How To Be More Outgoing

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

“I’d love to be more outgoing and confident, but often I just don’t feel like socializing. When I do, I get nervous and don’t know what to say.”

I’m an introvert who spent most of my childhood alone. For years, I felt uncomfortable, nervous, and shy around people. Later in life, I learned how to overcome my awkwardness and become more outgoing:

To be more outgoing, practice being friendly and relaxed. That makes people comfortable and friendly in return. Remind yourself that everyone has insecurities. Doing so can help you feel more at ease. Take initiatives to meet up and be curious about people. This will help you bond faster.

Contents

Being more outgoing

Here’s how to be more outgoing:

1. Remember that everyone has insecurities

I used to feel that everyone noticed me whenever I entered a room. It felt like they judged me for being nervous and awkward.

In reality, we tend to overestimate how much attention others pay us. Realizing this can help you be more outgoing because you won’t be so worried about what everyone else thinks of you.

Scientists call this the spotlight effect:[1]

Feeling nervous when you try to be outgoing

The spotlight effect makes us feel that we stand out. In reality, we don’t.

Everyone is busy thinking about themselves. It might feel as though there’s a spotlight on you at all times, but this isn’t the case.

You may be surprised to learn that many other people share your insecurities. Look at this chart:

How common are our insecurities?

  • 1 in 10 have had social anxiety at some point in their lives.[2]
  • 1 in 3 millennials say they have no close friends.[3]
  • 5 out of 10 see themselves as shy.[4, 5]
  • 5 out of 10 don’t like the way they look.[6] (Only 4% of women feel comfortable describing themselves as beautiful.[7]
  • 8 of 10 feel uncomfortable being the center of attention.[8]

We often assume that we are more nervous and awkward than everyone else. The problem is that we judge people by their observable behavior. If someone else appears calm, it’s easy to conclude that they are relaxed. But you cannot know how they feel inside, so making these kinds of comparisons isn’t helpful.

Take a look at this photo:

People are nervous on the inside, behind the confident surface

Some people in the photo appear confident, but they all have insecurities, even if they are good at hiding them. Just like you, they sometimes have bad days or moments of self-doubt.

Changing your perspective can help you see the world more realistically. I call this recalibration. Recalibration also shows us when our incorrect, unhelpful beliefs don’t hold true. In this case, we can see that beliefs like “Everyone else is more relaxed than me” simply aren’t correct. Taking a more realistic view makes the world less threatening.

Whenever you walk into a room, remind yourself that beneath the calm surface, most people are hiding some kind of insecurity. Many of them will be feeling socially awkward. Remembering this can relieve some of the pressure you put on yourself, which in turn helps you to be more social.

If you feel nervous or shy, read this guide that tells you how to be more confident.

2. Practice being curious about people

I’m an overthinker. I’ve often had trouble picking something to talk about because there are always so many thoughts going through my mind.

Look at this photo:

Being more outgoing when talking to someone

Imagine that you say, “Hi, how are you doing?” and she replies:

“I’m good, I had this huge party yesterday, though, so I’m a bit hungover today.”

Here are the kind of thoughts that may go through your mind if you’re an overthinker:

“Uh oh, she’s probably much more social than I am, and she’s going to realize that I’m not as outgoing as she is. And she seems to have loads of friends, too. What should I say? I don’t want to come off as a loser!”

This kind of negative self-talk will not help you be more outgoing.

Instead of worrying about how you sound or what others think of you, focus on getting to know the person you’re talking to. When you do this, your brain starts coming up with useful questions that can keep a conversation going. You become more talkative. For example:

“How come she was throwing a party?”

“What was she celebrating?”

“Was she at the party with her friends, coworkers, or family?”

This example shows what happens when we stop comparing ourselves with someone else and try learning more about them instead.

When we focus on getting to know someone, we get curious. Questions start to come naturally. Think about what happens when you become absorbed in a movie. You start asking questions like, “Is she the real criminal?” or “Is he really her father?”

So if I were talking to the girl above, I could ask questions like “What were you celebrating?”or “Who were you celebrating with?”

If you have problems initiating a conversation with someone, you can read this guide.

3. Ask questions and share something about yourself

It’s important to ask questions, but to have a balanced, back-and-forth conversation, you also need to share a little bit of information about yourself.

You might have a lot of interesting things to say, but if you don’t engage with anyone else during a conversation, people will get bored. On the other hand, if you ask someone too many questions, they will feel they are being interrogated.

So how do you get the balance right? By using the “IFR”-method:

  1. Inquire
  2. Follow-up
  3. Relate

Inquire:

You: “What have you been up to today?”
Them: “I slept until 2 pm, so I haven’t done anything actually.”

Follow up:

You: “Haha, oh. How come you were up so late?”
Them: “I was up all night preparing a presentation for work.”

Relate:

You: “I see. I used to do all-nighters a few years ago.”
Now you can begin the cycle again:

Inquire:

You: “What was the presentation about?”
Them: “It was about a study on the environment that I just finished.”

Follow up:

You: “Interesting, what was your conclusion?”

As long as you pay close attention to what the other person is saying, your natural curiosity will kick in, and you will be able to come up with enough questions.

By using an IFR-IFR-IFR loop, you can make your conversations more interesting. You go back and forth, getting to know the other person and sharing a bit about yourself. Behavioral scientists call this a back-and-forth conversation.

4. Accept who you are and own your flaws

In school, I was bullied for anything and everything. My brain “learned” that people would judge me. Even though I wasn’t bullied after I left school, I still had the same fear as an adult.

I tried to be perfect so that no one would pick on me. But this strategy didn’t make me feel more confident or outgoing, only more self-conscious. After all, it’s difficult to be social when you’re afraid of being judged.

Eventually, a friend of mine taught me a valuable lesson.

Instead of trying to be perfect, he had started to be completely open about all his flaws. He was a virgin for longer than most guys, and he was always petrified that people would find out. Finally, he decided to stop caring whether they knew.

