In today’s modern world, being social and likable is considered to be an extremely important quality. People who are able to open up to strangers and strike a conversation are considered charming and approachable. Human beings are usually characterized as either extroverts or introverts, meaning that some are more open towards everyone than the others. And, for those who are socially awkward, how to be more social is often a big challenge.
Why Do You Need to Learn ‘How to Be More Social’?
Social awkwardness can cause children to develop mood disorders like anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. As adults, they may resort to bad company and drugs to deal with these issues. That is why, it is important for them to learn how to be more social.
Being an introvert is not necessarily a bad thing for those who have social anxiety. But, to function properly in a society or at a workplace, it is important that you feel confident about holding a conversation with those around you. Additionally, the more outspoken you are, the better chances you have of being noticed among your social circle as well as at work.
After all, you won’t want that perfect promotion opportunity to pass you by just because you didn’t hang out long enough at office gatherings, would you?
Being an introvert is somewhat more serious amongst young children and teenagers. The early years of life shape who we become in our future. It decides the kind of person we become and the kind of people that come to be our social circle. And, we all know that nobody really likes or notices those who fail to make eye contact with others or carry out interesting conversations.
Being avoided or looked down upon for being different or being shy can be a major setback for a teenager’s confidence who is just starting to live their life. Social awkwardness can also cause children and teenagers to:
- Harbor a feeling of self-doubt
- Suffer from anxiety, depression, and social pressure
- Feel unwanted, unappreciated, and dispensable
- May make them feel that their parents and friends do not love or care for them
- It may lead them to grow as rebels filled with negativity towards the world
- May push them towards bad company and habits (drugs, alcohol, etc.)
Your communication and interpersonal skills are as important, if not more, as your abilities and dedication. Most people spend years stuck at the same position and job just because they lack the ability to show their achievements to those who need to see it.
As shallow as it may be, sometimes, you do need to be your own spokesperson and display your work with grandeur and charm. Failure to do so can result in extreme demotivation and frustration, and lead to more serious problems such as anxiety and depression.
Have you wondered why these social skills come more naturally to some than others? Or, why, in most groups or schools or other public places, there are some that everybody knows, and then there are those who nobody notices?
Let us discuss what it means to be an introvert and how you could change that and be socially successful.
Introvert vs Extrovert – The Difference
Introverts are more comfortable on their own and would rather spend time with their family. They like to rest after a busy day. Extroverts are more comfortable in large groups, enjoy social events, and love being the center of attention.
Since time immemorial, there have been several personality tests invented by psychologists and therapists from all over the world that help us assess our personality type. These tests are mostly designed to make us more self-aware and assist us in handling our personal and professional life better.
However, one of the most fundamental factors of these tests are to find out if you are an extrovert or an introvert. Most people would usually define an extrovert as someone more open and socially confident than the others. However, it is much more than just being outgoing or shy.
To understand these two character types better, it is safe to say that –
What is an Introvert Person?
- Feel more comfortable being on their own
- Would rather spend time with their family members and a couple of other really close friends than with a large group of colleagues or even relatives or acquaintances
- Often require resting after a busy workday or a busy weekend
- Require more time to process thoughts
- Are self-sufficient most of the times
What Type of Person is an Extrovert?
- Would rather be with large group of people than being alone
- Love social events, parties, and huge gatherings
- Recharge when spending quality time with others
- Love being the center of attention
- Are talkative and usually the first to talk to people
Among the many online personality tests that help assess our personalities, the Myers & Briggs Type Indicator test, also known as MBTI Instrument, is one of the most popular tests taken by hundreds of individuals all over the world.
5 Things to Keep in Mind Before You Learn ‘How to Be More Social’
Do not try to be more social because of any peer pressure and need to fit in. You should also not compare yourself to anyone, or try to prove anything to anybody. If you want to be more social, first analyze why you want to do it, and then change things slowly.
Trying to make a major change in your life is almost the same as trying a new product or medicine. Before you try it, you must read the ingredients, usage, warnings, and other details. Likewise, before you decide to try and be more social, you need to know what it means to be social and where to draw a line.
1. Do it for the right reason
We agree that everyone should have a substantial level of social confidence. But what is your reason to want to make that change? Is it because you feel some sort of pressure to fit into your circle or want others to pay attention to you? Or, is it because you genuinely want to go out more?
