Do you feel awkward at social events or struggle to make conversation with new people because you feel shy? If the answer is yes, your social skills could use a little improvement. Social skills are becoming increasingly important in today’s world. Whether it is for the purpose of making friends, enjoying your life to the fullest or progressing in your career, social skills prove to be useful in all kinds of situations.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways you can improve your social skills. We have compiled some of our top tips to help you become your most confident self at social events.
1. Be Proactive in Social Gatherings
People who are introverts and shy by nature don’t know how to act in an unfamiliar environment. They think that whatever they will say will make them appear awkward and unlikable.
Many psychologists believe that social awkwardness often stems from a lack of self-assurance. If you keep telling yourself that you can’t do something in your head, chances are you will not be able to do it. By having such a thought process, you push yourself into self-doubt without any external influence.
One thing you can do to improve your social skills is to be proactive in all your engagements. Don’t wait for someone else to come to you and strike up a conversation. Not many people will be willing to interact with an individual who gives off nervous and awkward energy from a mile away.
Challenge yourself to introduce yourself first to at least one person within a minute of you entering a social setting. The longer you take to talk to people, the harder it will be for you to let go of your inhibitions.
2. Join Social Platforms
It is the 21st century and you can find almost anyone on social networking sites. These sites help you practice your conversational skills since you don’t have to worry about your appearance and long-term engagements. If you don’t like someone then you can simply block them, and you will never have to deal with them again.
Social networking sites are not the only way to increase your social exposure. There are various platforms and organizations that bring together groups of like-minded people for activities that they mutually enjoy. For instance, you are likely to find book clubs, yoga or exercise groups, people who gather for movie screenings, to name a few. These platforms provide a great way to expose yourself to new people and work on your social skills.
The more you interact with people, the better you’ll get in dealing with awkward social interactions. You can use these places as your practice ground so that you don’t embarrass yourself in a more formal or professional setting. If things go wrong, you have nothing to lose but if they turn out well, you’ll have more friends who share the same interests as you!
3. Engage in Social Work
Social work can be a great way to increase your exposure as you will be directly working with people to improve their lives. There are so many people in society who need help. Whether they are struggling physically, emotionally or financially, they need someone to care for them and help them come out of their current state. You can do something for such people by working as a social worker. Once you realize that there are people who genuinely need you, you will make a conscious effort to interact with them.
Now you may be wondering what the career benefits are for those who choose this profession. The best part of becoming a social worker is that professionals in this field are very much in demand and their social life is highly admirable as well. It is a financially rewarding career path and considering the positive difference you make to peoples’ lives, it is one of the most satisfying jobs out there today.
You can sign up for a Bachelor or Master of Social Work online degree programs to kick start your journey as a social worker. You can do volunteer work without it too, but a certificate or degree to list on your resume is always helpful for your career.
4. Shake Off your Fears
If you’ve been living in your awkward bubble for a long time, then you’ll know how harmful it is for your professional growth. You have an amazing idea that you want to pitch in at a meeting or during a group discussion, but your social anxiety doesn’t let you speak up. Meanwhile, someone else steals your thunder by proposing the same idea or opinion that you had been mulling over in your head.
You must work on things that are hindering your professional growth and social anxiety is one of them. It makes you overthink and fear judgment from your peers and everyone else. Learn to shake off your fears or any feeling of self-doubt as soon as they cross your mind. Instead, tell yourself that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.
5. Hone your Conversational Skills
It is one thing to be socially awkward and another to not know how to communicate effectively with people. There are many instances where people are refused opportunities based on their ability to interact with others. Appearing too confident or too nervous can both reduce your chances of getting social recognition immensely. You must strike a balance between these two traits when in a public setting.
Practice your conversational skills during family gatherings and among your friends. Learn the art of initiating a conversation smoothly without fumbling over your words. Use open-ended questions to maintain the flow of the conversation and throw in some double-barreled questions as well. This way the other person will have to talk more, and you won’t be the center of the conversation.
However, it is important to talk about yourself as well otherwise the other person will feel like you are interrogating them. Appearing too inquisitive in your approach can make other people feel uncomfortable.
6. Get Professional Help
Some people find it hard to interact with people because of serious mental health problems such as social anxiety disorder. Such a condition can make it challenging for them to carry out even small conversations in a familiar setting.
If nothing has worked for you in improving your social skills and you think you have a more serious problem, it is best to seek professional help.
Social skills are extremely important for your growth as an individual as they significantly affect all aspects of your life. People who are good at striking up a conversation and making others feel comfortable are often given professional and personal favors, without even having to ask for them.
Therefore, you must improve your social skills to be respected and appreciated among your peers. It is no surprise that socially active people are more successful in their professional life than those who are not.