It was as if he said, “OK, I give up, here are my flaws. Now that you know, do what you want with it.”

The judgemental voice in his head disappeared. There was no reason for him to be afraid that other people would discover his secret, so he wasn’t scared of their reaction anymore.

That doesn’t mean that my friend started telling everyone that he was a virgin. The important point is that his mindset had shifted. His new attitude was, “If anyone asked me whether I was a virgin, I would tell them instead of hiding it.”

Personally, I was obsessed with the size of my nose. I thought it was too big. As I became more obsessed, I started trying to angle myself in such a way that people never saw my profile.

Whenever I entered a room, I assumed that everyone focused on my nose. (I now know this was only in my head, but at the time, it felt very real.) I decided to try a new approach by not trying to hide my flaw.

I’m not suggesting you should try to convince yourself that you have no flaws. I didn’t try to make myself believe that I had a small nose. It’s about owning your flaws.

Nervous over our flaws

Everyone walks around comparing themselves to others, even though they can only see what’s on the surface.

To own your flaws is to realize that every human being has imperfections and that there’s no point in trying to hide yours. We should still work to improve ourselves, but there’s no need to conceal who we are.

Here’s my friend’s story about what happened when he decided to own his flaws.

5. Practice experiencing rejection

My socially successful friends have told me that they face rejection all the time — and they like it.

I found this very hard to believe at first. I used to see rejection as a sign of failure to be avoided at all costs, but they always saw it as a sign of personal growth. To them, getting rejected means that you take the opportunities life gives you. If you are putting yourself in situations where you might be rejected, you are living life to the fullest.

It took me some time to wrap my head around this idea, but it makes sense. A life lived to the fullest is full of rejections, because the only way to not get rejected is to not take chances.

There are even games you can play to practice dealing with rejection.

Here’s what I do:

If I want to meet up someone, be it a girl I’m attracted to or a new acquaintance, I send them a text:

“It was nice talking with you. Want to grab a coffee next week?”

Two things can happen. If they say yes, that’s great! I’ve made a new friend. If I get rejected, that’s great too. I’ve grown as a person. And, best of all, I know that I didn’t miss out on an opportunity.

The next time you’re in a situation where you might be rejected, remind yourself that it’s a sign that you live life to the fullest.

6. Dare to be warm to people right off the bat

I used to have a strong feeling that people wouldn’t like me. I think it stemmed from my time in elementary school, where some of the other kids used to bully me. But the problem was that long after school, I was still afraid that people wouldn’t want to be my friend.

I also had a conviction that people didn’t like me because of my big nose. As a defense against future rejection, I waited for others to be nice toward me before I dared to be nice toward them.

This diagram illustrates the problem:

How to be likable and social

Because I waited for others to be nice toward me first, I came off as distant. People responded by being distant in return. I assumed it was because of my nose.

In hindsight, this was illogical. One day, as an experiment, I tried to be warm toward people first. I didn’t think it would work, but the result surprised me. When I dared to be warm first, people were warm back!

When you're warm toward people, they like you back

This was a huge leap on my personal quest to be more outgoing.

Please note that being warm isn’t the same as being needy; warmth is an attractive quality, but being too needy will backfire. I explore this topic in more depth here.

7. Take small steps

I never had a problem being my true self when I was with my close friends, but around strangers — especially intimidating ones — I froze up. By “intimidating,” I mean anyone who happened to be tall, good-looking, loud, or confident. My adrenaline levels would spike, and I would go into fight-or-flight mode.

I even remember asking myself: “Why can’t I relax and be normal?”

A friend of mine, Nils, had the same problem. He tried to overcome it by doing crazy out-of-your-comfort-zone stunts.

Here are a few examples:

laying down in a busy streetLaying down on a busy street

Speaking in front of a large crowd

Doing stand-up on the subway

Talking to every girl on the street he found attractive

These experiments show that you can learn how to be more outgoing fast. Unfortunately, Nils couldn’t keep doing these stunts on a regular basis. It was too exhausting.

To become more outgoing and move out of your comfort zone for good, you need to take a more sustainable approach. Try setting small goals that gradually increase in difficulty.

For example, your first goal could be to make eye contact with the barista at your favorite coffee shop the next time you go in. When you’ve accomplished that, you can set yourself a new goal of smiling and saying, “Hi.” The next step might be to make a simple comment or ask a polite question like, “How are you this morning?” or “Wow, it’s so warm today, isn’t it?”

8. Stay longer in uncomfortable situations

For example, if you feel uneasy when talking to a stranger, you probably try to wrap the conversation up as soon as possible. Instead, try to stay in the conversation a bit longer, even if it’s uncomfortable.[10]

The more hours we spend in awkward situations, the less they affect us!

How to overcome nervousness and be more social

Every time you feel nervous, try to stay where you are. The longer you allow yourself to feel nervous, the emptier your nervosity bucket becomes, and the more comfortable you feel.

I used to see nervousness as something bad and tried to avoid it. But when I started to stay in social situations for longer, I even started feeling good about being nervous. Being nervous was a sign that my bucket was emptying.

When that bucket is completely empty, you’ll be truly relaxed around people and stop freezing up. Using this method, you can train yourself how to feel less awkward.

9. Identify and challenge your self-limiting beliefs

If your inner voice is like a critic who puts you down and points out your flaws, you may feel inhibited and self-conscious. It’s difficult to be outgoing and confident when you think poorly of yourself.

For example, you might have thoughts like:

  • “I’ll always be shy.”
  • “I’m just not an outgoing person, and I never will be.”
  • “I’m a boring person with nothing to say.”

These thoughts reflect your self-limiting beliefs. It’s important to challenge these beliefs because they can hold you back from making positive changes. For instance, if you believe you aren’t capable of talking to people or being social, you probably won’t make any progress because you’ll stop bothering to try.

