Hi, my name is James and I am an introvert.
I find it difficult to strike up conversations with people, both friends and strangers. Even when I am in conversation I find it difficult to stay focussed on what is being said and to respond. I suddenly find myself going off in a tangent to the conversation around me, as I follow my own inner monologue until I am no longer part of the conversation.
Now, I’m not saying being an introvert is such a bad thing, some of the greatest minds in history such as Albert Einstein were introverts. I am very happy with my life as I have a beautiful wife and just recently become a father for the first time to a perfect little boy. I’m very lucky. And yet I wish I knew how to be more social.
I guess I’ve always been an introvert. All through school I always felt awkward when in large groups. I’ve always tried to avoid situations where I would have to sit and converse with others. It’s not that I am unfriendly, or at least not purposefully. I just don’t feel comfortable around people.
It’s never really bothered me much in the past. However as I am getting older I am noticing more and more the benefits of being more social. Being able to have conversations with people doesn’t have to be a chore. Knowing how to be more social can open up so many opportunities both in your private life and in business. Being social helps you build rapport with others around you and generally makes others want to spend more time with you.
Why do I need to learn how to be more social?
Now my little boy is here, I want him to grow up not afraid of social situations, but to embrace them. I personally think the extroverts of this world find it much easier to grab opportunities when they come along. Of course I want the best for him, so I’ve been making a conscious effort to learn how to be more social so he is more comfortable around people and social situations.
There are a few things I’ve learnt in my time learning how to be more social that I want to share with others who feel the same way. I am by no means a different person to when I started out, but I do feel a lot more comfortable around people than I used to, and I even look forward to some things I would otherwise have been dreading.
If you learn anything from my website, or would like to share some of your experiences in learning how to be more social please get in touch. I would love to hear from you.
Learn How To Be More Social
Until recently I would never have classed myself as a “social person”. Ever since I can remember I’ve always just assumed I was different to everyone else. That I simply wasn’t cut out for being a sociable person. Everyone else seemed to naturally be able to hold conversations with others, whereas I would find it a real struggle to speak to people. Not that I’m rude, it just didn’t come naturally to me. However, I’m recently learning how to be more social, and I’ve realised it’s not a magical natural ability for only the few lucky ones. Every one of us as humans want to interact with others and socialise. Without wanting to spark debate about the meaning of life, it’s what we are born to do. And you know what? Anyone can be social. I’ve learned a few simple tricks that have really helped me improve my own social skills and hopefully you can learn something here that will show you how to be more social.
I’m still very reserved and quiet, but I’ve found myself becoming more and more comfortable in social situations. I remember countless conversations where I would drift off into my own little world until I was no longer part of the conversation in the room. I remember thinking if only I knew how to be more social.
Tips on how to be more social
Before you can learn how to be more social, you need to be comfortable with who you are and be grateful for what you have. Think about everything that is good in your life, this can be family, friends, neighbours, your home, pets, education, money, photographs, and so on. Our own self-worth is easily overlooked, but taking stock of what you have and being grateful can help you build confidence in yourself and make you more willing to put yourself out there and talk to others.
People are attracted to positive and optimistic people. This point is a follow-on from the previous point. While learning how to be more social, try making a conscious effort to be more positive and things that happen to you. This isn’t just while in social situations, but at any time regardless of who is about. Things are rarely as bad as they first appear, so try to smile more and remember to…
They say laughter is the best medicine. I don’t know how well it works for physical ailments such as flu but it certainly makes you feel better and helps you to be more positive and optimistic as well. Laughing when someone is telling a funny story helps keep you active in the conversation without having to say anything, so it’s a great way to get started becoming more social. Just be sure to laugh at the appropriate times!
Simple this such as sitting forward in your seat when talking with someone, or making good eye contact can really help you engage with others. Sitting back or avoiding eye contact can lead to you becoming distanced from the conversation. Remember, communication isn’t just what you say, it’s how you say it. Body language tells the other person you are interested and encourages them to keep talking with you.
When was the last time you actively went out of your way to help someone. Doing a good deed for someone helps you feel more comfortable speaking to them in the future. Things like making someone in your office a cup of coffee, or going shopping for your elderly neighbour. The old cliché “actions speak louder than words” is certainly true when building relationships with others.
To really engage with others and hold conversations with people, you need an active mind. One of the best ways to keep yourself alert and in tip top shape is through regular exercise. I’m sure you are already aware of the importance of exercise for your physical health, but its just as important for your mental health and helps keep you bright and alert. Plus, the gym is a great place to meet other people, and you already have something in common as a great conversation starter.
This is one of my favourite bits of advice. I can’t remember exactly where I found this, but if I find it I will link to it here. If you’ve watched “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?” you will be well aware of improvisation in a comedy setting. Improvisation is used in dramatics and acting as well, where actors create a scene out of nothing by reacting to each other and going with the flow. One trick they use is to respond to what someone else just said by asking another question. Something like “That’s right, and did you know that…?”, or “I’m not sure, but I did read an article on…”, or simply “Yes, and…”. It’s a great way of keeping conversation flowing without stopping it dead. You could just reply “Yes”, but where does the conversation go from there? It’s up to you to offer a new direction for the conversation, and saying “Yes, and…” is a great way of doing this. Plus it is easy to remember.
Here’s a bit more about the “Yes, and…” philosophy
If you’ve tried any of these tricks yourself, let me know how you got on using the comments below. Especially number 7 as it has really helped me learning how to be more social.