David Morin

How to Improve Socially Without Doing Weird Comfort Zone Exercises

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You’ve probably seen this picture before:

Comfort Zone Where the magic happens

It creates the impression that we need to be somewhere we’re not. So, we try to follow the advice we hear in self-help books.

“Escape your comfort zone”

“Approach ten strangers at a bar”

This is so far from where most of us are, that we won’t even be able to try it. Then, we feel that we’ve failed. But in reality, it’s the self-help books and “break your comfort zone”-mantra that’s wrong.

There’s actually a better way that doesn’t need weird and extreme changes in your behavior.

What we want to do is to challenge ourselves to do things we think is exciting, maybe even slightly uncomfortable, but not scary.

Comfort zone

We want to take small steps – and stay in the right level of our outer comfort zone.

What won’t help you create long term, solid improvements:

What WILL help you create long term, solid improvements:

What actually works is taking SMALL steps outside of your regular behavior. It’s about starting where you are right now and taking a small step from there:

  • If you usually end up listening rather than talking, talk just a little bit more about yourself than you normally would.
  • If you usually wouldn’t ask an acquaintance to meet up because you’re afraid to come off as needy, text them anyway.
  • If a conversation is about to die out and you want to escape, try to come up with one more topic and stay a little longer than you normally would.
  • If you feel uncomfortable holding eye contact, keep it a little longer than you normally would.
  • If you feel uncomfortable talking to that cute guy or girl in your office building, ask her a question instead of ignoring her.

When you DO feel comfortable taking that small step outside of what you normally would, THAT’S when you want to take the next step.

Do you see what’s happening here? We’re not breaking out of our comfort zone, we’re slowly expanding it.

Imagine what would happen if you grew your comfort zone a little every day. Because you think it’s exciting rather than scary, it just grows and grows.

You’re not doing something you don’t want.

You’re not doing what scares you.

You’re doing what excites you.

Where would you be then, one year from now? What would you be able to do?

  • Perhaps social anxiety would no longer stop you from doing what you want?
  • Perhaps you’d start to enjoy meeting new people and making conversation?
  • Feel calm and confident in new social settings?
  • Actually enjoy yourself and feel like part of the gang in group conversations?
  • Have a fun and interesting conversation with a cute guy or girl?

Here’s something we discovered as we followed the progress of our program members:

Overcoming social anxiety is actually one of the things in life we have a good shot at succeeding with.

Think about it:

We have these small social interactions all the time. With the people around us, at work, with the cashier at the supermarket, with the waiter at our favorite restaurant.

We can use these everyday social interactions to take small steps out of our ordinary behavior. Each step is tiny, but over time, the compounding improvement is immense. I’ve seen it over and over, first with myself, then among our beta testers and program participants.

I’ve often felt like I lacked something fundamental, like there was something in me that just “wasn’t enough”.

Funny thing is, when there’s something I don’t master, my brain STILL draws the conclusion that it’s something you have to be born with.

But when we think rationally about it, overcoming social anxiety simply comes down to doing small improvements when we’re around people. These steps improve both our social confidence and social skills.

Here’s where life gets started for real.

  • Our social anxiety, shyness, and self-doubt fades away
  • We don’t have to worry about feeling judged
  • Our self-esteem and confidence gets a boost
  • We have the freedom to choose the friends we want
  • We can make effortless conversation with anyone and ENJOY socializing

What I invite you to do next

Did you know that just by writing a goal down, you become 42% more likely to reach that goal? (study)

Write down one SMALL step you could do already today toward more confidence in social situations

If someone writes something you like, also let them know in the comments that they have your support.

8 years ago, I committed to build my social confidence and become great at connecting with people.

Hundreds of books and thousands of interactions later, I'm ready to share with the world what I’ve learned.

The interest in my findings has been beyond my dreams. We now have 30 000 members taking our courses. Perhaps you’ve seen my writing in magazines like Business Insider and Lifehacker.

Follow me on Twitter or Read more.

David Morin

8 years ago, I committed to build my social confidence and become great at connecting with people.

Hundreds of books and thousands of interactions later, I'm ready to share with the world what I’ve learned.

The interest in my findings has been beyond my dreams. We now have 30 000 members taking our courses. Perhaps you’ve seen my writing in magazines like Business Insider and Lifehacker.