10. Change your self-talk

Learning to talk to yourself in a kind, compassionate manner can help you challenge these unhelpful thoughts, improve your confidence, and become more outgoing.

Don’t assume that your self-criticisms are true. When an unhelpful belief pops up, ask yourself some questions: [11]

  • Where does this belief come from?
  • Is this belief useful?
  • How does this belief hold me back?
  • Does it make me act from a place of fear?
  • Can I replace it with a more productive belief?

You can also ask yourself whether there is any evidence that a belief is untrue.

Many of our beliefs have their roots in childhood, and it isn’t easy to replace them. But if you can get into the habit of critically evaluating your thoughts instead of taking them at face value, you’ll start to develop a more realistic self-image.

For example, let’s say you think, “I never have anything interesting to say.”

After asking yourself the questions above, you might realize that the belief stems from your childhood and teen years when people commented on how quiet you are.

It’s not a useful belief, and it holds you back, because it makes you feel like a boring person, which makes you feel inhibited. It makes you operate from a place of fear because you are often worried that someone will call you “dull” or insult you for being uninteresting.

When you think about the evidence against this belief, you realize that you’ve had several good friends over the years who have enjoyed your company.

With these answers in mind, a more productive belief might be, “People have said I’m quiet, but I’ve enjoyed some stimulating conversations over the years, and I’ll have many more in the future.”

11. Asking slightly personal questions

If you only talk about facts, your conversations will be dull. Asking questions that encourage the other person to tell you something about themselves will make the conversation more engaging.

Here’s a trick I use to make this conversation interesting: Ask a question containing the word “You.”

For example, if I was talking to someone about rising unemployment figures and the conversation was getting boring, I might say:

“Yeah, I hope that more people won’t lose their jobs. What kind of work would you do if you were to change jobs completely?”

Or

“Did you dream about doing any particular kind of job when you were a kid?”

After they’ve replied, I would then relate by sharing some of my own job-dreams, using the IFR method I described above. By doing this, the conversation would get more personal and interesting. We’d get to know each other instead of swapping facts.

Here’s my guide on how to be more interesting.

12. Share small things about you

To be approachable and outgoing, we need to share things about ourselves when we talk to someone. I always used to feel uncomfortable doing this. I was more comfortable asking questions and getting to know others.

But for people to trust you and like you, they need to know a bit about who you are

There’s no need to share your innermost secrets, but give other people a glimpse of your real self.

Here are a few examples:

Maybe you’re talking about plants. You could say: “I remember growing tomatoes when I was a kid. Did you grow stuff as well?”

You don’t need to share something sensitive. Just show that you are human.

If you’re talking about Game of Thrones, you could say: “For some reason, I’ve never come around to watch it, but I did read the Narnia series some years ago. Are you into fantasy?”

If you’re talking about the price of apartment rent prices, you could say: “My dream is to one day live in a highrise with a great view. Where would you wanna live if you could live anywhere?”

As you can see, the principle works even for topics that might seem dull.

Notice that these examples all encourage back-and-forth conversation. Thoughtful questions and careful sharing helps you get to know someone else and gives them a chance to learn more about you.

Being outgoing and confident

Outgoing people use their body language and facial expressions to communicate their interest in other people and to show that they are friendly.

Here’s how you can do the same:

1. Maintain eye contact

Making eye contact communicates that you are open and receptive to other people. As someone who was nervous and awkward when they were growing up, I know that it can be difficult.

Here are my tricks for keeping eye contact:

  1. The eye color trick: Try to determine the eye color of the person you talk to. When you do, you get preoccupied with trying to figure the color out, and it feels more natural to look them in the eye.
  2. The eye corner trick: If it feels too intense to look someone in the eyes, look them in the corner of their eye. Or, if you’re at least three feet from each other, you can look at their eyebrows.
  3. The focus-shift method: Focus all your attention on what someone is saying when they are talking. If you do, it feels more natural to keep eye contact. This technique requires practice.

You need to move your attention away from yourself and re-focus on what the other person is saying. This takes time to master, but it’s the most effective way to maintain eye contact because it makes you more relaxed.

Click here to read more about how to improve your eye contact.

2. Smile using the crow’s feet method

If we don’t smile, social situations become harder to navigate. Humans smile to show that we have positive intentions. It’s one of the oldest of the techniques we use to let others know that we are friendly.

When I felt uncomfortable, I used a fake smile, or I forgot to smile altogether. But outgoing people have natural smiles, so you need to learn how to smile in an authentic, natural way.

If a smile isn’t genuine, it looks weird. Why? Because we forget to activate our eyes.

Here’s an exercise to try:

Go to a mirror and try producing a genuine smile. You should get small “crow’s feet” in the outer corners of your eyes. Pay attention to what a real smile feels like. When you need to appear warm and friendly, you’ll know whether your smile looks genuine because you’ll know how it should feel.

3. Use open body language

Try to avoid closed body language, such as crossing your arms or holding something over your stomach. These gestures signal that you feel nervous, annoyed, or vulnerable.

To appear more approachable:

  • Work on your posture so that you look confident but not stiff. This video will help you develop good posture.
  • Let your arms hang loosely by your sides when you’re standing up.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your feet firmly on the floor to prevent nervous rocking. Keep your legs uncrossed.
  • Keep your hands visible, and do not clench your fists.
  • Stand an appropriate distance away from other people. Too close, and you may make them feel uncomfortable. Too far, and you may come across as aloof. As a general rule, stand close enough that you could shake their hand, but no closer.
  • Keep your phone in your pocket. Hiding behind a screen can make you appear nervous or bored.

For more tips, see this guide to confident body language.

Raising your energy level

High energy people appear more confident, dynamic, warm, and engaging. If you want to seem and feel more outgoing, try raising your energy.

Here’s how:

1. Start thinking of yourself as an energetic person

Do you know someone who radiates positive energy? What kind of things do they talk about? How do they move? Visualize yourself behaving in a similar way, and experiment playing that role in social settings. It’s OK to fake it until it feels more natural.

