7 Simple Strategies to Improve Your Social Skills

By AAwosika07 | Uncategorized

Jan 31
social skills

Most people who see me speak in public or on camera, or by observing the tone I write with, probably wouldn’t know this about me, but I’m quite introverted.

I like performing and being in front of people, but when it comes to 1 on 1 interaction and social gatherings, I’m actually prone to be more of a wallflower.

Correction, I was prone to being a wallflower.

Being the self-improvement nerd that I am, I decided I wanted to get better at my social skills.

After studying and taking my insights into the field to test them out, here are some of the most effective strategies I’ve used to break out of my shell.

Not That it Needs to be Said, But it Kind of Does

This is a novel idea, but, it’s the foundation of building better social skills.

Are you ready for it?

Ok, here goes.

Leave the house. 

You’re not going to get better socially if you don’t actually go out and do things. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a club or bar type of person. Do the things you like to do. Find hobbies, events, and gatherings based on the things you enjoy and you’ll find like-minded people.

Most people who have a desire to build better social skills stay stuck because they literally don’t get out enough. The more you go out, the more comfortable you feel in public environments.

A lot of people make the excuse that they are a “homebody.” While it’s true that introverts gain more energy by being alone and staying home, it’s not an excuse to become so reclusive that your social skills stall.

When your friends invite you to that party, go instead of flaking like you’re prone to.

If you’re at the coffee shop and you see a flier for a cool event, go to it.

Say yes to every opportunity to go out and socialize and it’ll become easier over time.

Focus On This Instead of What to Say

Social skills have almost nothing to do with thinking. Actually, the more you think, the worse you come across.

All great conversations and social interactions have one thing in common — good vibes.

Your goal isn’t to have the perfect thing to say, but rather to have fun and share positive energy with other people.

Often, introverted people are very logical and rational. If this describes you, focus not so much on what to say, but simply feeling good in your body while you say it. Find ways to laugh. Look for the humor in your interactions. Don’t try hard. Always focus on the vibe.

Some practical ways you can do this are:

  • Smile – Try smiling right now and feeling sad at the same time. You can’t. Your body language can affect the way you feel. If you’re feeling a little bit anxious and stifled in a social setting, try pasting a smile on your face even if it feels unnatural. You can cultivate those positive feelings.
  • Stay present to the moment – Stop thinking. I know, easy for me to say, right? But the more present you are to the moment, the less you’ll be focused on what to say. Actively concentrate on what’s going on in the moment, listen when others are talking, then the right thing to say can and will pop up when it’s your turn to talk.
  • Be a total dork – Don’t try to be cool in any shape or form. Don’t try to impress people. People don’t go to social gatherings to have a coolness contest. They want to unwind and have fun. Be goofy. Crack jokes. Tease. Laugh.

Your Training Starts As Soon As You Walk Out the Door

When you’re at the register at the coffee shop, chat up the employee. Talk to the people in front and behind you in lines. Talk to anyone in your vicinity at all times.

Again, just with that good vibe.

When I moved to a new city after my divorce, my social skills had eroded to almost zero. Prior to that, I’d spent most of my time with family and very close friends while spending little to no time talking to strangers out going out.

The first thing I did to turn things around was made it a point to talk to random people. It could be as simple as making eye contact with someone and saying “good morning.”

Whenever I’m interacting with retail staff, I make it a point to be over the top nice to them and brighten up their day.  In general, I tried to talk to as many people as possible to just send a little ping of good energy their way.

When you start talking to random people you realize a few things:

  • They don’t bite – People are, for the most part, quite nice. I’ve yet to run into someone who was rude when I tried to strike up a conversation.
  • People are craving for interaction – We all live in our little bubbles, eyes glued to our phones. People, from both platonic to romantic interactions, often appreciate when you take the time to come talk to them in a friendly way.
  • Small talk is the key to success – I used to think small talk was boring and useless. I realize that was my overly rational mind talking. It takes real social intelligence to ‘shoot the shit’ properly. Practice it and you’ll see avenues open up and connections will start to form.

Work From the Outside In

Along with smiling, there are some other physiological and body language techniques you can use to not only feel more confident and sociable but come across that way.

Try slumping your shoulders right now. How do you feel? Probably like a loser. Now stand up razor straight. How do you feel? Confident, powerful, maybe even like a drill sergeant.

