We’re social beings by nature, and as such, we hunger for connection with others. If you hunger for this connection, but feel awkward meeting others or may not have much experience socializing, these tips can help you become more social with friends and strangers.
First, you should polish or develop your communication skills. In general, people gravitate to those that are personable, engaging and make them feel important. With this in mind, practice is the best way for you to gain the skills and confidence needed to thrive when talking to friends and strangers. Here are some behaviors to focus on when you practice small talk.
- You should try to stay focused on the topic at hand. It’s easy to allow your mind to wonder, but when you do this you take your focus off the other people in the conversation. By the time you orbit back in, the topic may be too far along for you to participate in and you become just a person standing there.
- When you participate in small talks try to be engaging with others. To illustrate, say one of your friends says Die Hard is the best action movie of all time. Instead of just nodding in agreement ask them which aspects of the movie they thought made it the best action film of all time. Sure, you may not agree with their assessment, but by asking these type of questions you engage that person.
- You should also allow your personality to shine when talking to others. If you think the timing is appropriate, crack a respectful joke or don’t be afraid to make funny observations about situations provided you are respectful when doing so.
- You also need to employ good non-verbal communication behaviors. When speaking with others, you should be respectful by maintaining eye contact and having good posture. If someone is trying to talk to you and you are busy playing Angry Birds on your iPhone, chances are they don’t think you are respecting them.
Once you feel more comfortable with your communication skills, it’s time to use them to meet others.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to find others that share the same interests as you. If you are into comic books, look for a comic book convention or local groups. This will serve as a great opportunity to meet others. Further, it makes initiating conversations with strangers easy for you since it’s easier to find topics to discuss.
Another way on how to become more social is to take advantage of the opportunities given to you. If you are a student, find groups on campus to participate in. At work, participate in after work activities like joining their softball team. You can also volunteer in your community or join a book club. Ultimately, there are many ways to find others to connect with, you must make the initiative to try.
When you have developed a connection with someone else, ask them to a social activity. It can be as simple as asking a few of your coworkers out to a bar or seeing if one of your neighbors wants to go to dinner. The key here is once you establish a comfort level with another person, you want to keep the momentum going by asking them to spend more time together. This can lead to a great bonding opportunity where you begin to develop a strong friendship.
Lastly, you should try to be open to stepping out of your comfort zone. For me, this was the toughest obstacle to move past. I was comfortable in small groups, but large groups of people intimidated me. However, I was able to get over this by spending more time in large groups and engaging others in that group. In fact, I was able to develop strong friendships from this. The moral here is don’t be afraid to try new things, you never know what they might bring.
Ultimately, you can become more social by polishing your communication skills, allowing your personality to shine through when meeting others and taking advantage of the social opportunities given to you. As a result, you will find it easier to connect with others.