2. Avoid speaking in a monotone

Listen to some charismatic people. You’ll notice that even when they talk about mundane topics, their voices make them seem interesting. Monotonous voices are dull and draining to the ear, so vary your tone and volume in conversation.

3. Use assertive language

For example, instead of saying, “Oh, I don’t know about that” in a tentative voice when you disagree with someone, say, “I see what you’re saying, but I disagree. I think…” You can be respectful whilst still standing up for yourself.

4. Leverage non-verbal communication

Express yourself using your body, not just your words. High-energy people tend to appear animated. They let their faces show their emotions and use hand gestures to emphasize their points. Be careful not to overdo it, or you’ll come off as manic. Practice your gestures in a mirror to get the balance right.

5. Keep physically active and healthy

It’s hard to be upbeat when you feel sluggish. Try to get some exercise every day and eat a balanced diet that makes you feel energetic.

6. End your social interactions on a positive note

End a conversation while the energy in the room is still high. Make the other person feel good about themselves. This doesn’t require a lot of effort. Just smiling and saying something like, “It was awesome to see you! I’ll text you soon” works well.

Being social and outgoing

1. Connect with people you already see every day

Take every possible opportunity to practice basic social skills, such as small talk and using open body language. Practice with coworkers, neighbors, and anyone else you see regularly. In time, they could become friends.

2. Become a regular at places in your neighborhood

Dog parks, cafes, gyms, libraries, and launderettes are all excellent places for meeting new people. Everyone is there for a particular purpose, so you already have something in common. For example, if you are at a library, it’s a fairly safe bet that you and the other people there enjoy reading.

3. Find a new group or club

Look on meetup.com or in your local newspaper or magazine for ongoing classes and groups that will help you meet new people. Don’t expect to make friends after a single meetup, but over time, you can build meaningful connections.

4. Keep friendships alive

Maintain your existing friendships while meeting new people. Reach out every few weeks to friends and relatives you haven’t seen for a while. Dare to be the one who makes the first move. Ask them what they’ve been doing and whether they’d like to meet up soon.

5. Say “Yes” to all invitations

Unless there’s a good reason you can’t attend, accept all invitations. You probably won’t always enjoy yourself, but every occasion is an opportunity to practice being social. If you can’t make it, offer to reschedule.

6. Use everyday errands to practice your social skills

For example, instead of ordering all your groceries online, go to the store, and use the opportunity to make small talk with the cashier. Or rather than writing an email or using a chatbot to contact a company’s customer service department, pick up the phone and talk to a human being instead.

7. Tap into your existing connections

Ask friends and colleagues to introduce you to other people with similar interests. As you become more confident, you can also become a connector. If there’s a chance two people you know might like each other, offer to make an introduction. This can be the first step toward building a group of friends.

Here’s our in-depth guide on how to be more social.

Being more funny

1. Avoid rehearsed jokes and one-liners

Funny people are usually keen observers of the world around them. They point out contradictions and absurdities that make everyone see things in a new way. The funniest remarks are usually spontaneous and arise naturally from a situation.

2. Tell relatable stories

Brief anecdotes about awkward situations you’ve found yourself in can be funny and can make you appear more likable.

3. Study comedy

Watch funny films and TV shows. Do not copy jokes or stories, but observe how characters deliver great lines and why they are effective. If jokes fall flat, ask yourself why. Try to learn from other people’s mistakes.

4. Experiment with various styles

Fill in this Humor Styles Questionnaire to find out what kind of humor you tend to use. The questionnaire will also tell you how other people might perceive your jokes.

5. Think carefully before putting yourself down

Self-deprecating humor is effective in moderation, but if you put yourself down too often, others might think you have low self-esteem. They may also feel uncomfortable because you have exposed your deep personal insecurities.

6. Learn from mistakes

Reframe the experience as a learning opportunity. For example, if you think your joke was a little too self-deprecating and it made people uncomfortable, don’t be so harsh on yourself in the future. Or if you’ve misread your audience and they seem slightly offended, it might be best to avoid using similar humor next time.

7. Remember that everyone has a unique response

Not everyone enjoys joking around, and some people only respond to very specific types of humor. Don’t take it personally if someone never laughs at any of your jokes or witty remarks.

8. Be kind

Aside from light teasing with people you know well, don’t make jokes at someone else’s expense. It can easily turn into bullying, and you may inadvertently hit on one of their deepest insecurities.

9. Apologize if you cause offense

If you accidentally go too far and upset someone, make a quick apology, and change the topic. Note that it’s not always possible to predict what topics will offend people.

You can find more tips on how to be funny here.

Being outgoing in college

1. Leave your door open

This makes it clear that you’re happy to make small talk with people passing by. Just saying, “Hi, how’s it going?” is enough to signal that you’d like to get to know them.

2. Hang out in communal areas

Smile and make eye contact with other students nearby, then move to small talk if they seem open to conversation. If you are planning to go out, even if it’s just to the library, ask them if they’d like to come along.

3. Chat with your fellow students

You don’t need to say anything profound. Simple remarks about the class material, an upcoming test, or why you like the professor are enough to start a conversation.

4. Sign up for societies and clubs

Parties and one-off events can be a lot of fun, but there’s a better chance of developing meaningful friendships with likeminded people you see on a regular basis.

5. Get a part-time job or do volunteer work

Pick a role that involves direct contact with customers or service users. Your social skills will develop quickly because you’ll meet lots of people.

6. Ask and answer questions in class

It’s a chance to practice speaking to someone you don’t know very well, which is a useful skill to have if you want to make new friends.

7. Try not to put yourself under too much pressure

If you weren’t very outgoing in high school, college can seem like a chance to reinvent yourself but don’t expect your personality to change overnight. Take small, sustainable steps at your own pace.

