How To Be More Social – The Complete Guide

Scientifically reviewed by Viktor Sander B.Sc., B.A.

 “I’m not a social person, and I want to be better at socializing. But I don’t like small talk, and the thought of talking to strangers makes me anxious.”

– Jordan

I used to be an awkward person who spent most of my time alone. But over the years, I’ve learned how to be social.

If you feel like you spend too much time by yourself, or if you don’t say much when you’re around people, this guide is for you. Here’s a quick summary.

Follow these steps to be more social:

  1. Say yes to invitations
  2. Use a friendly and relaxed body language
  3. Ask personal questions to get past small talk
  4. Focus on your surroundings to feel less self-conscious
  5. Seek out groups related to your interests
  6. Open up about yourself
  7. Don’t try to make people like you, make them like being with you

In this guide, we’ll go in-depth into what you need to know to be social as an adult in your 20s, 30s, 40s, or 50s.

Chapters

  1. Making Conversation and Knowing What To Say
  2. Improving Your Social Confidence
  3. Getting A Better Social Life
  4. Socializing As An Introvert
  5. How To Act When Socializing
  6. How To Become A More Interesting Person
  7. Life Situations & Events Where You Might Want To Be More Social

“Why am I antisocial?” – What to do if you don’t like socializing

First, let’s clarify the difference between “asocial” and “antisocial.”

If you are asocial, you are indifferent to socializing because you don’t enjoy it. If you are antisocial, you dislike people or society.

At times, I’ve told myself that “people are stupid anyway,” and that’s why I didn’t want to be social. But when I gave it more thought, that was often an excuse to avoid the discomfort of having to meet people. Sure, some people are stupid. That doesn’t mean that everyone is.

If you don’t like socializing, remind yourself that there are loads of amazing people in the world. You need to take the initiative if you want to meet them.

(I talk more here about what to do if you don’t like people.)

But even after I had this realization, I would still feel demotivated sometimes. It seemed to take forever to turn a new acquaintance into an actual friend. So, I’d tell myself, why even bother? Does this sound familiar? In this article, we’ll cover several ways to be more social and turn strangers into friends.

Read more in our main articles: Why am I antisocial? and How to not be antisocial.

How to be a people person

A people person (or a “sociable person”) isn’t just good at socializing: they enjoy it. But you don’t have to be a people person to be social. You’ll be able to socialize just fine even if you don’t love it, as long as you learn the right skills.

However, there are some things you can do that can help you enjoy socializing and meeting new people:

  • Spending more time socializing: We tend to like doing things that we are good at. The more time you spend socializing, the better you’ll get at it.
  • Increasing your empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand how others think and feel. If you increase your empathy, you might enjoy socializing more. Why? Because you’ll have a better understanding of why people act the way they do. Empathy is also an important skill for making friends. So if you develop empathy, you’ll probably make friends faster.
  • Finding ways to cope with shyness or social anxiety: It’s normal to dislike or avoid people and social situations if you are shy or anxious. Therefore, learning how to cope with these feelings can help you feel at ease in social situations. Here’s our guide on how to make friends if you have social anxiety.

Chapter 1: Making Conversation and Knowing What To Say

In this section, we’ll cover how to improve your conversation skills so that you don’t run out of things to talk about.

Memorize some universal go-to questions

One of the things that helped me be more social was to memorize a set of questions that I could fire off whenever I was at a party, dinner, or in almost any other social setting.

I realized that it’s enough to memorize these 4 questions:

  1. … Hi, how are you?
  2. … How do you know the people here?
  3. … Where are you from?
  4. … What do you do?

Don’t fire off all four at once. Use them when the conversation starts to dry up. When you have a set of questions to fall back on, it’s easier to make small talk, and people will see you as more social.

I have more detailed conversation advice in my guide on how to start a conversation.

Know that every friendship starts with small talk

I used to think that small talk didn’t have a purpose and that it was something only shallow people liked. In fact, small talk serves a key function in human interaction. When two people meet, they rarely feel comfortable around each other straight away. They need time to appraise each other and pick up on social cues at a subconscious level. They ask themselves questions, even if they don’t realize it, like:

  • Is this person friendly or hostile?
  • Could this person be a friend, a partner, an ally, or someone to avoid?
  • Do we see things the same way or have things in common?

