Small talk, ice breakers, sweaty palms, awkward silence … let’s face it: social interactions aren’t always easy to navigate. Even reading the title of this post might have been enough to make you want to crawl under a blanket for a few hours.
If socializing isn’t exactly your idea of “fun,” you’re not alone. But the reality is that connecting with other people is critical to our health and wellbeing (read up on the science behind it here). Not to mention, if you’re in the business of dealing with people, the ability to socialize is essential to your success. So, before you start brainstorming excuses to get out of an upcoming event (e.g., “Sorry, I can’t come. My cat fell asleep on my keys …”), hear us out. We’ve got three tips to help you feel confident in any social setting—and maybe even have a little fun while you’re at it!
Start with your mindset.
Socializing starts internally. After all, it’s hard to be confident if you’re constantly telling yourself that you’re too awkward, too shy, too much, or too boring, right? Here’s the good news: You are in charge of your mindset. When you start to feel that pre-social event negativity creeping in, combat it by repeating positive mantras like these:
- I enjoy learning about new people.
- I’m interesting and fun to be around.
- I have valuable ideas to share with others.
- I don’t have to be anything other than my authentic self.
Get in the habit of saying, "yes."
You’ll never improve your social skills if you don’t get out there and … well, socialize. That’s why this next step is essential: Start saying “yes” to things you would normally turn down. Accept the invite to dinner with colleagues or agree to going to coffee with a new friend (or even make the first move yourself!). While these environments may not feel the most comfortable, they’re situations that will help you grow the most.
If you’re looking for a new way to put yourself out there, try picking up a social hobby. It’s amazing how easy it is to establish natural connections when you’re bonding with people over a shared interest. That’s why some of the best connections are built in yoga studios, book clubs, and cooking classes. You already know you share a hobby, and that lays the groundwork for finding out what else you have in common. Pick a few social hobby ideas from this list that spark your interest and go try them out!
Remember that people are just ... people.
Other people are just as critical of themselves as you are of yourself. In fact, in his book, How to Win Friends & Influence People, Dale Carnegie estimates that we spend about 95% of our time thinking about ourselves. So, while you’re worrying about how someone interpreted a comment you made an hour ago, they’re probably agonizing over something they said.
Keep this one in mind because it’s important: We’re all human. We all have that awkward conversation from that one time in high school that us up at night. And we all just want to feel connected, validated, and understood. Even the most confident leaders and speakers are, at their core, just like you and me.
Let's get social.
You’ve read our tips, you’re feeling inspired, and you’re ready to get out there and strike up a conversation. Woohoo, we’re rooting for you! Here are our favorite conversation starters to help you kick off your social interactions with confidence:
- Have you listened to any good podcasts lately?
- I love your shirt! Where did you get it?
- Have you done anything exciting lately?
- What was the highlight of your week?
- Do you have any fun plans for the weekend?
- Where did you grow up?
We wish we could tell you that by reading this post, you’ll magically transform into a social butterfly overnight. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work like that. This is one life skill that takes time, trial and error, and a commitment to leaning into those usually uncomfortable situations. If you stick with it, you’ll soon start to notice yourself not only surviving but thriving in any social setting.