Being outgoing and confident at work

1. Seek out your colleagues

Find the place people like to go during their breaks. When you have some free time, go there too. When you see a colleague, make eye contact, smile, and say “Hi.” If they look friendly, try making small talk. You’ll start to see the same people regularly, and it will become easier to have conversations.

2. Invite coworkers along

Just tell them where you’re going and say, “Would you like to come too?” Keep your tone casual, and you’ll sound confident.

3. Prepare answers to common questions

For example, it’s almost inevitable that your coworkers will ask, “Did you have a good weekend?” or “How did your morning go?” at some point.

Offer more than a one-word answer; give a response that invites a conversation. For example, instead of saying “Fine,” say, “I had a good weekend, thanks! I went to the new art gallery that just opened in the city. Did you do anything fun?” Show a genuine interest in your colleagues’ lives outside work. Changing your attitude will make you naturally more curious and outgoing.

4. Come prepared

Write down a list of ideas and points you want to raise. You’ll feel more confident if you have a clear set of notes in front of you.

5. Don’t speak badly of anyone behind their back

Instead, share sincere compliments, focus on what is going well at work, and lift other people up. Your coworkers will be drawn to your positive energy, which in turn will help you feel more confident.

6. Accept as many invitations as you can

You don’t have to stay until the end. Even half an hour is better than not going at all; you can have a great conversation in 30 minutes. As you become more comfortable around your coworkers, you can try to stay for longer periods each time.

Being outgoing at parties

1. Be prepared

Knowing what to expect will help you be more confident. Ask the organizer:

  • How many people will be at the party?
  • Who are the other guests? This doesn’t mean a list of full names and occupations. You just need a general idea. For example, has the organizer invited their friends, relatives, colleagues, neighbors, or a mix?
  • Is the party likely to be rowdy, civilized, or somewhere in between?
  • Will there be any special activities, like games?

These answers will help you prepare good questions and topics for conversations. For example, if the organizer works for a tech company and has invited some colleagues, it might be a good idea to skim a few of the latest tech-related stories on your favorite news website.

2. Clarify your intention

Before leaving for the party, decide what you want to achieve. Having a goal keeps you focused on other people and your surroundings. Be specific.

Here are a few examples:

  • I will introduce myself to three new people and practice making small talk.
  • I will catch up with my high school friends who I haven’t seen for five years. I will find out what they do for a living and whether they are married.
  • I will introduce myself, and have a conversation with, my new friend’s colleagues who I know will be there.

3. Use visualization to calm your insecurities

Ask yourself what you are afraid of, then visualize yourself successfully handling it.

For example, let’s say you are afraid that you won’t be able to think of anything to say. What’s the realistic worst-case scenario? Perhaps the person you are talking to might look slightly bored. They might excuse themselves and then go and talk to someone else.

Whatever your fear may be, imagine how the scenario would play out.

The next step is to identify how you could respond if your fear came true. To continue the example above, you could take a few moments to breathe, get a fresh drink, and then find someone else to talk to. You might feel embarrassed for a while, but it’s not the end of the world. If you can imagine how you’d cope with a potentially difficult social situation, you’ll feel more confident.

4. Keep your conversations light

As a general rule, most people go to parties to unwind and have fun. It’s unlikely (but not impossible!) that you’ll have in-depth one-on-one conversations about serious issues. Stick to safe topics.

When you meet someone new, ask them how they know the host, then focus on learning more about them. Avoid getting into heated debates and steer clear of potentially controversial subjects.

For more inspiration, check out this list of 105 questions to ask at parties.

5. Try joining a group conversation

Outgoing people tend to join group conversations if they think the topic is interesting. To do this, begin by standing on the edge of the group. Before you say anything, listen attentively for a few minutes to gauge the group’s mood.

If they seem open and friendly, make eye contact with whoever is speaking and smile. Then you can make a contribution to the discussion. To gain everyone’s attention, use a hand gesture as demonstrated here.

6. Avoid using alcohol as a crutch

Alcohol is a popular social lubricant at parties. A few drinks can make you feel more outgoing and confident.[12] However, you can’t turn to alcohol at every social event, so it’s best to learn how to be outgoing when sober.

When you start putting the tips in this guide into action, you’ll realize that you don’t need alcohol to enjoy a social event. You may also discover that the connections you make with other people are more meaningful and authentic when you drink in moderation.

Being outgoing as an introvert

“As an introvert, I find it difficult to be outgoing. Some situations are harder than others. For example, I’m not sure how to be friendly when I’m socializing in a large group — my energy gets drained so quickly.”

Compared to extroverts, introverts prefer less stimulating environments and find social events more tiring. They tend to focus on their inner thoughts and feelings instead of looking for external stimulation. Introverts are content to spend time alone and are often very self-aware.[13] Introversion isn’t the same as being shy or socially anxious. It’s simply a personality trait.

However, sometimes you might want to try being more outgoing. For example, if you want to make new friends, acting more extroverted can make it easier to attract others to you.

1. Be open to change

We can become so attached to a label or identity that we feel reluctant to change our ways. If you proudly describe yourself as “a real introvert,” the idea of behaving in a more outgoing way can feel uncomfortable. It can even feel as though you are betraying your true self.

Yet you can change your behaviors without losing sight of who you are. You probably wouldn’t behave exactly the same way around your colleagues as you would a sibling or close friend, but you are still the same person in both situations. Humans are complex. We are capable of changing our personality traits and can adapt to new social environments.[14]

2. Practice socializing in small groups

Some introverts prefer to socialize one-on-one, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you want to be comfortable at parties or in large groups, you’ll need to move beyond your comfort zone.

Start by arranging to hang out with two or three people at a time. Do an activity that gives you all something to focus on or talk about, like visiting an art gallery or going on a hike. You can then expand the group to include more people, perhaps by asking your friends’ partners or their other friends. With practice, you’ll feel more adept at socializing at larger gatherings.