Done right, small talk works as a warm-up for meaningful conversations about stuff you care about. To make this transition, you want to be on the lookout for mutual interests and shared views.

Look for mutual interests or shared views that can move you from small talk to engaging conversation

When making small talk with someone, you can usually get a sense of what “type” of person they are. For example, are they nerdy, artsy, intellectual, or a keen sports fan? The next step is to figure out what things you might have in common, and steer the conversation in that direction.

To use a personal example: I love history.

Sometimes, I come across people I think might also be into history. For example, someone might reference a historic event when we make small talk. Or, they just strike me as a person who likes history based on my gut feeling.

After a few minutes of interaction, you can usually start making educated guesses.

I can mention in passing something related to history, and see how they react. So if they ask me how my weekend was, I might say:

“It was good. I finished watching this documentary series about the Vietnam war.”

If they react positively, we can start talking about history.

I also like photography. If someone seems passionate about a photo they’ve taken, I’ll ask them more about that.

Make it a habit to mention things you are interested in and see what sticks. Always look for mutual interests or shared views.

When you find a mutual interest like this, the conversation feels more effortless and you no longer make small talk — you actively bond.

I explain this in more detail in my guide on how to make interesting conversation.

Talk about things around you to start a conversation if you are shy or have social anxiety

Few things are as intimidating as starting a conversation with a stranger, especially if you are shy or suffer from social anxiety. It helps to focus on the things around you or your shared situation and use them as a starting point for a conversation.

For example:

  • Do you know how this coffee maker works?
  • What was the deadline for this project?
  • I really like this sofa, it’s so comfortable!

Focusing on your surroundings can make you feel less self-conscious, and thereby less nervous.[5] It also makes it easier to come up with things to say.

Focus on others to keep the conversation going

When we get self-conscious, we tend to start worrying about what we should say and what the other person thinks of us. Our adrenaline starts pumping, and it gets hard to think.

Switch it around. Start thinking about the other person. Who are they? What are they feeling? What are they passionate about? Let your natural curiosity grow. When you are curious, you will naturally come up with great questions to keep the conversation going.

In other words, focus on the conversation when you’re talking to someone. Or, if you’re entering a room, focus on people in the room.

For example, you could ask yourself:

  • “I wonder what kind of work she does?”
  • “I wonder where he’s from?”
  • “That’s a nice shirt. I wonder where he got it?”

Your negative thoughts are constantly going to try to creep back into your head. You’ll start thinking things like:

  • “What are they thinking of me?”
  • “Am I walking in a weird way?”
  • “Where do I put my hands?”

Whenever you realize that you’re stuck in your head again, focus on the person you’re talking to. If you don’t talk to someone, focus on your surroundings.

You are allowed to feel worried and anxious. Simply remind yourself that it’s OK to feel nervous, and go back to focusing outward.

Cultivating your curiosity and interest in others has an additional positive side-effect: it makes you a better listener. This kind of curiosity is a skill you need to practice and cultivate like any other.

To bond faster, share things about yourself as you learn about someone else

It’s not true that people only want to talk about themselves. They also want to get to know you.

For two people to make friends, they have to learn things about each other. The best types of conversations go back and forth, allowing both parties to enjoy the process of sharing and discovery.[6]

It can look something like this:

Sharing Inquiring

  • You: So how come you moved here?
  • They: Originally I came here to study, but then I really started liking the place.
  • You: Yeah, I like this city too. So you like it more than your old place?
  • They: Yeah. I think it’s just how close it is to nature here. It’s easy to go hiking anywhere.
  • You: Right. Where did you hike last time?
  • They: I went to Mountain Ridge last month with a couple of friends.
  • You: Nice, I went hiking in Bear Mountain a few months ago. It really helps me relax being out there. It’s funny because when I was in my teens I never really cared about nature, but now it’s so important to me. Have you always liked nature?

You don’t need to follow a perfect pattern when you share and inquire. Aim to keep the conversation balanced. If you notice that you’ve asked the other person a lot of questions, share something about yourself. If you notice that you’ve been sharing a lot, try to learn something about them.

