How to Improve Socially Without Weird Comfort Zone Exercises

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.

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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.

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  2. Learn a proven technique to get past empty small talk
  3. Improve socially without doing weird out-of-your-comfort-zone stunts.
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  5. See how you can go "from boring to bonding" in less than 7 words.

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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.

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  1. I’ll try not to overthink during conversation, but instead live in the moment and even if I say something others will judge, I should remember that it’s okay and act confident. After all, they’ll probably forget it the next day.

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  2. I will listen to people and sincerely ask about them instead of worry about what I’m going to say next and if I will sound stupid.

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  3. I’ll try to be more present in the moment and try to make more meaningful conversations with people. Sometimes, I feel like I’m being judged or misperceived but I know I just need to relax.

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  4. I will listen and focus on what other person is saying and let them know that so they feel validated and understood.

    Reply
  5. I’ll start small talks with my parents, myself,,, although we all live in the same house,, but I rarely approach them,,, they many a time do talk a bit with me ,, but I ignored them ,,, I have realized my mistake ,, and will now spend more time with them.

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  6. I will try to remember to take deep breaths and remain calm and really listen to what the other person is saying instead of thinking about what I am going to say while they are talking.

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