their personal dramas. These succubuses will take all of your good social energy and make you just want to go home and kick your dog.
Don’t toxic to people. When people leave from being around you, they should feel good and energized, not drained and suicidal. Keep the convo light, non-judgmental, and positive. Make people want to be around you again instead of wanting to avoid you next time.