Know that it’s better to say stupid or obvious things than nothing at all

How do you stop being quiet around friends and strangers? You lower your standards when it comes to deciding whether something is “interesting enough” to say.

If you’re an over-thinker like me, you might worry that you’ll say stupid stuff that you’ll regret later. The fear of saying something stupid can be strong enough to turn you into a quiet person. But it’s more damaging to not say anything at all than it is to talk and say something stupid every once in a while.

Why? Saying stupid stuff just makes you human, but saying nothing at all prevents people from connecting with you.

When did you last judge someone for saying something stupid? I can’t remember ever caring about that. But I can remember many people who didn’t seem to want to talk to me. I thought they didn’t like me – but perhaps they were just too self-conscious to speak freely.

So rather than saying nothing at all, say something every once in a while, even if you don’t think it’s important or clever. It signals that you are friendly.

Check out our guide on how to stop being quiet.

Chapter 2: Improving Your Social Confidence

If you worry about being judged, change the way you talk to yourself

Whenever I walked into a room, I felt that people would judge me. That made me inhibit myself. As a result, it was hard for me to be social.

Just like you probably pay little attention to what any random person does, others pay little attention to what you do. We are too occupied with ourselves and our own thoughts to care very much about other people.

If you often feel that people will judge you, it could be because you judge yourself. In psychology, this is called projection.[7]

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Here’s an example. When I assumed that people would judge me for having a big nose, it was because I was really the one who judged myself for my big nose. As my self-esteem improved, I stopped worrying about my nose. Automatically I also stopped worrying about what others thought about it.

You can improve your self-esteem by changing the way you talk to yourself.[8]

Practice talking to yourself like you would talk to a good friend.

If you would usually say to yourself “I’m always weird and awkward, what’s wrong with me?,” you can say “Sometimes I’m awkward, but that’s OK. After all, a lot of people are awkward and they are still good people. I can also remember times when I’ve been funny and social.”

Remind yourself that you, just like everyone else, have flaws — and that’s OK! It’s part of being human. You can also challenge your self-critical voice, like in the example above, by coming up with examples that disprove that you’re “always” a certain way.

This is called “self-compassion.” It’s not about being overly positive or telling ourselves lies to feel better. It’s about being kind and taking a nuanced perspective when talking to ourselves. When we do, we worry less about being judged by others.[9]

Here are more exercises to improve your self-compassion.

Visualize yourself as a social person

Whenever you’re on your way somewhere to socialize, try visualizing yourself as a socially competent person. Visualization can both help you feel less socially anxious, and make you better at socializing.[2][3][4]

We humans tend to complicate things (like how to act around others). But if you think about it, you already know pretty well how a socially skilled person acts, right? We’ve subconsciously already formed a picture from movies and from observing others. They are relaxed, positive, keep confident eye contact, smile, build rapport, and so on.

If you know what a social person is like, you’re closer to being able to act like a social person too.

You can experiment with going into the role of the “social you” every once in a while. Even though this might just be a character at first, you can grow into this role over time so that it becomes a natural part of who you are.

How to socialize if you have social anxiety

If you have social anxiety, it’s natural to try to avoid socializing. However, studies find that exposing yourself to social interaction is a powerful way to improve social anxiety.[10]

You can practice doing things that you don’t normally do that are slightly frightening, but not terrifying.

Example:

  • If you usually ignore the cashier, give her a nod.
  • If you usually give the cashier a nod, give her a smile.
  • If you usually give her a smile, ask how she’s doing.
  • And so on…

You’re not doing something super-scary, just something a bit beyond your comfort zone.

This approach is less painful than trying to make huge changes. Over time, small changes make a big difference.

Here’s more on how to make friends if you have social anxiety.

Know that no one expects you to perform

One reason why I disliked social events so much was that I felt as though I was “on stage.” It felt like I had to put on a performance. In my mind, everyone was looking at me and judging me.

But you don’t need to perform. You don’t need to be over the top. You can just be casual and friendly. People will like you more than if you’re trying too hard.

Take the initiative, be friendly, and talk to people. But you don’t have to force yourself to be energetic, witty, or funny. Don’t try to impress anyone. Trying to impress others usually takes a lot of energy and, ironically, tends to make us less likable. Not trying to perform will make you come off as less needy and more attractive. You can also allow yourself to be boring at times.