Understand that you have no obligation to fulfill other’s wants and expectations. Your need to be social should only exist because you wish to be more open, spend more time with people you care for, meet new people, and learn new things.
If you decide to be more social because of any other reason besides your own desire to do so, you will start feeling trapped in social situations. This can lead to frustration and it can also seep into your interactions with other people.
As a result, you may end up distancing people instead of befriending them. Thus, it is very important that you decide to make this radical change only after careful analysis of your own motivations.
2. Don’t compare yourself with anyone
It’s strange but true that two siblings born from the same parents can be totally opposite in nature. One may be the showstopper at every party and every gathering, while the other may fake a headache to avoid socializing with a bunch of people.
Similarly, your best friend could be this Rockstar everyone adores while you may sometimes question the fact that you two are even best friends. But, what good would it do to compare yourself with anybody who is not you?
Instead, focus more on your qualities and what makes you unique. Everyone is different and you may think being social is more important than anything you do. But that is not true.
In society, everyone has their role to play. And while it may not be obvious all the time, being introverted has its own advantages that you may be overlooking. So instead of comparing yourself with a more outgoing friend, focus on your strengths and remind yourself of them every once in a while.
3. Don’t try to prove anything to anybody
The only person who you need to prove anything to you (and perhaps your parents). Don’t try to change yourself, socially or otherwise, because you feel the need to prove someone wrong. If people don’t understand your reasons for being who you are, smile and walk away with your head held high. But, do not let what others say define your life or your actions.
4. It’s okay to be an extroverted-introvert
It is true that most people are categorized as either extrovert or introvert. However, you’d be surprised to know that there are a handful of people who refuse to be labeled by any social labels. You could be someone who loves hanging out with their friends on a Saturday but would rather read a book and take a walk by yourself on Sunday. You could be someone who enjoys nightclubs as much as a cup of coffee and a nice conversation.
5. Take one step at a time
Trying to be more social after spending years being in your own cocoon can be overwhelming. If you rush into it, it may even be emotionally and morally damaging. Understand that the way you have been so far is your comfort zone. Trying to break out of it and being someone different takes thoughtful planning. Just because you decided to be more open, it doesn’t mean you have to do it all in one day.
Even the most outgoing people must take a break every now and then. This break from their social life allows them to get in-sync with their own life and thoughts. It lets them stay still for a few moments and take note of how blessed they are with everything they have.
Being surrounded by people all the time can be exhausting, even for most of the social butterflies. That is why, everyone must take some time to read a book, listen to a song they like, go out in nature, or just be quiet and meditate.
10 Tips on ‘How To Be More Social’
To be more social, first you need to understand why you are doing it. Then, write down what you like about yourself, and remove the fear of rejection. Smile more and work on your body language to make it more inviting. Learn how to make small talk, and keep an open mind towards everything.
So far, we have discussed the character traits of extroverts and introverts, and we have looked at some significant things to keep in mind before you decide to make that change in life. Now, let us talk about a few things that you can actually implement in your life, daily and for long-term, to transform your introverted personality into someone who isn’t scared of facing social situations.
1. Take a deeper look within
This may sound strange but the first step towards being outgoing is to take a look within. Before you do anything else, it is important that you analyze the reasons behind being socially awkward. Do you feel insecure about the way you look? Or, do you think people may find you boring? Or, did something in the past brought negativity in you towards trusting or opening up to people?
As mentioned before, being social because of the wrong reasons can be very detrimental to your state of mind. Additionally, it can cause the development of or aggravation of mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. In such cases, it is recommended to seek the help of a physician and try to get to the root of the problem, instead of trying superficial measures.
2. Write down your positive qualities
This may seem funny, but it is true that the second most important step towards changing your personality is to acknowledge the good in you. No matter how low you may have come to think of yourself, when you sit with a pen and paper long enough, there will be plenty of positive things you would find. Don’t think too far into the past. Take into account the past year and ask yourself:
- What is the one thing that you feel extremely proud of achieving the past year?
- What are the new things you have learned, discovered, or earned?
- How about those few friends you have? Are they still your friends?
- What are the things that you always get complimented on?