Now stand up straight, but not super razor straight — relaxed. Put your shoulders back a little bit. Now you have expansive body language — confident but also chill.

It seems silly to actively practice things like posture and smiling, but it works. If you focused on those two things alone, you’d be off to a great start.

Others you can work on:

  • Eye contact – Don’t stare at people like a sociopath, but try making and holding eye contact with people when you talk to them. It’s a little uncomfortable to do this, but if you can master the ability to make eye contact, you’ll come across as confident and attentive. Smile with your eyes. Practice having that warm yet confident gaze.
  • Talk louder – If you’re soft-spoken and your voice doesn’t carry…try to make it carry. Talk from your stomach and diaphragm instead of your head. Actively work on projecting your voice. Again, easy for me to say, right? But try it.
  • Notice tensions in your body and relax them – If you get anxious in social situations, it’s going to show up somewhere in your body. Maybe your neck tenses up. It could be your back. Maybe you hold your breath and forget to breathe at regular intervals. Whatever it is, notice and try to relax it. This goes back to staying present in the moment so you can focus on those sensations when they arise.

Shift Your Focus

Staying present to the moment, vibing, making eye contact with others, all derive from the premise that you should focus on other people instead of yourself if you want to get better socially.

Anxiety and nervousness signal that you’re only worried about what you can gain from the situation. Try focusing on what you can give to other people instead.

A simple and easy strategy you can use to become better at social skills is genuinely listening to other people. Think of these words from the late great Steven Covey:

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply.”

In your need to think of what to say next, you miss out on the easiest way to make people feel like you’re a great conversationalist. Just listen to what they say deeply, pingback a version of that they just said, and keep giving them room to share, and they’ll love you.

When you put the focus on them, you get to practice these techniques that form social bonds:

  • Commonalities – People like being around people who are like them. If you’re talking to someone, listen for the things you have in common and let them know you have them in common.
  • Areas to spike emotions – When people talk about something they love, like a hobby or vacations they took, emphasize and highlight those things so they associate positive emotions with talking to you.
  • Giving people space – When you come across as waiting to reply and needing to know what to say next, you project insecurity. Giving people room and space, e.g., literally allowing time for pauses, projects that present and empathetic energy that people love.

Become a True Student of Social Skills

If you want to actively work on these, the straightest path would be taking a class on social skills or even joining a club. I’m in three different ToastMasters clubs.

I’ve seen people go from total wallflowers who were visibly shaking during their first speech to people who feel quite comfortable both on stage and their interactions with other people.

There are a ton of courses you can take on developing better social skills. People School by Vanessa Van Edwards and How to Talk to Anyone by Ramit Sethi are both great from what I’ve heard — one of Ramit’s business coaching students Sarah Jones runs a dating coach website for men called Introverted Alpha.

Also, you can go to this amazing website that gives you infinite access to all the education you need.

Ready for it? It’s called…YouTube.

I have no shame in admitting that I actively study how to become better socially, both in dating and networking situations. To me, it’s weirder to not work on these things than it is to work on them.

The people who will tell you it’s weird to work on stuff like this…often don’t have the results they want socially.

When you don’t actively work on your social skills you can suffer all sorts of consequences:

  • Dating out of convenience and proximity instead of finding a partner you truly connect with
  • Missing out on business connections and opportunities that can help you make more income
  • Maybe most importantly, just getting to meet new and amazing people, in general

This leads to my final and most important piece of advice.

Focus on Being Your (Real) Self

There are two different ways to be yourself.

The first way? Do absolutely nothing to work on your social skills or how you present yourself and expect people to accept you just as you are with zero percent effort — then get mad when they don’t.

The right way? Focus on being your real self, your full self, the self that wants to break out of you.

Our culture has this aversion to actively working on yourself. Why? You wouldn’t just put a product you wanted to sell in bland packaging, would you? So why would you just expect people to just get you when you’ve done nothing to add any value or share those good vibes?

Don’t fall into the “this is just the way I am” trap.

No, you think this version of you is the real you, but it isn’t. Your current version uses all of these rationalizations for not improving. It’s more authentic to work on yourself than it is to do this whole fake self-love routine.

You have a lot to offer the world. I don’t care who you are.  You have a gift to give. Working on your social skills, in general, is like creating the wrapping for that gift.

You don’t want to be fake and you do want to focus on being yourself, kicking back, and having a good time, but also understand that social skills are learnable skills you want to get better at so that people can get to know the real you.

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