Follow me on Twitter or Read more.

8 years ago, I committed to build my social confidence and become great at connecting with people.

Hundreds of books and thousands of interactions later, I'm ready to share with the world what I’ve learned.

The interest in my findings has been beyond my dreams. We now have 30 000 members taking our courses. Perhaps you’ve seen my writing in magazines like Business Insider and Lifehacker.

Follow me on Twitter or Read more.

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Comments (140)

  1. Lil

    My goal tomorrow is to not retreat into my shell.
    🐌 🐌

  2. Emily

    When i’m around long term friends from years ago I feel very awkward, and it stops me from having such a normal conversation with them. When i’m around people I can’t seem to focus on the one person Im having the conversation with because I feel like the back ground people are causing a distraction with my listening & it’s feel very uncomfortable 😣 . Meanwhile I’m having a conversation & it feel socially awkward & I get a feeling of uncomfortably by everyone else & this happens all the time because i feel like rest knows i feel this way.

    • Anonymous

      I have similar feelings.I think what I have to say is irrelevant so usually I keep quiet.

  3. Lin

    I feel I must not be a very interesting person to listen to. I occasionally get invited out with the girls. I listen to their stories. Almost every time I start talking I get interrupted! I still go, trying to keep quiet smile listen and just be happy that I get asked to go sometimes.

  4. Peggy

    Practice conversation pauses (I talk too much and fill the gaps when nervous). I also want to smile more to indicate to people that I’m pleased to see them.

  5. Sara

    Speak at the planning meeting tomorrow

  6. Rutendo

    I want to be able to give an opinion when there is a class discussion and I want to be able to talk to all my classmates so that I can feel comfortable around them.

  7. Sara

    I’ll try to smile and talk to the person sitting next to me at my class today. Usually, I’d just try to remain as invisible as possible.

  8. Sean

    I will comment or ask a question on something topical the next time I meet someone in my office kitchen. (Usually I am silent or at best smile and nod).

  9. Bilkisu

    Today, I will callto discuss with my male friend whom I’m not comfortable interacting with because I am of the opinion that my spoken English ( tenses) is full of errors. And secondly I will like to behave with maturity in the presence of a female friend who said she so much like me but never miss any opportunity to hurt me.

  10. Kara

    I will try to send voice messages, instead of typing long texts!

    • Sara

      Hope that goes well!

  11. Rachel

    I honestly feel like I’ve exhausted my efforts at trying to seek new friendships. I’ve tried as much as I can so what I’m actually going to do is just stop for a while. And that’s my challenge. I’m tired. I can’t be so awful that not one person is willing to be my friend. I’m going to try to just be happy with who I am for a while- flaws and all. Surely there is some person out there who thinks I’m likable. I’m exhausted looking for them so now someone else has to do the work. These emails have been immensely helpful but I feel isolated, alone and socially inept. I’m going to cut myself some slack and just live for a bit. I’m not perfect but I can’t be that awful. I hope not anyway.

    • Viktor Sander B.Sc.

      You sound like a lovely person. And I think it sounds like a great idea to give yourself some slack for a while until you feel more energized and ready to put yourself out there again.

      Nobody needs to be perfect to make friends and connections. We’re all flawed in our own ways and that’s what makes us human. But often, it takes time and energy to meet the right people that can accept and love us – flaws and all.

      • Monica

        I truly agree with you. I am tired of not being perfect for that person out there, being judged all the time. It was never this difficult, what happened??

    • Monica Duarte

      Hi my name is Monica and I fully agree with you. If we can’t find one person who thinks we are worth being friends with, then screw them! Taking time away from looking is smart, but don’t get to bored or become a recluse like I have. I have been friendless for a long time now, after a while it’s hard to figure out how to spend your day. I’m not saying I don’t get out because I do, but how much fun would it be to have a friend with you? Feel free to email me, I’d like to talk to you. [email protected]

  12. Anonymous

    I am going to interact with people more and make more eye contact and not feel pushy or over the top but confident and excited and that I’m being nice

  13. Arun

    Ok,this is what I am going to do tommorow,because today is almost over.This might sound weird or silly but this is very uncomfortable.I am going to get the basketball and run up to the rim and try a lay-up with the ball.Why this,because this is one thing that might actually be exciting.And
    it is something I can actually challenge myself to do in reality than something socially impossible to me.
    It is uncomfotable and exciting at the same time.It is also a social setting,with people looking at me when I do this,it is uncomfortable enough.