Be aware of your subtle avoidance behaviors

Avoidance behaviors are things we do to avoid feeling uncomfortable. If you refuse to go to a social event, this is an obvious avoidance behavior. But some types of avoidance are less obvious, but still stop you from fully engaging with others.

Here are a few examples, and how to overcome them:

Playing with your phone: Turn it off when you arrive at the event, put it in your pocket, and don’t take it out until you leave.

Only attending social events with someone else, and letting them start every conversation: Go to at least 50% of events by yourself, or only go with a friend who will push you to practice your social skills at the event.

Positioning yourself in a quiet part of the room to avoid people: Challenge yourself to speak to at least 5 people before you leave.

Subtle avoidance behaviors stem from fear. As you become more comfortable in social situations, you’ll automatically use them less often.

Know that you don’t have to stay the whole night

While it’s good to accept invitations as often as you can, you don’t have to stay until the end of an event The important thing is to break your pattern of declining invitations. You’ve already accomplished that by showing up. Feel free to leave after 20 minutes if you don’t like it.

Studies show that if you suffer from social anxiety, it’s best to leave an event after your anxiety has subsided somewhat.

Here’s an example:

If you go to a party and feel really anxious, that anxiety may subside after half an hour (although it varies from person to person). If you leave after your anxiety has started to subside, you’ve taught yourself a valuable lesson: that you can cope in social situations, and that your anxiety might be unpleasant, but it is bearable.

Studies show that repeatedly exposing yourself to something uncomfortable until the anxiety has subsided a bit is very effective for overcoming social anxiety.[11]

When I realized that I could go to parties for 30 minutes without having to impress people, saying yes to invitations got much easier and I got more social exercise.

Chapter 3: Getting A Better Social Life

“I have no social life. What should I do?”

If you don’t have a social life, put yourself in situations where you meet more like-minded people. You can do that by thinking about what you like doing. How can you turn that interest into something social? For example, if you like history, are there any history meetups you can join?

In this chapter, we’ll talk about how to get a social life. Also, see our main article I have no social life.

Say yes to invitations as often as you can

If you get invited by someone to an event but decline, that person will feel less motivated to invite you again in the future.

To be more social, I first tried to say yes to every event that I was invited to. But that was difficult to sustain. I eventually learned the ⅔ method from a friend: Say yes to at least two-thirds of the events you get invited to.

I used to remind myself that it’s not about the event in itself. It’s about changing my behavior and learning to be a more social person.

Sometimes, low self-esteem can make us feel like we’re not worthy of going to an event. We might think, “They probably invited me out of pity or to be polite.” This may or may not be the case. Either way, you should take every opportunity to improve your social skills.

What if you don’t get invited anywhere?

Here are some common reasons as to why you may not get invited what to do about it:

  • You’ve declined too many invitations in the past: Tell your friends that you’ve decided to socialize more and even though you have declined invitations in the past, ask them to let you know when new events are coming up.
  • You aren’t close enough to people for them to feel that it’s natural to invite you: Perhaps you don’t like small talk or sharing anything about yourself and only form superficial relationships with people. The advice in this guide will help you socialize more and form closer relationships.
  • For some reason, people hesitate when they think about inviting you: Perhaps some feel like you won’t fit in at an event. Maybe you spend too much time on your phone, perhaps you talk about yourself too much, or maybe you make another kind of social mistake. Again, the advice in this guide should help you.
  • You don’t have much in common with your friends: You may benefit from seeking out more like-minded people. For example, if you feel very uncomfortable at a party but at home at a chess club tournament, seek out chess-related events and chess clubs and meet people there.
  • Your current situation or lifestyle means you don’t get to meet people, so there’s no one to invite you: If you don’t have people around you, your primary focus should be to make friends.

Should you make yourself go to social events?

Is it a good idea to force yourself to socialize even if you don’t feel like it?

Yes — at least sometimes. If you want to become a more social person or build a larger social circle, you’ll benefit from going to an event even if you don’t feel like it.

Ask yourself the following question: Would going along help me build a social circle and practice my social skills? If yes, it’s a good idea to go.