3. Don’t dismiss small talk

Many introverts don’t like small talk. They think it’s shallow or a waste of time and would prefer to discuss weightier topics.

But small talk is the first step to building rapport and developing relationships. It allows people to bond and encourages a mutual sense of trust, and it helps us work out whether we’ve got something in common with someone else.

Outgoing people understand this. They tap into their underlying curiosity and make careful use of small talk to learn more about others.

If you aren’t sure what to say, draw on your surroundings or situations. For example, if you’re at a wedding, you could say, “Aren’t the floral arrangements beautiful? Which one’s your favorite?” Or if you’re in the break room at work after a meeting, you could ask, “I thought that this morning’s presentation was interesting. What did you think?”

4. Remember F.O.R.D.

The F.O.R.D. technique can help you if the conversation starts drying up.

Ask about:

  • F: Family
  • O: Occupation
  • R: Recreation
  • D: Dreams

Sincere compliments and simple questions, such as “Do you know how to work this coffee machine?” are also effective.

For more tips on how to make small talk, check out this guide.

5. Look for people who share your interests

Extroverts often thrive in loud, busy venues like bars and noisy parties, but introverts tend to find it easier to be outgoing when they are around people who share their hobbies, values, and interests. When you meet someone at a meetup that is centered around one of your interests, you’ll already have a guaranteed conversation starter.

Browse meetup.com for groups, or check out classes at your local community college. Volunteering is another good way to connect with likeminded people.

6. Find a place to take a break

When you arrive somewhere new, get acquainted with your surroundings and find a quiet place you can retreat to when you feel overwhelmed. Knowing that you can have a few minutes away from the main group can help you stay relaxed.

7. Give yourself permission to leave earlier

Even if you’re having a great time, you might start to feel tired or emotionally drained before everyone else. That’s fine: honor your needs. Aim to stay for at least half an hour, then leave if your energy levels are dropping.

Books that will help you become more outgoing

Here are three of the best books on how to be outgoing. They will show you how to be more confident around other people and develop your social skills.

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

This book will teach you how to not be shy in social settings, how to make friends, and how to improve your social life in general.

2. How to Say It at Work: Putting Yourself Across with Power Words, Phrases, Body Language, and Communication Secrets

If you struggle to be more outgoing at work or when attending business events, get this book. It will teach you how to use conversation and non-verbal communication to create a good impression and build relationships in professional environments.

3. The Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World

If you’re an introvert, this guide will show you how to behave in a more outgoing, sociable manner without feeling drained.

For more books about social skills, see this guide.

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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 (71)

71 thoughts on “How To Be More Outgoing”

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  1. I have social anxiety and depression and have like 1 friend and I think I am losing them because I am boring and don’t know what to talk about or how to keep a conversation interesting and lasting.

    Reply
  2. I feel like I have the opposite of the spotlight effect. I think that when I walk into a room nobody notices me really or if they do they don’t really want to hang out with me because I come off as boring. I also have a speech problem that I am insecure about so that makes me even more shy than I already am. I compare myself to my friends who are very sociable and popular and beautiful. I also just prefer to be alone sometimes and am very introverted and need my space. I want to be more social and outgoing but don’t always know how. I’m hoping this advice will help.

    Reply
  3. I hated my nose, and how much my ears stuck out, I was slightly over weight and a freckle on the middle of my chin and a sucky smile. I’m very sociable around family and friends but around strangers I second guess myself and when the conversation goes dry I started blurting out random things and saying things I shouldn’t (don’t have a filter to save my life) Though I’ve started more recently instead of pointing out what I don’t like about myself I’ve started telling myself ‘yes I have parts of my myself I like better than others but at the end of the day why would I change this part of myself when it’s only adding to what makes me Me’ I’ve started being okay and loving my physical features especially…

    Reply
  4. I am scared to meet new people. I always feel like I am being judged. I can’t be myself around anyone, especially my family. I know I am a victim of the spotlight effect, but I can’t seem to shake it. In the moment, I am just so nervous that I never say the things I want to say or act the way I want to act. I always leave situations unhappy with my personality.

    Reply
    • I’ve always told myself that I can’t make friends and one of my best friends told me that “you have to start acting like your self because you’ve been acting like me by the way I dress or talked”. So I’m trying to learn how to be more out going and try to be myself. I found out I acted like her is because I was with her all the time. I never really liked my stomach. At school everyone made fun of my unibrow but I changed that by plucking it all the time so nobody knew at my new school. This girl at my school always tells me I’m fat and I’m a hoe but now I don’t care what she says because I’ve learned to accept myself for who I am and I am here on this earth for.

      Reply
  5. I have a big nose, i still have braces and im unsatisfied with my teeth, i have crooked lips, my mouth gets dry when im nervous (not good), i feel overweight, i may not have a good sense of style, im poor, i am socially awkward (i know, shocker), i have a scar on my lip and forhead:(, i dont have perfect skin, i dont like my chin, i have a round face, i have dark circles and bags under my eyes, i have few friends, and never kept close friends, im not up to date with social media and trends and stuff, and im a stupid squid. lol jk about the squid part, i just thought it would look funny. see. im a loser. oh well. ill try some of these tips, there the best ive heard!

    Reply
  6. It makes me happy to realise I’ve already started doing these things! I wasn’t always but about 5 years ago I realised I needed to change something about my mentality or I’d wind up hating myself and depressed. This has helped me understand why I do things the way I do, and introduced me to other stuff I can do.

    My insecurities are that I’m terrified of oversharing and people thinking I’m boring (I don’t drink or like going to events) I also worry that people think I’m mean. I enjoy banter but am hyper aware of peoples boundaries and am terrified of crossing a line, so if I think I’ve done something wrong I wind up apologising profusely even though so far no one has interpreted me as being mean or rude.

    Reply
  7. Hi David,

    Thanks for the self help article.