  14. Anonymous

    I’m going to invite someone I want to be friends with to a festival I’m attending with a childhood friend

  15. Johan

    I already have a pretty solid plan for how to gradually expose myself to various social environments. I just need to get better at following up and evaluate my progress daily along the way as well as doing the steps in the right order and not try to jump ahead. I’m so thankful there are people like you who have already made the journey I’d like to make, and that you’re sharing it with the world.

    I would also like to not dwell as much on things I “screwed up”, often thinking about it days after even though it’s doing no good.

  16. Ari

    My goal for today is to talk about myself more

  17. Nele

    Today my goal is to talk to someone my age at a party whom I kind of know and try to talk a little more than to listen.

  18. Heather

    The Goal that I hope to possibly accomplish today is, to not be too silent at a graduation party and try to be a little social.

  19. Kristiina

    I am going to try to talk more and ask guestions. I also wan’t to be more curious about the person I am talking to.

    • Bee

      I want to be more curious. I want to ask questions. I want to not be afraid to ask for questions.

  20. Karlie

    Instead of always listening, I am going to talk more!

  21. cam

    Good article. I think bars and alcohol are a bad place to start out as well.

  22. Isaac

    When a topic or conversation dies out I’m going to try to talk a bit more by coming up with one more topic to talk about.

  23. Maia

    My goal for today is to not berate myself when nervous ticks show themselves as I’m talking to someone new. I will also not allow myself to dwell in my sadness.

    • Rachel

      That’s so comforting to know you too dwell in this sadness of being lonely sometimes too. I hope you know you are now alone and certainly not the only one who feels sad because you feel isolated or alone.

      • Anonymous

        Correction- not alone. So sorry for typo.

  24. Anonymous

    I always make people angry…these people are my good friends. But sometimes I always bear their bad habits and do not tell them…but after a long time when I react. They become angry and I lost them…they becoming stay away from me

  25. Maria

    Something that I could do in order to be confident in social situations is be engaged by speaking up projecting my voice and being interested in a group social setting and not just stand there listening, being ignored. Also I can learn how to not be afraid what people may think of me for what I am going to say and not overthink social situations so much.

  26. Dani

    I am going to stay at the next social gathering of people my age for at least half an hour- even if it is akward- and try and speack up more and voice any opinions, jokes or questions I have

  27. Erika

    I’m going to be curious and ask questions.

  28. Anonymous

    I will go and have coffee in a very busy hipster cafe. Right now. See ya!

  29. Cb

    I will talk to the person who makes me feel happy even though we do t talk at all

  30. sam

    I will try to talk with the people i never did today no matter what even if it’s for a second

  31. Jason

    I won’t be afraid of writing here what’s my next step, it is:
    make friends girls (not love girlfriend) and try my best to make them trust me, but slowly….
    best regards

  32. j

    I want to be able to socialize with people smoothly and clearly express my thoughts and feelings on things without restraining myself

  33. tiqah

    Be curious and ask questions whenever someone is sharing a story. That is the easiest way to be more involved in a conversation.

  34. Shannon

    I want to be able to comfortably walk into a room full of people and talk to them without feeling out of place.

  35. Joyce

    I want to be able to speak like I normally do with friends around larger crowds of people.

    • Anonymous

      I really relate to this <3

  36. Stace

    I’ll try to speak out my mind more. I, usually, go through a school day without speaking at all. I’m going to start ignoring my doubts and just project my voice. I have friends at school, but I barely talk to them I feel bad. Little steps will lead to a great improvement.

    • Anonymous

      I really relate to this <3

  37. Z

    I’m going to start forcing myself to stop thinking conversation is scary and start thinking it’s exciting

  38. M.

    Im gonna try and find a social group of people in my city with similar interests to mine and attend and try to find like minded people who hopefully I can turn to friends.

  39. Karine

    I try to keep conversation alive

  40. Anonymous

    Very simpl steps. Good advice. Thank you!

  41. Mitch

    I will reach out to men, I am a man but only reach out to woman.
    My girl friend said I need male friends

  42. Anonymous

    Try to keep a convo. alive and try maintaining eye contact longer while talking.I really want to talk this girl that i like but im really nervous and i ignore her. Now im going to talk to her and along the way im going tell her i like her….Wish me luck….

