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

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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.

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  1. How to be more confident around anyone.
  2. How to stop feeling self-conscious using the "OFC-method".
  3. Why you don't need out-of-your-comfort-zone exercises to be confident.
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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 (219)

219 thoughts on “How to Improve Socially Without Weird Comfort Zone Exercises”

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  1. My goal is that I will become more confident in myself and not be afraid to show the real me to others. I also want to able to have more genuine conversations with people that I meet.

    Reply
  2. My goal is to be able to open up and share what I exactly think or feel with any person I meet without being afraid of getting judged.

    Reply
  3. Like some of the others here, my goal is to assume people already like me instead of worrying about if they will/won’t like me.
    Also, to not worry about the content of what I’m saying, and instead focus on making the conversation feel genuine and friendly. People don’t remember what you say, but how you made them feel.

    Reply
  4. My goal is get into depth of conversations as a kickstarter and become increasingly curious as threading of small talk is happening.

    Reply
  5. I’ll practice being naturally curious when I meet people. I don’t have to force myself to start a conversation, but as long as I have a solid foundation in natural curiosity, I’m sure starting and continuing a conversation would be much easier

    Reply
  6. My goal is to be at ease in a conversation and not being afraid to talk about what’s on my mind or what interests me and not letting other people’s reactions to hold me back.

    Reply
  7. My goal is : to be able to have a conversation with someone I haven’t met. And not worry or stress about any part of the conversation after it has finished.

    Reply
  8. I have wondered for a long time is I am on the spectrum. I don’t mind social events as long as I can be myself but I’m so worried that I’ll come across as weird. I would like to try fidgiting when people can see it and talking about stuff I’m actually interested in rather than faking it. I want to try and be me at a social event rather than who I think they want me to be.

    Reply

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