There are other times where you shouldn’t go.

For example, perhaps there are people there who you know are a bad influence on you. Maybe you know that peer pressure can make you do things that go against your better judgment. In cases where you’ll be worse off than if you wouldn’t go, it can be better to stay home.

Below are two tips to make social events less intimidating.

Join clubs that align with your interests

I met around half my current social circle by joining various groups and clubs.

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If you want to make friends, groups and clubs tend to be much better than parties. Why? Parties are often loud and terrible for making conversation. Here, people often just want to have fun, not form close bonds.

Become a member of groups that are centered around your interests. I joined two groups: a philosophy group and a group for online entrepreneurs. When a group caters to your interests, there’s a good chance you’ll find like-minded people. It’s also easier to start a conversation with someone who’s into the same things that you are.

Go to places where you can meet the same people repeatedly

If you want to get to know people, try to meet them at least once per week. That way, you’ll have enough time to form bonds. This means that classes and recurring events are preferable to one-off meetups.

Here’s how many hours you need to spend with someone to become friends:[12]

  • Casual friend: 50 hours of time spent together.
  • Friend: 90 hours of time spent together.
  • Good friend: 200 hours of time spent together.

These numbers show that you are very unlikely to make friends at a single event.

However, these numbers are just an average. One study found that we can accelerate this process by sharing information about ourselves and inquiring about others. In one experiment, two complete strangers felt like close friends after just 45 minutes, by gradually asking each other more and more personal questions.[13] While you don’t want to be this intense in real life, you can make it a habit to share a little about yourself and ask sincere questions as we explain here. This will help you make friends faster.

How to be more socially connected

Every person you meet is a potential connection to more friends or business associates. Here’s how to grow your social circle:

  • Make it clear you’re looking to meet new people: Be direct about your goals. For example, at a business-related event, you could say, “I’d love to grow my professional network. Do you know many other people who work in our field?”
  • Invite friends to bring their friends along to an event or meetup: This can be an easy way to meet new people who probably have something in common with you.
  • Follow up with new people on social media: Send social media requests as soon as possible, with a short message telling them that it was a pleasure to meet them.
  • Schedule in-person interactions: Social media and phone calls are good for keeping in touch, but spending time together with people face to face builds meaningful relationships.

Practice being more outgoing

An outgoing person is someone who’s friendly and enjoys being around others. They are naturally curious and want to know everyone’s story. Outgoing people don’t like rejection, but they soon get over it because they know it doesn’t mean they are a deficient or unlikeable person.

By practicing social skills, improving your social self-confidence, and seeking out people, you can learn to become a more outgoing person. Self-acceptance is also important. When you value yourself, you’ll probably feel more comfortable when talking to others. You might not be so afraid of criticism either, because you have a strong sense of self-worth.

One final tip: It can be easier to feel uninhibited when you’re talking about a passion or hobby. So if you want to practice being outgoing, try it when you’re with a person or group of people who share your interests.

Read our full guide here: How to be more outgoing. See our list of social hobbies.

Chapter 4: Socializing As An Introvert

In this section, we’ll talk about how you can enjoy socializing more as an introvert. Read our main guide: How to be more social as an introvert.

Lower the expectations you place on yourself

I used to avoid social events because they were tiring. Talking to new people consumed a massive amount of energy. As an introvert, I believed that I would always be drained after socializing. To my surprise, socializing can now make me feel energized. Here’s my personal experience that helped me enjoy socializing as an introvert.

  • I used to push myself to be entertaining and put myself under a lot of pressure to be fun. – Constantly “trying” drained my energy levels. While I’m friendly, make conversation and show an interest in others, I don’t try to make someone laugh/be impressed by me/like me.
  • I didn’t know what to say to people and trying to make conversation was tiring. – As I improved my conversation skills, conversations became more effortless, took less energy, and became more rewarding, as they led to me bonding with people easier.
  • I was focused on me and what others thought of me. – By refocusing my attention on others, I worried less about myself and saved my energy.

Experiment with caffeine

Try having a coffee at social events. It can help many, but not all, people to be more talkative.[1] Try it out and see if coffee can help you feel more energized in social settings.

