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“It doesn’t seem like anybody is interested in talking to me. I’m not really sure why. Maybe I’m weird. Or maybe I’m boring to others. I want to have conversations with people, but it seems so awkward, so I mostly just keep to myself. What should I do?” – Chris.
Are you wondering why nobody talks to you? Do you feel like you’re alone and can’t make meaningful connections with others? Have you considered the reasons for this issue?
If it seems like nobody talks to you, it’s worth considering the root of the problem. Let’s get into some of the common variables.
Whether you realize it or not, standoffish body language may indicate to other people to stay away. On the other hand, if people perceive you as open and warm, they may feel more inclined to talk to you.
Although body language is subtle, it’s incredibly powerful. Some examples of unapproachable body language include:
- Standing with your arms crossed.
- Avoiding eye contact when talking to others.
- Constantly fidgeting with your feet or hands.
- Hiding your body behind things (such as a purse, phone, book, or drink).
If you think you struggle with looking standoffish, consider approaching people as if they are already your friend. If you take on that mentality, you may feel more inclined to look and smile at others. If eye contact still feels challenging, focus on looking at the space between or slightly above the eyes.
Small talk is often a necessary skill when it comes to building social connections. Small talk can help build rapport, and rapport is what makes people trust and like you.
This article on the FORD-Method focuses on how to engage in universal conversations.
Mastering small talk is one skill, but it’s also important to have follow-up questions and answers. Think about the question, why should people want to talk to you? What do you have to offer them?
This may seem somewhat nerve-wracking, but it’s important to do this introspection. How do you learn how to have interesting conversations? You need to focus and commit to the process of becoming more interesting yourself!
Luckily, people who practice being truly interested in others tend to come off as more interesting themselves. Focus on getting to know people and in between your sincere and thoughtful questions share reflections and bits and pieces about your own life.
If someone tells you that they, say, are a writer, there are different ways you can respond.
- If you only respond with an “OK”, you’ll risk coming off as disinterested or even boring.
- If you say “my cousin writes, too”, you’re a little bit more engaging, but still not very interesting.
- If you ask what type of writer they are, and then ask what they like the most about their job, the conversation becomes more interesting.
- If you now, after having asked a few thoughtful questions about what motivates them, reflect about what you like about your job, and maybe even find mutual things that you are motivated by, you’re likely having an interesting conversation.
Read more in our guide on tips for making interesting conversation.
Sometimes we can become overly excited when we finally do connect with someone. However, instead of reading social cues, we blurt out things without thinking. Typically, this is a response to both anxiety and insecurity.
Of course, this strategy can backfire. Oversharing is similar to overdoing anything. You may not realize it’s happening until it’s too late, and then you tend to feel ashamed or embarrassed about your disclosures.
To avoid oversharing, aim to be more conscious of your word choices. How often do you use the words, I, me, myself, or mine? Think about it the next time you talk to someone. Focus more on you, yours, yourself.
The goal isn’t to only talk about others, nor only talk about you. Friendships tend to develop when there’s a balance between sharing and learning about the other person.
If you struggle with low self-esteem, your negative thoughts about yourself may prevent you from creating healthy relationships. Building your self-esteem doesn’t happen instantly. It’s a long process, but people with higher levels of self-esteem tend to have a more satisfying social life.
First, it’s important to remember that we tend to overestimate how well people can spot our anxiety. Most people are focused on themselves. They aren’t paying close attention to your feelings or reactions.
This guide on becoming less self-conscious delves more into how to value yourself and cultivate unconditional self-worth.
Negative energy can be off-putting, particularly if it’s the only way you connect with others. While you don’t need to be inauthentically optimistic, complaining about everything can make you seem like a victim.
Insight is the first step for managing your pessimism. Consider placing a hair tie or rubber band around your wrist. Flick it whenever you hear yourself complaining. At first, you may notice that you’re flicking the band often. That’s okay! This conscious exercise will help you become more mindful of your negative energy.
For more on using this rubber band technique, check out this guide by Lifehacker.
It may sound trite, but positive mindsets can be contagious. After all, people want to be around people who feel good.
Being overly positive
Just like complaining too much can be frustrating, most people don’t want to be around someone who’s always cheerful. Why? It tends to come across as disingenuous.
How do you know if you’re too positive? You can tell by the way you respond to other people when they complain. If you always jump to a mantra like, just think positively, or, it’s not that bad!, or, It’s all going to be okay!, you might be invalidating their emotions completely.
Instead, try to focus on just listening. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. If they just got in an awful fight with their mother, imagine how that must feel. While they may benefit from thinking positively, they also need to know that you support them.
Being disinterested in other people
You might think you are open to meeting new people, but you might also engage in off-putting behaviors like:
- Spending all your time on your phone when you’re out in public.
- Only choosing to talk to 1-2 people at social events.
- Making statements like, People suck, or I don’t need people!
- Not asking people about themselves when in a conversation.
When you go out, tell yourself that you are setting an intention to connect with other people. Remind yourself that often when you’re moving throughout the day. Make it a challenge to become interested in others by engaging in small talk and reaching out to friends.
When someone asks how your day is going, do you just respond with a fine or good? These are considered closed responses, and they make other people “dig” for more information. Over time, this digging can become burdensome.
Instead, challenge yourself to respond with an answer and a question. For example, if someone asks you how your day is going, respond, “It’s going okay. I’ve been busy all day with work. I’m going to the gym in a bit, though, so that’s good. How is your day?”
This same mentality also applies when asking people questions. Don’t ask questions that lend a hand to a “yes” or “no” response. For example, instead of asking someone if they liked a movie, ask them what their favorite part was. Instead of asking, “are you okay?”, try saying, “I’ve noticed you seem more withdrawn. What’s been going on?”