    For me, I will say am a forced introvert. I grow up like every normal child and liked by everyone but I had a childhood accident that left me with a missing part, because of this people, family and friends, joke and call me insultive names. They even playfully predicts my future. “I won’t be able to do this or get that in life”. As a young boy this made me very afraid and feel defected. Gradually, I started withdrawing from people and activities I like. A walking black box.

    Am the good looking quiet guy that sits alone and mind his business. I got used to being lonely because I found peace and calmness when I was alone and no one to talk about my injury. This withdrawal from social activities worked as a solution to my fear from sudden changes, name calling/rejection but am grown now and feel am stuck in that lonely life and can’t truly feel comfortable when people are around.

    I fake confidence and i can easily get girls because of my good looks but not the girls I truly like though. Also i just don’t make any attempts anymore because over time they discover am not so confident and very sensitive to criticism and we start having issues till break up.

    I have been trying to solve this problem because I know it’s traumatic and not a natural shyness.

    I also noticed along the line that I do well in short business meeting engagements. When discussing technical and important topics with facts and statistics, I can talk long and well but when it comes to making small talks and getting personal, I completely stay away from that because I dislike having the awkward silence and thinking about that makes me nervous.

    So David, How do I start making real progress, first with my family, since they where part of how my problem started, I am always uncomfortable around them and over compensate in everythig just to avoid their judgment. And this makes me distant and unlikable. With friends, I keep losing them because I can’t maintain the relationship. I am so used to my personal space and don’t call or visit. I feel confident when people don’t know me and can make friends to an average level.

    Basically I have developed an inferiority complex. Which is a major problem since I gradually lose belief in myself as I grow older.

    How do I go about breaking out of this to improve on my social life and maintain a close social circle?

    Thanks.

    Reply
  8. I think I am fat and not that good looking. when I was a kid I didn’t worry about any of that stuff bc I was a pure kid smiling all the time but so many things have happened to be and every time something bad happens to me its like I get a more clear look of the world and the people in it and I overthink everything and that’s where insecurities come to play

    Reply
  9. People always tell me this isn’t a flaw, however, I see it as one, I have a stutter. I have worked tirelessly to cover it up and substitute words I have trouble with easier to say words. I have gotten so good at it, that when I tell people I have a speech problem they never noticed. As you can probably see being social, especially towards strangers is difficult when my own name is tough for me to say.
    This article was very well written and will hopefully help me become the outgoing I strive to be. I understand the struggle is real for most people, sometimes we are our own worst enemy, but when you realize that what you say and think is meaningful, you’ll get what you want out of conversations.

    Reply
  10. I am the one who live childhood alone. My home is located in a isolate grassland, the nearest residence is 5 miles away. As I grew up, I am really introvert and clumsy at social interaction. It’s my fortune to see this article that really helpful for me.

    Reply
  11. Flaws? I have a spinal diesase called scheurmans kyphosis which give my back a hunch like appreance, bassicaly igor from hunchback of notchdome. Its my biggest insecurity. Growing up i was always starred at laughed at or just made fun of. Esspecially in school. I hit a low point in life and well i joined them. Id make fun of my back too. It started with (im thr best at dodge ball. When thr teacher says backs agaisnt the wall i have a head start). People usually stopped makeing fun of me. And started talking to me. Im very shy soccaly. And with strangers its hard for me to be myself. But this post made me realize that if i just be myself and stop being shy and that everyone has flaws. I can be outgoing and a great person to talk to. Thanks so much.

    Reply
  12. Great post! Thanks for the information. I totally relate to what you said about the cycle of unattractiveness. I would often be cold or distant towards other people because I didn’t want to try and approach them and risk being rejected. I would always wait for the other person to make the move before I took any initiative. I never realized it at the time but this was a weakness of mine. My low self esteem/confidence was preventing me from becoming more outgoing. I’m beginning to realize there is no harm in being vulnerable with other people, the worst that can happen is they don’t like me, big deal! What people think about me is not in my control. To continue with the exercise I’ll list off some of my other weaknesses: anxiety, low confidence, sensitive, jealous, selfish, afraid. It sucks having these problems but I think it’s good to be aware of them so I can begin to move forward in a constructive way.

    Reply
  13. For me it comes and goes. I feel confident about my looks and abilities, for the most part. When I talk/hang out with people I perceive as “on my level or below” whatever that even means, I feel more outgoing and confident.

    When I am around people who I perceive as more “successful” (better looking, professionally, socially, have more interesting things to say, etc) then I clam up and it is a pretty obvious. All of a sudden I feel judged for everything, which in my head I know isn’t true, but it’s still hard to shake that mentality.

    Reply
  14. I think for me when I’ve been on dates my nervousness and its usaully a bar or a busy coffee shop I’m not big on crowds feels like the spot light is on me? I never been to good
    in this field.

    I get frustrated I can’t keep the conversation going most of the time I overthink questions sometimes when I do it’s only for a bit then I go revert back to silence/small talk I am quite shy to begin with girls say I come across as awkward at times need to overcome this frustrating!

    Reply
  15. I am socially inept. No art of conversation. I havr tried some of the methods listed, but just cannot get any success. I try to engage in a conversation but the mind just goes blank. I don’t feel I have anything worthwhile to say and nothing in my past that is worthy of making conversation.
    I’m clumsy around people I’m attracted to, always saying the wrong things and making them dislike me, or not want to talk with me. Sometimes feel desperately lonely, but I just know that I’m destined to this situaton, until death.

    Reply
    • Never underestimate the power of doing just a little bit of practice every day for months.

      You see, you’re very likely to fail the first, second and tenth attempt you try something as advanced as social interaction.

      But slowly, your brain will build new neural pathways and learn. This takes months, just like it takes months to learn anything in life, like a new language, to be good at sports, etc.

      I know what you talk about and there have been periods in my life where I’ve doubted if I’ll ever improve. I did, but you have to practice again and again for your new social “functionality” to start manifesting in your brain.

