It’s pretty common to feel socially awkward at times. Making conversation with strangers, trying to mingle, or going on a first date can all be really nerve-wracking! Learn how to keep your cool, make conversation, and be yourself when you’re out and about.
This can help if:
- you feel intimidated by social situations
- you get really nervous and flustered when meeting new people
- you want to make new friends and improve your social skills.
We’re all a bit socially awkward sometimes
You’re in a room full of strangers. Your cheeks are turning red, your palms are sweaty and you just can’t get the words out right. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Most people feel uncomfortable in social situations every now and then. Even people who look like they’re completely cool can be a bundle of nerves on the inside.
How to stay cool and be yourself
The more you experience uncomfortable social situations, the more familiar you will become with the triggers that make you feel this way. Next time, instead of running in the opposite direction, put the following tips into action:
- It’s not a performance: It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that those around you are judging how ‘successful’ you are at socialising and being charming. They’re not. There’s no need to impress anyone! 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 feel uncomfortable in social situations it’s because we’re comparing ourselves to those around us. We notice how that guy has great hair, or how that girl makes everyone laugh. Instead of trying to measure up to others, focus on what you bring to the table.
- Ask questions: Simple fact: most people LOVE to talk about themselves. Asking people questions allows them to do the talking while you ease yourself into a social situation. Before you go out, think of a few generic questions you can ask. Some examples include: ‘Have you read any good books lately?’; “Have you seen [insert title of latest movie blockbuster]?’; ‘What are you studying?’; ‘What music are you listening to at the moment?’
- Try some positive self-talk: If you feel really nervous before a social situation, try saying to yourself: ‘I feel confident and comfortable.’ Repeat it out loud or in your head as many times as you like. It may seem cheesy and ridiculous, but positive self-talk really works.
- Take a friend: You’re more likely to feel relaxed if there’s a familiar face close by. Ask a friend to go with you the next time you think you might feel socially awkward.
- Pay someone a compliment: Next time you see someone wearing a cool T-shirt, let them know you like their style. Genuine compliments make people feel good and are a great icebreaker.
- Mind your body language: Having open, relaxed body language makes everyone feel more comfortable. It also shows that you’re listening. Smile and try to maintain eye contact to show you’re interested in what others are saying.
- Smile: Smiling will make you more approachable, and it can actually trick your brain into thinking that you’re happy. Ha! Take that, brain!
What to do if you’re really struggling
Putting these tips into action takes practice, and it might take some time to 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 the issue is and work with you to figure out a plan of action.
What can I do now?
- Talk to a trusted friend or family member about how you feel when you socialise. They might help put things into perspective.
- Prepare a list of generic questions you can use the next time you’re out.
- Read our guide to better communication.