To be social means being able to comfortably interact with other people and enjoy their company.
We often think we are autonomous beings capable of living alone. The truth is we need human interaction much more than we think. Human beings live better lives when they are in good interaction with their environment. To be specific, with other human beings.
Even the person with the highest self-love craves a social connection. The deep conversations, the funny jokes, and the feeling of belongingness to a group or couple of people give life priceless meaningfulness.
Without social interaction, life gets boring and so lonely. With the unquantifiable need to be social to be able to connect with other people, many still find it hard to do so. It requires some basic skills which some people do not have.
Whether you are an introvert, antisocial, or want to socialize more, committing to the ways below will boost your ability to be social a hundred and ten percent.
1. Make your inner conversations and self-talk positive.
How you talk to yourself greatly determines how you perceive others. If you often call yourself negative staff, chances are you are going to look for the same things in other people. It’s hard to comfortably interact with people who you have already perceived negatively.
We often get so self-absorbed and start to think that people are so attentive to what is going on in our lives. We then become anxious and overly concerned with how we interact with them. The truth is people pay little to no attention to what you do. Do not be so tied up with yourself. Do not be so critical of yourself unless it affects them in some way.
You are as good as you believe yourself to be. If you tell yourself that you are not good at conversations, you will be that. Yes, at the moment you may not be good but if you change your self-talk, to ‘’I can be good at conversations’’, you give yourself a chance, and soon enough you become.
2. Draw attention away from yourself.
Often times when we make attempts to socialize we get so concerned with how we talk and what we say. We even try to keep the conversation about ourselves giving little to no attention to the people we are interacting with.
Other people want attention just like you. They badly want to tell their story like you do. Being able to give attention and time to listen to others makes you so charming which boosts your ability to socialize.
Draw attention from yourself and focus outwards on people. If you listen so well and get to know the person or people you are interacting with, chances are high that you won’t even have to try so hard to be good with them. It will come naturally.
Take time to study people, their verbal statements, and non-verbal statements. If you can tell that someone is bored by your conversation, you won’t push hard to talk to them. Your ability to not try hard will actually come off as confident making people comfortable around you.
Learn to use your body language to give people authentic responses and reactions. A straight posture makes you appear confident for people to feel comfortable with you. A smile disarms other people of any prejudices, anxiety, and nervousness around you.
3. Identify your subtle avoidance behaviors and eliminate them.
There are things you do that are more like the ‘’shop closed’’ tag on the shop door. They make people think you prefer to be alone so they give you space.
These are sometimes done unconsciously or on purpose to perhaps disguise underlying fears of interaction.
Avoidance behaviors separate you from the community. How you fair with people in terms of relationships is accorded to your ability to control these subtle avoidance behaviors. Such behaviors include; the inability to attend social events without someone else, the inability to start conversations and wait for others to do it, going to the corner or at the back where less focus from people is put, using your phone while others are talking.
Other behaviors may include body-focused repetitive behaviors like picking your nose, scratching your bum, sucking on fingers, uncurbed yearning, and poor hygiene. These make people avoid interacting with you.
4. Be generous
Being friendly is more about giving than receiving. Develop empathy to quickly detect how others are feeling and respond accordingly. If they are celebrating, celebrate with them. If they are sad, give them emotional support. If you can afford it, often surprise them with a gift or a treat.
These gestures are a great way to socialize with people if you are not so good with words. Fortunately, they are more impactful than words. Jokes and humor last for a moment but it will take you a while to forget the surprise gift your friend gave you. Giving is the glue that sticks a quality network of people.
5. Meet the right people.
Perhaps the reason you can not socialize is that you are going to the wrong places or are trying to interact with people you have nothing in common with.
Our ability to be social is greatly determined by how able we are to understand others and be understood as well.
If you have a deep inclination and interest in science, chances are you will have little to talk about with people interested in spirituality. Go to clubs or places where people you want to meet hang out.
It is also important to consider interacting from a conversation conducive environment. If you only go to clubs and bars to meet people, chances are you won’t get to know them enough to build enough rapport. Clubs and bars are noisy. People go there to drink and dance with little conversations.
Being good at socializing is a cultivated skill that needs time and patience. At the start, it might be hard to interact with people who have no interest in what you are interested in. Find those that you will enjoy listening to and vice versa. Gradually, you gain the skills to explore conversations with people different from you.