      Never give up, and 2 years from now, you’ll see why 🙂

      David

      Reply
  16. Actually I become very quiet when people are around me..I just don’t know how to start conversation. My parent always scold me for this because I am very quiet and uncomfortable during our family gathering or with relatatives around.. I am not very sociable.. Maybe because I don’t know what to talk and no matter how many times I try I always end up being quiet and no fun.. I don’t find any topic to talk about.. Especially when it’s about my cousins whom I didn’t know exists.. And also when I am with old people.. I want to fill their loneliness and talk about things but I end up not agreeing with them or not finding anything to talk about… Sometimes I think why am I like this… Am I the only one who behaves like this… People around me think I am very weird cause I don’t talk with them.. Once my friend took me with her to introduce me with her friends.. I didn’t know anyone of them so when my friend went to washroom… The situation become awkward more like worse. When she returned I was like.. Ok I am going.. Pls enjoy with your friends… And that’s when I knew that I will never be able to become sociable.. Sometimes I think it’s because I have very low self esteem or I just think they will judge me.. ?I shouldn’t think that way though I always tell myself that it doesn’t matter if they judge cause you are you… But I don’t listen.. ? I want to change this part of me..

    Reply
  17. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable around others because I feel like they are SO much better than me, and that they would never like me because I am not as good as them. And that also plays into me being easily intimidated by others. I also really try to avoid talking about personal issues because I feel that people could not possibly understand my problems.
    Also, I struggle to keep an interesting conversation going because my brain always blanks out for no reason, but I am going to practice these helpful tips to improve myself!

    Reply
  18. I never know how to start a conversation, so I just wait for people to talk to me and well, it doesnt work very well. Eathier no one talks to me or they say something and I dont know how to respond. It becomes very awkward and it’s just horrible. My brother even says I’m socially awkward which doesnt help. I can easily talk around friends, but I dont have very many because I dont talk unless they talk to me. I get extremely nervous when new people try to talk to me. And I think it the reason I’m so nervous is because I’m worried they will think what I said was stupid and I dont feel confident with the way I look.

    Reply
  19. The problem is that I’m way too quiet. I’m new at this school (going on to my 6th month) and I have a really small group of friends. I feel like I’m always last choice or I’m a pity case because no one talks to me unless I do to them. I’m confused on whether I chose bad friends or if it’s a problem that I’m not as loud and outgoing as they are. I feel left out because of my quietness and am starting to feel it’s because of my looks, only resulting in me to feel worse and become quieter then normal. There good people I’m just not sure if they like me. And what’s even more confusing is that I use to talk to them during my first month and was more louder. Now it’s like I shut everyone out.

    Reply
  20. Im too preoccupied with being the most popular and being liked that I end up doing the exact opposite. Im never really included in group conversations and sometimes I just wish to be even noticed and hoping someone even asks me a question and engage me so I can feel included. Whenever I speak to someone , all I could think about is how not to look like a loser. Im very insecure about being funny that I end up being mean. I become mean as a means of compensating for not being popular or cool. Im always afraid to put myself into group conversations because I feel like I’m being judged. Im very insecure when talking to others and I smile overtly with strangers and it makes me feel like I’m kissing their but just for them to like me. All I want is to feel included in a group or to even have a best friend. I wish I could be funny like some people, that way I could feel more included, cool and likeable. Sometimes I see people having so much to talk about and laughing, that I wish I was that person who even has something to say. A lot of times I’m just quite because I don’t even have anything to say. A black box.

    Reply
  21. This was helpful. It made me realize the things I needed to work on. So my situation is a bit weird, I’ve improved over the past years trying to get to the point I’m already at, it’s not perfect but it’s at least improved. I’m not social, but I talk a lot, but when I don’t know the person well I tend to blank out or be shy and quiet and makes it akward and hard for the person to talk to me. And I tend to try too hard and add my humor in conversations but since I’m under so much pressure in conversations, it’s not even funny and it doesn’t come out the way I was hoping. I love making people smile.. that’s why I want to get better at socializing. It also doesn’t help that I stutter, it was so much worse before.. but it’s still a everyday struggle for me. And when it’s someone I like, my face turns SOOO red.. it’s embarassing, especially when they point it out ???. But yes, I’m glad I’ve improved and I hope to get even better, I’m going to push myself and do everything that was instructed here. I hope that I’ll be fun to be around and just have everyone see that I’m an interesting person. I can’t wait. Sir god bless you for writing all these out… idk what I’d do without you man.. ??

    Reply
  22. I hide so much about myself in fear of being judged, likely because I was made fun of as a kid for liking things that were seen as weird. I like emo/pop punk music, but I think people would think it’s immature for someone my age and I don’t want to be associated with some of the stereotypes that come with it. I play multiple instruments but I don’t talk about it because I feel like I’m bragging and that people who play those instruments would judge me for being bad. I like playing online pet games, even though I’m nearly an adult, and that’s what I got bullied for as a child. I’ve known I was bisexual for years, but I haven’t come out to my (supportive) friends because I still worry they’ll think I’m weird. I worry about what people think of my appearance, how my face is a weird shape and my nose is big and how I pick at the skin around my nails and it looks gross (and I do that because I’m nervous, which makes me more nervous). I’ve dealt with mental health issues my whole life but I’ve never told even my closest friends and family because I think they’ll see me as weak. I have so many insecurities, and I’m tired of it. I want to be able to share my interests with people without thinking about what they think of me.

    Reply
  23. I’ve always felt insecure of my long neck, small teeth/my smile, the sound of my own voice, and just my overall lean-body type. It sounds kind of stupid but nonetheless I worry about these things. A lot of the time I feel like I can’t connect with people, and I always am concerned if it’s because of one of those factors. I also want to connect with so many people, but there are always roadblocks to me talking to them. However, this article is very helpful, even if it might be hard to learn how to use all the tips you’ve mentioned, I’ll try to take this into account to improve my social skills with everyone around me.

    Reply

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