Take breaks

Go to the bathroom and breathe for five minutes or take a moment alone on the balcony. If you’ve been socializing Monday through Friday, take the weekend off.

Practice being more extroverted

When it comes to extroversion and introversion, one is not better than the other. Both personality types have drawbacks and benefits. Extroverts can benefit from getting in touch with their introverted side, and introverts can benefit from practicing extroverted behavior. Pushing ourselves beyond our usual behavior patterns helps us thrive in more social situations and gain more enjoyment from life.

Our personality isn’t static. Extroverts can learn to be more introverted, and introverts can learn to be more extroverted. The same study found that setting specific goals was the most effective way to be more extroverted.[14]

This could be things like:

  • “I’m going to talk to one stranger every day”.
  • “If someone starts talking to me, I’m going to not just say yes or no but engage in conversation”.
  • “I’m going to smile and nod at 5 people every day”.
  • “I’m going to eat lunch with someone new this week”.

Here’s our main article on how to be more extroverted when you need to.

Chapter 5: How To Act When Socializing

Social norms in short

Social norms are the unspoken rules of human interaction. Social norms might seem arbitrary or restrictive, but they serve an important purpose: they are a kind of template for social gatherings. For example, if you are going to a social event such as a dinner or party, people will expect you to:

Introduce yourself to other people: Be ready to say your name, where you live, how you know the host or hostess, and what you do for a living.

Take part in conversations that are suitable for the event: In most cases, this means staying away from religious, political, or sexual topics. Avoid profanity and don’t start unnecessary arguments.

Listen respectfully: Balance self-disclosure with asking others about themselves.

Put some effort into your appearance: If you’re going to a formal or semi-formal event, check the dress code in advance.

Remember basic manners: Say please and thank you, greet your host or hostess when you arrive and say goodbye when you leave, and observe good etiquette at the dinner table.

As you gain more experience in social situations, you’ll develop a better grasp of what norms you need to observe.

Watch people who are socially skilled

Pay attention to people who seem likable and who are good at making friends and socializing. Pay attention to what they do —and what they don’t do. This is a powerful way to learn from the best for free. You can pick someone you know to be your “social skills mentor” without them even knowing.

However, if you become good friends with your role model, you can ask them for tips. For example, if they always seem to know how to keep a conversation going, ask them how they think of things to talk about.

How to stop being socially awkward

Instead of worrying about your inner monologue or anxious thoughts, watch the people around you. Focus outwards instead of inwards.

When you meet someone, try to find out something meaningful about them: their job, perhaps, or their favorite hobbies, or whether they have children. However, don’t subject the other person to an interrogation. After a couple of questions, share something about yourself.

As you talk, pay close attention to their verbal and non-verbal cues. For example, if they are tapping their foot and occasionally glancing toward the door, it may be time to wrap up the conversation. With practice, you’ll get better at reading people.

Good posture can help you feel and look more confident. You can use exercises like the one in this video to improve your posture. To make sure you don’t have to think about it during social situations, repeat the exercises regularly until you always adopt a proper posture without thinking about it.

Here’s our main article on how to not be socially awkward.

Be friendly and relaxed to increase your social status

You can improve your social status by practicing being friendly and relaxed at the same time.

At first, I tried to be more friendly to people. But my nervousness made me come off as uneasy and even though I was friendly, people didn’t respond very well.

So, I tried to be more cool and standoffish. That didn’t work either. People just assumed that I didn’t like them.

When I practiced being both friendly and relaxed, I attracted friends with more ease than before.

By “relaxed,” I mean speaking calmly with a relaxed voice while using natural body language. Even if I was nervous, I could still act relaxed. Studies confirm that anxious behavior in animals is related to low social status.[15]

By “friendly,” I mean sincere: asking genuine questions, showing appreciation, having a relaxed and friendly facial expression, and giving genuine compliments. This makes people feel that you like them. Studies with children confirm that there’s a correlation between friendliness and social status.[16]

Combine being friendly with being relaxed, and it’s easier to attract friends.

Here’s our main article on high-status behavior.

What to say when you don’t want to socialize with someone

Learn a few go-to lines you can use when you want to decline an invitation.

For example:

“It’s kind of you to think of me, but no thank you.”

