How to be less socially awkward

Most people feel socially awkward every now and then, finding themselves in situations that trigger all sorts of nervous reactions within them. Cheeks go red, palms go sweaty and they can’t peel their eyes away from the exit sign. Find out why this might happen and what to do about it. If you're struggling there are things you can do.

You might find this useful if:

  • You find yourself really socially awkward
  • You’re not sure why you feel so nervous in some situations
  • You want tips to help you deal with feeling intimidated by social situations
Girl in crowd looking at camera

We’re all a bit socially awkward sometimes

Most people will experience an uncomfortable social situation every now and then. This kind of situation could be anything from a blind date, to a house party with hundreds of strangers. Feeling intimidated by certain social scenarios is totally normal, and there are a number of possible causes, such as:

  • Not knowing anyone at the event
  • Feeling as though you’re being judged
  • Feeling too nervous to be yourself
  • Having a negative opinion of yourself
  • Over thinking what you say
  • Believing that you’re no good at making conversation
  • Not drinking alcohol when lots of other people around you are
  • Feeling intimidated by specific people, like figures of authority or someone you reeeeeeally like

These things can all be tricky to deal with and can make it pretty tempting to avoid certain social situations altogether. Fortunately, there are some simple tips that you can put into action to manage these concerns and make the most of future outings.

Say goodbye to sweaty palms

The more you experience social situations that make you uncomfortable, the more familiar you become with the triggers that you make you feel this way. Next time, instead of running in the opposite direction put the following tips into action so you can work towards overcoming your social awkwardness once and for all:

  • It’s not a performance, and you’re not being assessed

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that those around you are making judgements about how ‘successful’ you are at socializing and being charming and charismatic and all the rest of it. They’re not. Everyone socialises differently, and there’s no right or wrong way to go about it.

  • Don’t focus on what you aren’t

Sometimes, if we’re feeling uncomfortable in social situations it’s because we’re comparing ourselves to those around us. We notice how that guy has great hair, and how that girl knows how to make everyone laugh. Instead of focusing on that, focus on what you can bring to the table.

  • Everyone else is thinking the same thing

If you’re standing there wondering what people might be thinking about you, chances are everyone else is standing around thinking the exact same thing about themselves.

  • Smile 
Smiling will make you will seem more approachable, and it can actually trick your brain into thinking that you’re happy. Take that, Brain.

  • Ask questions
People appreciate when you make an effort to learn about them. Once you get chatting you might find that you ease into things a bit more and you feel less uncomfortable in your surroundings. 

  • You are what you say you are

You’ve probably seen videos of people trying to hype themselves up in the mirror, saying “you can do this.” They look cheesy and ridiculous, but positive self-talk really works. If you tell yourself you’re confident and comfortable, you might just feel that way. 

  • Take a friend

You’re more likely to feel relaxed if you’ve got a familiar face hanging around. Ask a friend to go with you next time you think you might feel socially awkward.

  • Relax
What’s the worst that could happen? Check out some ways to relax and remind yourself that whether you like it or not, the situation will soon be over.

Struggling?

Putting these tips into action isn’t easy. It takes practice and discipline, and it might take a long time before you feel comfortable in social situations. If you’re having a really hard time and you often feel intense anxiety in social situations, there might be something else going on and you should chat to your GP or a mental health professional about it. They can help you figure out what’s going on and work with you to devise a plan of attack.

What can I do now?

Last reviewed: 26 August, 2015
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3 Comments

  • brh418    (380 days ago)

    I appreciated your comment, lanejane

  • lanejane    (898 days ago)

    Hey Branson!

    When I first started at uni I felt really anxious about starting conversations with people... and then if someone spoke to me like 2 minutes in I would just go blank and run out of stuff to stay. Something that has really helped me to improve my communication is just focusing on the other person. I ask heaps of questions about anything and everything! Once the other person starts talking, I seem to relax a little and the conversation flows better because there's not so much pressure on me to come up with stuff to say. Some of the stuff I ask about is like how their day has been, what they are doing over the next week, family, interests, outfit, school, study etc. I used to even write a list of questions the night before or like think about conversation starters in my car on the way there. That way I was prepared if needed it.

    The other thing I did which really helped (although it was kinda hard the first few times) is just admit that I am having a bit of trouble thinking about what to say. I would be like "sorry, i'm stuck on what to say but i'm glad we are talking" or I would say to the person sitting next to me "please dont think im ignoring you, im just bad at starting conversations" and i'd smile at them. Sometimes honesty is really refreshing and it helps. In these situations the other person would understand what I was going through and they were patient with me while I was thinking about stuff to say.

    Maybe you could try some of those things?

  • Branson    (899 days ago)

    Sometimes I feel totally blank in my head when comes to social gathering or when I'm talking to someone. I just can't think of a topic to start a conversation or perhaps, it gets stuck half way through the conversation when I'm out of topic to talk about. How do I improve myself in this area?