6. Find ways to meet the same people repeatedly.
Becoming social is also determined by how familiar you are with the people around you. You will find it very easy to start a conversation with the person you always see at the gym or the reserved Indian genius you always see at the library.
Meeting people often makes you familiar with them and also makes them familiar with you. The more you meet, the more inhibitions you lose. Then you can delve into deeper personal interactions that strengthen your relationship. Do not go to one gym, club, class, or church once and then go to another. Show up at least once a week so that you can build what you started.
7. Be intentional about building social networks.
Your friend knows someone you do not know. Every person has a potential network behind them. Have an interest in knowing the friends of your friends. You do not have to be awkward about it. Arranging meet-ups with your friends and asking them to bring their friends is a good way to start.
When you meet a new person, show interest in knowing them. Share contacts and initiate a chat to follow up on them. Arrange to meet them again not to keep the interaction online only. Social media is great for keeping in touch but it can never beat face-to-face interaction when it comes to building relationships.
8. See yourself as the social person you are.
Your situation is as true as your mind perceives it. 85% of what happens to us is caused by our thoughts. What makes you antisocial is your mind. The inferiority complex thoughts make you imagine things you shouldn’t be imagining.
You imagine how people are looking at you, what they are thinking about you, how you don’t fit in. It is these very things that subdue you into looking down on yourself and being antisocial.
The good news is that you are the master of your own mind. All you need is to sit down ponder carefully and make your mind obey you through positive thoughts, affirmations, and visualization. Visualize yourself as a social person and act it. With time, it will become second nature.
When you get any lingering negative thoughts offset them with a positive one. If the monkey mind tells you that you are bad at conversations, tell it you are getting better at conversations. This will take out the anxiety that comes with affirming that you are good at conversations yet you feel otherwise. Affirming that you are becoming better, calms your nerves, takes away resistance, and shuts the monkey mind.
9. Practice being friendly and relaxed.
Another way to become social is by being friendly and relaxed. Think of a person whose face is always gloomy and angry, whose words don’t carry any kindness. That kind of person is hard to be friends with. To practice being friendly, treat other people as you want to be treated.
Let your words make people instead of breaking them. You can do this by giving compliments, listening to people, asking them genuine questions to know them, being nonjudgmental and tolerant.
Also, practice being calm and relaxed in social situations. When you are tensed up and nervous, you unintentionally make the other person uncomfortable as well. When you are relaxed they become relaxed as well. Speak with a calm voice and confident posture.
10. Do fun things with others
Hobbies are a great way to socialize with people. They not only give you fun and memorable moments but also remove inhibitions between you and people. In a study, it was confirmed that people are more willing to help or do business with those they have very intimate moments with. A better way to have those intimate moments is by becoming outgoing.
Find that one thing or hobby you love to do for fun. Invite your friends or the person you helped at the gym and have a good time. When you give a person a moment of joy, they will remember you for it. It is okay to go to the bar or club as long as you always find time for talks in a conducive environment.
Do not shy away from invitations to a party, hang out, trip or dinner. Yes, sometimes our minds imagine in advance how it will turn out. You start to think that you won’t have fun, that you will get bored or bore your friends. All those are self-created inhibitions to self sabotage you from being social. Let the thoughts come but do not give in to them. Go to the party and handle each moment as it comes.
With that discussed, let’s see some of the benefits of being social
- It stops the habitual feeling of loneliness
- Socializing strengthens your memory and cognitive abilities.
- It gives you a sense of belonging and boosts your mood.
- Socializing builds social capital which gives you access to help whenever you need it.
- Research shows that having a network of support or strong community bonds fosters physical, emotional and psychological health and is an important component of life. This boosts your mental health by alleviating stress.
- Socializing boosts your confidence and self esteem knowing that you are acceptable.
- It also increases your quality of life
- Being social helps you impact other people’s lives which in turn gives you a sense of purpose.
On the other hand, let’s look at the downsides of being anti-social.
- You lack emotional connection
- Decreases your face to face communication skills
- It makes you hurtful
- Antisocialism diminishes understanding and thoughtfulness
- Facilitates laziness since its hard to find purpose to do things
- Poor self esteem
- Loss of reality
- Decreases the sense of empathy
In conclusion, it is very important to connect with other people. Be it, family or colleagues. We often give up social interaction chasing for money or career and then later reality kicks in and we finally believe that the best things in life come at no cost. One of them is building meaningful relationships and making unforgettable moments. You can only do that by being social. What are you doing to improve your social skills, share with me in the comments below?