Do parties make you nervous? Are you afraid about saying the wrong thing? Do you want to connect with people, but feel like something is in the way? Feeling socially awkward from time to time is normal.
Everyone has experiences where they say the wrong thing or accidentally make a fool of themselves. This is a part of being human. But, if you feel socially awkward on a regularly basis and think it is affecting your social life, then you may need to step back and makes some changes.
Everyone has some socially awkward tendencies. If you feel like you have more than average, then there are some strategies and tips to help you smooth out the problem areas.
But, one of the best ways to process your experience is with a trained counselor, who can help you explore the root of your insecurities and social anxieties. If seeing a counselor seems like too big of a step for you, then here are some ideas to help you avoid socially awkward situations.
Tips to Avoid Being Socially Awkward
1. Ask Questions
In social situations, one of the most dangerous places is when you are talking. Many people assume if you are talking then you must be doing well, but this isn’t always the case. Talking too much can make you seem arrogant or rude. A safe way to avoid falling into this trap is by asking questions.
This strategy kills two birds with one stone. First, it keeps you out of the hot zone, while still staying engaged with those around you. Second, people love talking about themselves. If you ask someone a question, they will be more than happy to answer and probably even like you a little bit more because you care about them
Like anything, if you take this to an extreme it can get you into trouble. Nobody wants to be interrogated about their life. But a few well-placed, genuine questions can do miracles for you if you feel uncomfortable. It will get other people talking and take the pressure off you.
2. Don’t Always Talk About YourselfBy all means, if someone asks you about what you do or what you did last weekend, go ahead an answer. But if you find yourself interjecting facts about yourself or things you want to talk about into the discussion, then it can make you appear odd or even rude.
Try to follow the flow of the conversation. Don’t try to forcefully change it. It’s better to engage the topics that naturally come up. If there’s a lull in the conversation, you can definitely throw something new out there, but don’t feel like you need to be talking about yourself or what you like, otherwise you may find that you are talking to yourself!
3. Get Out of Your Head
If you feel socially awkward, it can be really easy to get in your head. Every time you walk into a meeting or a party, you might feel dread or nervous butterflies. While these feelings are good warning signs and can help to keep you cautious and thoughtful, if they begin to dominate you, then they will become a problem.
Being constantly preoccupied with what other people think of you can actually make you paranoid, and paranoid people never come across as normal. The paranoia can make you stand out and be socially awkward. If you live into paranoia, trying to avoid socially awkward interactions, then your life might become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
For this reason, you need to get out of your head. Let go and remember you are trying your best. You are more than likely being harder on yourself than other people would be, so one key to getting beyond social awkwardness is getting out of your head.
4. Silence is OkaySome people think silence is socially awkward. And sure, if you are asked a question and can’t answer because you get too nervous, then, yes, that can be socially awkward. But listening silently does not equal socially awkwardness.
Learning to silently listen or to take a pause before answering can be very, very helpful. If you think silence is the enemy, then you will likely be tempted to live in a manic attempt to keep the conversation alive at every turn, which often makes you come across as intense, needy, and awkward.
5. Stay on Safe Topics
As a general rule of thumb, you should avoid talking about politics, religion, and finances with people you don’t know well. It may also be good to avoid asking questions about relationships until you learn a little bit more about the person as well. These topics can be polarizing or make people uncomfortable.
If your goal is smooth sailing, then it’s going to be best to stay out of these waters. Instead focus on things like work, passions, and hobbies. Ask people what they care about. What do they do for work? How do they spend their time?
These are safer conversations which can stir up meaningful conversation and even bond you together through shared interests. These are the safest waters for you to stay in while you are talking with friends and acquaintances you don’t know well.
6. Notice What MattersWhile you shouldn’t be paranoid, like discussed above, it can be helpful to watch for certain social cues. For example, if someone starts to face away from you while talking or takes a step back, this can be a sign they are trying to disengage. Or if someone starts to look at the clock or make comments about the time, they might be trying to leave.
Be on the lookout for social cues like this and when you see them, let the person go. No one wants to feel trapped in a conversation. Learning to recognize when someone is trying to disengage is key.
It’s also important to recognize when someone wants to engage you. If they seek you out, call you by name, or ask you questions, these are all signs that somebody is trying to get your attention. When this happens, don’t let your self-consciousness hold you back. Talk to them and be yourself.
7. Be Confident
Finally, this is at once the simplest and most difficult piece of advice. When it comes to social interactions being confident is key. Even when you blunder or say the wrong thing, if you are confident and real, then you will be okay. It’s fine to own a mistake and apologize or to realize you are talking too much and be quiet.
If you are confident, you will feel more at ease, thus making yourself more comfortable and approachable. But growing self-confidence takes place outside of social situations. Growing in confidence requires you to personally develop.
It might require counseling, open conversations with close friends, or learning a new skill so you feel capable. Try to find some of the main things that make you feel insecure and deal with them. This will help you to feel more confident in all areas of life.
Christian Counseling for the Socially Awkward
At the end of the day, no one wants to feel like the odd one out, constantly trying to not say the wrong thing and just fit in. One of the hardest parts of this experience is the isolation. It’s easy to feel trapped and like you have no one else to talk to. This is when a counselor can be really helpful.
Professionally trained counselors are people willing to listen to your experience, help you sort out the details, and empower you to grow. Meeting with a counselor will give you safe space to process your experiences and get a safe, unbiased sounding board for your experience. If you want to move past social awkwardness and anxiety, then reach out to a counselor today!
“Friends”, Courtesy of Helena Lopes, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Outing”, Courtesy of Priscilla Du Preez, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Standing Around”, Courtesy of Luke Porter, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Dinner Out”, Courtesy of Kevin Curtis, Unsplash.com, CC0 License