“Sorry, that doesn’t work for me. Thank you for asking.”

“I can’t make it, but thanks for inviting me along.”

“Sorry, I have other plans.”

Do not make elaborate excuses, because the other person may just try to override your objections or ask to hang out at a later date. It’s usually best to simply turn down an invitation with little or no explanation.

If you don’t want to socialize right now but might be open to meeting up in the future, say “I can’t make it this time, but I’ll let you know when I’m free. Is that OK?”

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Chapter 6: How To Become A More Interesting Person

How do you become a more interesting person for people to get to know, even if you aren’t rich, attractive, charismatic, or have a cool job?

Show interest in people and they will find it more interesting to talk to you

People will think that you’re an interesting person if you show that you’re interested in them. Ask sincere questions with the intent to actually get to know them and how they see life. In return, most people will be interested in hearing about your take on things.

People who try to be interesting by talking about themselves and their adventures tend to become boring or annoying after a while.

As I discussed earlier in this guide, you want to balance asking questions by also sharing bits and pieces about what you think and how you see things.

How to feel more included when socializing

I used to dread socializing in groups. I couldn’t break into the conversation, and if I did, I got interrupted. People would soon start lively discussions with each other without looking at me, and I zoned out.

One time, I decided to try the opposite approach. Instead of zoning out, I paid full attention to whoever was talking, even though I didn’t get to say much.

After a while, whoever talked started directing their talking and attention toward me. In other words, because I showed that I listened, it felt natural for them to focus on me. Instead of being left out, I was now part of the group, even if I didn’t say much.

Suddenly, when I got everyone’s attention, it was easier for me to add to the conversation. In a sense, you get attention because you give people your attention.

Whenever someone’s talking in a group, you can try doing the following:

  1. Maintain eye contact with the person who is talking.
  2. Say “Hmm” and nod when appropriate.
  3. Show with your facial expressions that you are listening.
  4. If something’s unclear, ask for clarification.

Psychologists call this active listening, but it’s almost always talked about in the context of one-on-one conversations rather than group settings.

I’ll talk more about how to join a group conversation here.

Another challenge with group conversation is speaking too quietly. There are some methods you can use to talk louder. That guide helps even if speaking up makes you uncomfortable or you don’t naturally have a loud voice.

More Reading: The Best Books On How To Be More Social

The Social Skills Guidebook: Manage Shyness, Improve Your Conversations, and Make Friends, Without Giving Up Who You Are by Chris MacLeod.

If you feel nervous around new people and struggle to think of things to say, this book will improve your confidence and teach you the art of making conversation. It also contains practical, comprehensive advice that will show you how to build a social life.

PeopleSmart: Developing Your Interpersonal Intelligence by Melvin S. Silberman.

Socially successful people are empathetic. As a result, they know how to influence others and assert their needs without being manipulative. This book will help you develop these skills.

Here are all our recommendations for the best social skills books.

Chapter 7: Life Situations & Events Where You Might Want To Be More Social

How to be more social at parties

As I mentioned earlier, people go to parties to have fun rather than to make friends. So focus on making your fellow guests feel good about themselves instead of starting deep conversations. This means taking an interest in them and their lives, paying them compliments when it’s appropriate, and sticking to light, fun topics where possible.

You probably have something in common with other people there: you both know the person throwing the party. Asking “How do you know the host/hostess?” can be a natural way to start a conversation.

Your surroundings might also be a good source of inspiration. For example, a comment like “This food is amazing! Have you tried it?” can turn the conversation to cuisine, cookery, and related subjects.

How to be more social in school or college

Start by finding some student clubs that align with your interests. You’ll find like-minded students who are probably also keen to make friends. If you find someone you like, suggest getting together between club meetings. Invite them along to something you want to do anyway. For example, “I’m going to get some lunch now, would you like to come with me?”

When someone invites you out, say yes unless it’s literally impossible for you to go. If you have to decline an invitation, offer to reschedule immediately.

At the moment, many classes are taught online. You can still make friends remotely by becoming an active participant on any discussion boards, forums, and social media groups your professor has set up for their students. If you live close by and it’s safe to do so, suggest meeting up offline.

See our main article on this topic: How to make friends in college.