People want to be friends with people who are willing to put in the work to be a good friend. If you don’t take responsibility for your actions, people will lose interest.
What does it mean to put forth effort in your relationships? First, it means seeking opportunities for spending time together. If you’re always declining social invitations, people will stop asking you to hang out.
It also means reaching out when you think someone needs support. This doesn’t need to be complicated. A simple text like, “I’m thinking of you. I know you’re going through a lot, and I’m here. Can we meet up next week?” is sufficient.
It’s impossible to engage in social skills if you’re isolated at home all day.
Commit to “being in the world” as often as possible. This means choosing to run errands instead of ordering things online. It means getting involved in sports, hobbies, or social groups- even if you don’t necessarily know anyone.
Getting out in the world is challenging. This isn’t about being comfortable. It’s about having the willingness to take risks and practice new social skills.
Commit to taking baby steps with other people. For example, say hello to a neighbor when you get your mail. Ask a waiter how her day is going.
Remember that you will make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Most of the time, these mistakes won’t be as humiliating or unforgivable as you think they are.
In some cases, you might be making broad generalizations about other people’s feelings or behaviors. For example, you might assume that their lack of reaching out means they don’t like you.
But this may not be true. Sometimes, people are busy. They might be focused on something happening in their own lives. They may also be worried about rejection, and they’re waiting for you to initiate the conversation first. And at times, people can just be flaky- they mean to talk or spend time with you, but they forget or get preoccupied with something else.
It’s helpful to avoid judging the quality of your relationships based on who begins the conversation. Remember that most people aren’t trying to offend or hurt you. They’re just trying to take care of themselves. Keeping this in mind can help you feel less isolated or upset.
It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re keeping yourself busy. If you don’t have any interests, you may become more fixated on what other people are doing. Focus on building more meaning in your life- hobbies, sports, spirituality, and learning new skills can help with that.
If you isolate yourself, you don’t give other people the opportunity to reach out to you. It becomes a self-fulfilling cycle. You might feel like nobody talks to you, so you isolate. But when you isolate, nobody talks to you.
Identify the key issue
Why are you isolating? What scares you most about being social with others? Are you afraid of abandonment? Rejection? Take a moment to write down your fears in a journal. This insight will help you understand your triggers better.
Start with one person
You don’t need to become a social butterfly overnight. You can lift yourself out of isolation by trying to connect with just one person. Text an old friend. Ask a neighbor if they need help getting groceries out of their car. Smile at the stranger in line at the bank.
Isolation can be a core symptom of depression. You may benefit from talking with a mental health professional if this is the case. Therapy can help you improve your self-esteem, and you will learn healthy coping skills for managing your insecurities and fears.
We recommend BetterHelp for online therapy, since they offer unlimited messaging and a weekly session, and is much cheaper than going to an actual therapist's office. They are also cheaper than Talkspace for what you get. You can learn more about BetterHelp here.
First impressions are important, and poor hygiene may turn people off before they even have the chance to know you.
Good personal hygiene includes the following habits:
- Washing your body often with soap and water.
- Brushing your teeth after every meal (or at least once a day).
- Washing your hands after using the restroom.
- Washing hands when preparing or before eating food.
- Using towels when working out.
- Washing your hair with shampoo often.
- Washing your clothes and wearing clean ones every time you go out.
- Staying home when you feel sick and covering your mouth if you cough or sneeze.
- Wearing deodorant or antiperspirant.
Being snarky or judgmental about other people
If you’re always badmouthing other people, don’t be surprised if nobody talks to you!
Instead, try to speak positively when talking about others. Even if you feel upset or angry, keep those feelings to yourself. Don’t spread rumors or gossip. You never know if those comments will get back to the original person.
Try to see the best in other people. That means understanding that it’s okay to have differences. You don’t have to necessarily like everything someone else does, but you should try to respect their decisions.
Getting overly attached to people
If you become clingy, people might pull away when they get close to you. Nobody wants to feel like they’re suffocating in a relationship.
Try to mirror the other person’s actions. For example, if they never call you, don’t start calling them every day to ask about their day. If they usually respond with a quick sentence and emoji, don’t blow up their phone with multiple paragraphs. Over time, you may feel more comfortable being yourself. But at the beginning, it’s a good idea to err on the side of caution.
Try not to make your entire world revolve around the other person. This can be uncomfortable. Instead, focus on having your own interests and hobbies. It’s okay to make people feel important, but you don’t want to make them feel like they are the only person you need.
Talking about inappropriate topics
Some things are better left unsaid. When you’re getting to know someone new, you want to steer away from taboo conversations related to:
- Personal health issues.
- Personal finances.
- Family and relationship issues.
That’s not to say you can’t ever talk about these topics. Sometimes, they make for fantastic conversation. But try to keep things more surface-level when getting to know someone. Stick with small talk topics related to local events, the weather, and your mutual hobbies and interests.
Being overly emotional
People might not want to talk to you if they think you’re too sensitive, angry, or sad. Of course, it’s okay to have emotions (you can’t help how you feel!), but you should try to regulate them.
You can do this by:
- Pausing before you speak.
- Allowing yourself some space if you feel really activated.
- Keeping a mood journal to understand patterns.
- Stating your emotion to yourself.
- Reminding yourself that the moment will pass.
Real friends engage in mutual and ongoing conversation. When you have this kind of authentic relationship, you feel understood and connected.
Friendships are two-way streets, and they require work, effort, and respect. See out our guide “I have no friends” for more tips on how to build a social circle from scratch.