    • Gb

      Goodluck bro. How was it

    • Rasheed Whittaker

      Great information, your idea is brilliant. I’m going try on my next inter-action. Go just a tad bit further than I normally would take it. Thank you so much for the wisdom. It feels like a life changing moment just reading it and I haven’t left my room yet.

      I’m excited and forever grateful for this email .

  43. CL

    I’d like to be comfortable talking to and making friends with just about anyone, both in one-on-one conversation and in groups. Parties with many strangers are a bit rough and can feel like tests, but I hope to be able to feel relaxed and enjoy them sometime in the future.

  44. agoraphobe

    i want to take a walk around the neighborhood at 3am when nobody’s awake

  45. Anonymous

    Greeting and making small talk with people i don’t know but often meet

  46. Peter

    I want to focus on the people I meet in the street to genuinely wish them well and hopefully put a smile on their face. Instead of ignoring everyone and putting my head down like I have so many times in the past.

  47. V

    Smile more. My Dad use to say to me ‘find someone without a smile and give them one of yours’. I would like to do this more often, makes me feel better when I make someone else feel better.

    • Goldie

      I really like that saying, it’s just so positive and kind!

  48. Jenny

    I will not be afraid to ask people their feelings on things, or to check up on them on what they told me in a last conversation. I think perhaps conversational threading can be used in subsequent conversations—follow up on a topic that we talked about several days ago, especially if it was a confidence or a problem. I often think of things to ask AFTER the conversation is over. I am usually too hesistant to ask later, as I think I am being too nosy or just feel shy. But maybe they will like to be asked, as it certainly is from a place of caring.

  49. M

    I will say more than hello I’m great at greetings. But then the conversation stops. I experience all the comments I read. I think was the only one with these communication challenges. Thanks for the encouragement!!

  50. Anonymous

    My goal is to not be inhibited, to have confidence in what I think, say and the energy I carry. I get so self conscious sometimes and it almost bugs me how self centered those types of thinking patterns are. I want to focus more on the person in front of me instead of trying to come off a certain way or say the right thing.

    • Peter

      This is excellent especially the last sentence. I’m going to incorporate that very feeling into my day.

  51. Anonymous

    I could give my opinion ona topic instead of just blindly agreeing with people.

  52. DbzFan

    If I feel to say something I won’t hesitate and do whatever I really want to do instead of thinking that others may think.I will try to improve my way of communication and response in a good way.

  53. toju

    I will start doing what makes me happy all the times. contributing in a groups, meetings, or class discussion .also try to create a conversation with people and feed my mind on positive things

  54. Anonymous

    I will start speaking louder, and clearer in groups/ group conversations. I will talk more and be more social in groups/ group conversations.

  55. Ria

    I will have a meaningful conversation with atleast 1 random person a day.

  56. Patricia

    I will engage with who ever i’m speaking to by comfortably sharing my personal experiences and inquiring about them. I want to get more comfortable leading the conversation and taking it places we both want it to go.

  57. JP

    I will focus more on the person in front of me and ask one more question

  58. Lapeed

    I will try to maintain eye contact with the person and focus on what he is speaking rather than thinking what to say next!

  59. Lynn

    To focus on what the other person is saying, and stop over thinking and worrying about what I will say next.

  60. R

    I overthink and focus too much on trying to make conversation. I can relax and start off saying something small and try not to avoid people.

  61. Anonymous

    I would start greeting and initiating small talk more with new people I meet. I need to just take the opportunity and do not hesitate.

  62. nr

    i want to be social at school and be able to be myself, and be able to remove the label of “the quiet girl”. i hate it so much. talking to people makes me so happy, and if i cant do that ill never be happy. so my goal is to be confident and social, and have alot of friends at school.

  63. Anonymous

    Many times I do not say hi to people that I would love to talk with because they are with a group of people that I do not know (unless I know at least 2 people in the group). So I end up missing the opportunity to talk with them.

    Many times when I am in a mixed group, friends and friends of friends, I do not say a word and only listen.

    In both situations I feel so bad afterwards because I feel that I am not capable of overcoming the fear of opening up with people that I would love to know more. I think that my major issue is self-confidence.. I do not want to share my thoughts, situation, etc. Because I am scared of sharing part of me with others.