- What is the one (or four) things you have done in the past year that made a change in someone else’s life?
3. Get rid of your fear of rejection
Even the best of people often tends to suffer from the fear of rejection – rejection by someone they like, rejection of an idea, rejection of an effort to mend a broken relationship. But, when you get rejected, you earn an opportunity to be better than what you were. The only thing in your control of yourself; everything else has its own way. And, the sooner you accept it and learn to say, ‘so what?’, the better you would be at changing your life.
Indeed, getting rid of the fear of rejection will help you in other areas of your life as well. Most of us don’t undertake any new ventures because of this fear. You can start overcoming this problem by initiating conversations with more and more people. Eventually, you will start getting better at it and you will be able to employ this skill even in other areas of your life.
The smallest and the most significant step at being social is your ability to smile. It may take some practice to smile at everyone, friends as well as strangers. But, the more you practice smiling at others, the more confident your body language would become. Researchers have also stated that smiling, even when you don’t feel happy, can trick your brain into releasing happy hormones. So, no matter how low or hesitant you feel, put on a smile and fake it until it actually becomes a part of you.
Smiling has been known to trigger positive emotions in your mind, and enabling your body to release endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin which are known to lift your spirits and calm your nerves. It is also known to make it easier for socially awkward people to talk to strangers.
5. Work on your body language
Whenever you find yourself at a social gathering, make extra efforts to look pleasing, happy, and approachable. This isn’t because you suddenly want to be accepted by everybody. This is just so people can feel like they could walk up to you for a chat. If you are at a party or a dinner with a bunch of people you are new to, walk around smiling, nod to people now and then, look people in the eye rather than looking at your feet and excusing yourself.
6. Make small talks
One of the key factors in becoming more social is the ability to make small talk, especially when you are amongst new people. Remember, you may not be the only introvert in a room full of strangers, but you may be mentally stronger than the rest. If they don’t feel they can talk to anyone, walk up to them and start by introducing yourself. Then, ask them about who they are and how they are feeling. Most people love talking about themselves, but they don’t know how to start.
7. Be genuine
Whether you are catching up with a good friend or meeting someone totally new, be genuinely present in the conversation. Keep away from your phone, avoid looking at the watch, and basically, stop doing anything that shows your disinterest in what others are saying. Being completely present not only tells others that you are compassionate, but it also makes for some really interesting conversations.
8. Keep an open-mind
When you start being social, one of the critical things that you would notice is how humans are different – in their thoughts, life choices, opinions about matters, decision making, and many others. You are likely to meet people from all walks of life when you start meeting new people. It is important that you keep an open-mind towards everyone.
You don’t have to necessarily agree with everything, but it is imperative that you be respectful towards others’ beliefs. Sometimes, the best friendships and relationships comprise two extremely distinctive people who challenge each other for the better.
9. Invite and be invited
As an introvert, it is highly likely that you usually wait for your friends and family to reach out to you for social gatherings. Surprise them (and yourself) by throwing a party or an event and reaching out to them, even those close friends from high school that you lost contact with. And, when someone invites you for dinner or a movie, stop faking a headache and go out.
10. Make time for your life
If your weekdays are overloaded with work, find a community activity or a group outing to attend on the weekend. Make time for the people in your life. That way, you not only improve your social skills but give yourself a chance to unwind and rejuvenate your mind before the next hectic week starts.
While some people are just introverted in nature, others may actually suffer from certain mental health conditions that prevent them from being surrounded by people. Keep in mind that your well-being is as important as being social, maybe even more. But, if there’s nothing stopping you from making yourself available and form new bonds and friendships, take a leap of faith and get out of that comfort zone. Take the time you need and gradually begin to transform your life – one step at a time.
Namrata is a Doctor i.e. dentist turned writer and a clinical researcher. Eager to learn about anything and everything, she is what you would call a jack of all trades and master of none. With a zeal for reading novels, books, and anything she could get her hands on ever since she was little, she embarked into a writing career purely out of luck. After indulging in a freelancing career for nearly two years, she can now write on anything - from dentistry to decor, travel to technology, medicine to management - but the psychology remains her first love. Having dealt with mental health issues in the past, she hopes to raise awareness for the same and help people with her work in association with The MindFool team