How to be more social after college

When you leave college, suddenly you no longer see the same people every day. You may also find yourself in a brand new area where you don’t know anyone. To make new friends, try to become involved in community activities that let you spend time with the same people on a regular basis. You could try:

  • Joining a recreational sports team.
  • Signing up for a class at your nearest community college.
  • Volunteering.
  • Joining meetups or hobby groups that fit your interests by looking at eventbrite.com or meetup.com.

Get comfortable with the idea of rejection. Take a risk: when you meet a potential new friend, ask them for their number. Tell them that you’ve enjoyed talking to them and would like to see them again soon. Remember that many people are in your position. Even if everyone else looks busy, there’s a good chance they want to expand their social circles.

See our main article on this topic: How to make friends after college.

How to be more social at work

Make regular small talk with your coworkers. Ask them how they are today, whether they’ve had a busy morning, or whether they have any plans for the weekend. These comments may seem banal, but they are the first step in building rapport and trust. In time, you can move the conversation to more interesting and personal topics, such as their family life or hobbies.

Take every chance to socialize. Don’t hide away in your office. Eat your lunch in the breakroom, ask a coworker if they’d like to grab a coffee midway through the afternoon, and accept invitations to after-work events.

Try not to make assumptions about your coworkers. Get to know them before you decide whether they could become friends. Some people choose not to make friends at work, preferring instead to draw a firm line between their personal and professional life. Don’t take it personally if someone remains polite but distant.

Main article: How to be more social at work.

How to be more social if you have a disability

If you need any accommodations in social situations, take the initiative and ask for them. Practice being assertive about your needs, and be specific.

For example, if you have a hearing impairment, tell people that you need to see their faces when they are talking, and that you find it easier to follow a conversation when only one person speaks at a time. Or if you are a wheelchair user and you have been invited to an event, ask whether the venue is accessible.

Some people will ask you questions about your disability. It’s up to you whether you answer them, and how much detail you provide. Whatever your preference, it’s a good idea to prepare a few go-to answers to common questions such as “Why do you use a wheelchair?” or “How did you become deaf?”

If you would like to make friends with people who understand your experience as a person with a disability, look online for relevant groups or meetups. They can be a great source of support and friendship.

How to be more social if you have Asperger’s

The tips in this guide will help you be more social and make friends, but having Asperger’s presents some extra challenges. These include picking up on subtle cues such as body language and facial expressions. With practice, you’ll learn how to read people in social situations. Use online resources like this quiz to test and improve your skills.

Read Improve Your Social Skills by Daniel Wendler. This is a straightforward guide to the most common types of social situations, including dating. The author has Asperger’s, giving him great insight into the social challenges faced by people on the autism spectrum.

Many people with Asperger’s have one or more niche interests. Look on meetup.com for groups of likeminded people. There may also be support and social groups for people on the spectrum in your area.

Main article: How to make friends if you have Aspergers.

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David Morin is the founder of SocialPro. He's been writing about social skills since 2012. Follow on Twitter or read more.

Go to Comments (6)

6 thoughts on “How To Be More Social – The Complete Guide”

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  1. Just the thought of small talk USED TO petrify me. That’s because as a naturally asocial person,I didn’t understand it. These days, I understand it better and the thought doesn’t scare me anymore. However, I don’t have much opportunity to socialize right now, but when I do, I actually will kind of look forward to it. I think, in a nutshell, small talk is simply a means, if not the only means, to break the ice with someone and to be sociable as opposed to being “too quiet” and not join in when there’s people around, and it’s not so important WHAT you say as HOW you say it and how you feel and whether you connect with each other or not.

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  2. I really want to be a social person but then I never get past the small talk. I really don’t know what to converse abt with people I don’t know, sometimes even people I do know. There is never much to talk about and so I don’t have close friends.

    Reply
  3. “What does deep midnight declare? The world is deep, deeper than the day has been aware. Deep is its woe, and joy deeper yet than agony.”

    Nietzsche has his moments, but I tend to find Sartre more practical. 🙂

    Reply
  4. I’m really bad about not being anxious about if I say or do the wrong thing. It’s really stressful for me sometimes. But I’m getting through it.
    But I am going to spend one week being social.

    Reply

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