    So my goal this year is working to improve my self-confidence. Know that no one has a perfect life, and that I am worthy to feel loved, have friends, and laugh despite the bad times. Life has been hard on me and many. We deserve everything we want for us.

  64. Clarus

    I always find conversation boring and tend to zone out or escape from it. Now, my goal is to at least focus on the conversation and enjoythe conversation itself.

  65. Jim

    I overthink conversation, so I’m going to try to relax, open up a bit more and stop being so worried about what others think.

  66. Anonymous

    I will stop worrying what others will think of me, will I look awkward and that others won’t like me. Instead, I will try to focus more on people I am talking to and to conversation.

  67. Anonymous

    Speak up during team meetings when I feel like I have something useful to say.

  68. T

    Assume the best in other people’s intentions

  69. Gladys

    My apology, but this is the only time I have able to join here if ever. Thank you

  70. Lissa

    Stop overthinking what to say.

  71. Anonymous

    I’m reading up on everyday events and news to keep myself socially up to date. Because I’m a better listener than a talker I really pay attention to conversations around me, and use what I hear in conversation.

    Thank you so much for your hard work and dedication. This is really helping!

  72. Sharon

    Stop crossing my fingers under the table for better luck socially as this makes me subconsciously feel like I am doing badly and need help, whereas in reality, I am doing fine

    • Viktor Sander

      Good idea Sharon. You got this! 🙂

  73. Donna

    Thank you for your email on Improve Socially Without Comfort Zone Exercises. That is simple and makes so much sense. You do not want to overwhelm people when you first meet them and build the relationship slowly and at a comfortable pace.

  74. Justin

    Be more interested and curious in people’s conversation. And stay in convos longer

  75. G

    I joined a group that does a lot of charity events. This has helped me learn to meet new people, around new people that I have gotten to know!! This has been great at helping me talk to people although sometime I still “hide” behind the people I know. There are a few people that I think have noticed my weakness and help to “push” me. I have started “hiding” behind them sometimes because they only let me hide a little. My goal is to not duck away from a possible interaction but to smile and see what happens.

  76. Anonymous

    I will smile more

  77. Aygul

    Make two new friends whom I like and enjoy spending time with.

  78. Pearl

    I want to have conversations with people who are trying to talk to me or talking around me

  79. SMS

    Initiate small talks.

  80. Anonymous

    Somehow I seem to succeed in talking to people but do not connect, don’t get invited back

  81. Anonymous

    i can open up to more people and talk about the things we like to do.

  82. Anonymous

    I will repair my friendships first then start interacting with people more.

  83. Alisha Spencer

    I want to be more assertive

  84. Anonymous

    awesome tips
    thank you david

  85. Abdul Sari

    These were good articles, It can improve my self confidence to be in social environment. If it is possible, give me a suggestion to coach our children to be confidence socially.

    Sincerely

    Abdul Sari

  86. Madelyn

    I could speak my mind more at work about the weather or the things I like rather than bowing my head and thinking no one wants to know.

  87. Anonymous

    Thank you for all your advice, something I want to do is try to stay calm when asked a question

  88. Jordan

    Thanks for the great advice. OFC has been helpful speaking a new social group I’ve just joined. This latest point about small steps is really interesting too – I often aim too high and then feel worse when I don’t achieve it.

  89. Maud

    Thanks David. These are very useful tips. I’m going to take baby steps this week

  90. Jordan

    I’m already good with body language, so certain gestures, looks, or postures are clear to me.

    A small step I’d like to take, without going too far, is get used to talking to othera on the internet. I am currently on a Discord server with around 40 people, including myself. And I barely know these people because I’m too shy to talk to them.

    A few years ago, before I had major anxiety, talking on the internet was easy. Some people even came to me for advice and questions. I want to be that person again.

    • Viktor Sander

      That sounds like a great first step for you Jordan, to start talking more on your discord server.

    • Madelyn

      That’s an amazing step! Discord can be a great way to practice speaking freely.

  91. Shawn

    I know this is a little off topic by I’m an introvert who has difficulty fitting in with a group of really extroverted people in school. I’ve been trying to fit in with them for almost 3yrs now and nothing seems to be working. HELP !!!

  92. Hey David! Thanks for creating this! I know I along with MANY others can feel uncomfortable in social settings and you are creating very easy to follow and logical tips to improve the experience. OFC is great to stop the anxious loop! Looking forward to learning more and improving socially because I genuinely love people and want my interactions to be more enjoyable:)

  93. Anonymous

    I try to slowly push myself to do new things. Whether that’s showing myself more in public or pushing myself to be in the presence of people I usually find uncomfortable.

    • David Morin

      That’s awesome!

  94. Anonymous

    I practiced focusing and curiosity I found it helpful take the focus off myself Kris

    • David Morin

      Awesome, love to hear about people using our methods.

  95. Amanda

    I was able to use your O.F.C. method on a perfect stranger yesterday. I would have otherwise not spoken to him because he seemed intimidating to me in our initial introduction. Just one successful interaction has given me confidence to continue moving ahead with your videos and advice. Thank you so much!!!!

    • David Morin

      AWESOME! Great job Amanda!

  96. Anon

    This is something absolutely genuine that I’m happy to find it.
    Definitely recommended. 👌

  97. David Morin

    Thank you Somasundaram. Happy you are feeling the change!

  98. Anonymous

    Thank you Sir, it really works well.. please keep on posting this kind of blog’s..

  99. Anonymous

    Thank you so much David!
    I’ll try to be more friendly by smiling to people and saying hi. And also open up simple conversations like : how was your weekend?

  100. Kafilat

    I tried to talk to one of my colleagues although I was nervous but scaled through

  101. Noami

    yes I started sayinng hi and passing a smile. I even started making a small conversation by observing the surrounding

  102. Anonymous

    Your technique to not be linear in conversations helped me relax tremendously and have an awesome first date the other night. Thanks!

    • David Morin

      Great! Congratulations on your awesome date 🙂

      David

  103. Alice

    I am so glad I found your blog. I am 63, recently widowed and look forward to enjoying life and meeting new people. You make it seem possible.

    • David Morin

      That’s awesome! I’m glad to have you with us 🙂

  104. Anonymous

    Hi David, thank you for everything you are doing for us, great achievements have been manifested in our lives socially. God bless you.

  105. Sahar Kholif

    Hi David I want to say thank you for including me to the email and i am feeling positive about myself now than before so I will loose weight and improve my English this my goal

  106. Anonymous

    Hi David.
    So far I’m enjoying your approach.
    I’m excited to hear more from you as ive only received a couple of emails so far but I feel like I can relate to your advice

    Thanks alot

    • David Morin

      Thanks! =)

  107. Andrew Goad

    Really fantastic email. I have had loads of improvement in my social skills to the point where a lot of people view me as a very competent and social person.

    From this perspective, and from my own work & results I can say you are right on the money (with regards to doing something in smaller / more incremental steps).

    Beautiful information & thanks for the share.

    Andrew

    • David Morin

      That makes me super happy to hear! 🙂

      David

  108. Tony

    Hi David,

    Currently wanting to get more clients and expand my business as a 19 year old. I am making 10 cold calls a day to get started. I’m slowly getting more confident and assertive to do it everyday.

    • David Morin

      10 cold calls a day, that’s great. Cold calling is often the last thing people want to do!

  109. Nick K

    Hi Dave,

    Currently trying to exercise each morning before I leave for work and that has infused some good energy, making me a bit less sluggish and more likely less irritable. I’ve been going to a woodworking group every weekend, where I usually meet new people and hang out with people I’ve already made some connection with. The group is really open and non-judgemental so I can be a little bit more at ease and not be so anxious. It was a great choice to start going, and we get to make cool wood items!

    • David Morin

      Hi Nick, joining a group of likeminded like that is actually one of the things that’s shown to be incredibly effective at making great friends. ( + that woodworking is awesome!)

  110. Claire

    Hi David, I’ve tried to work hard on my body language and I’ve also started going to the gym and eating healthier, and it has definitely made me feel better about myself. I also have tried looking more “open” and approachable by trying to smile at people more often.

    • David Morin

      Those are great steps!

  111. Great explanation David. Show really well why I struggle with some challenges, and others are really exciting. Though the major trap is thinking you are still at ‘exciting’, while that place has already become the comfort zone. I guess my next social challenge is talking to more random strangers for practice!