Your friend calls and asks you to go out, your first thought is, sure sounds like fun.
Then two seconds later you start to think how you really would rather relax and not socialize … and well, you know the drill.
I do this all the time, I talk myself out of going out. I actually enjoy socializing but always rationalize that I would rather catch up on some work. In actuality, this is true, but I can see how I use this as an excuse.
Many people are not sure how to socialize so lets look at some of those reasons and how to get past them.
You would rather read a book or watch Netflix..
This is just slightly relatable (very sarcastic). Even when I am working on the computer, I have Netflix on in the background. Not very productive, I know but enjoyable.
I just binge watched the Extras, an older sitcom with Ricky Gervais…yeah it’s good! I figure since I wrote for an hour, we will just call that a productive evening, right?
Maybe you are an introvert or maybe you just like to chill, either way there needs to be a balance between staying in and enjoying the company and energy of others.
Why we need to socialize
Maybe you are in college and you are aware that the contacts you make now may help you throughout your career. Networking is important throughout our lives. So this reason alone should get you moving.
We also want close friends to be there for the milestones in our lives. Often friendships last longer than romantic relationships for a variety of reasons making them worth the effort to nurture to stay strong.
Even when we are parents and our only socialization is at a class party or sporting event, we still need those close connections. Having people outside our family to lean on is as important for us as it is for our friends. We cannot just show up when it suits us, they may not be there anymore.
As you get older your need for a social connections is so important and THE reason for a long life according to the longest Harvard happiness study.
Yes, it is the key to a long life, so take the time to socialize your life literally depends upon it!
Sometimes we also get into a rut with our partners, changing the scenery and doing activities reminds us what we love about them and can spark romance. It can be lots of fun to socialize with other couples, we just need to make a date to do so.
How to be Social
Whether you hang out at home or are an introvert and truly get anxious with the thought of going out, it is still an essential part of life. We need to find a balance between staying in and being social.
It can become a problem if you always make excuses not to go out. Sometimes you just have to get your butt up and get going. Here are some common reasons why you may not want to socialize and proven ways to get over them.
First, one of the quickest ways to get into the mood to go out is to get moving & play some of your favorite music. This can quickly snap you out of your mood. Anything that gets you going and gives you energy will help.. but for me, music is the best!
Take baby steps to broaden your social circle. There are so many different ways to practice socializing. Try talking to your barista, Uber driver or a store clerk to start.
Find simple reasons to connect. Asking the time or where the closest gas station is, is an easy way to practice talking to strangers.
Feeling socially awkward?
Many people are very nervous being around others in a social situation. The best thing to do is to listen when you are anxious being around others. Unless you are comfortable with knowing what is appropriate, keep jokes to a minimum. Try these simple steps..
- Listen First
- Mention a similar experience that you have experienced.
- Ask a follow up question pertaining to what is being talked about.
- Listen again and repeat
The more that you practice and refine your interactions, the more confident you will become when socializing. When you are pleasant and smile people will be naturally drawn to you and with a little time, your feelings of anxiousness will subside.
Being socially awkward is not a life sentence.
In more extreme circumstances you could possibly have Social Anxiety Disorder, if you believe that this is the case, visit this link to find out more.
You can change how you socialize by following these tips. Being more social will help you succeed in your career and your relationships.
Not sure how to start conversations..
I know all of us would like to have an outgoing personality but many of us do not, this doesn’t mean it has to affect our interactions.
Starting conversations can be learned with some easy tips and tricks. First it will depend upon the situation. Obviously a networking situation will be different that trying to get a date. But the truth is that there are many similarities.
Start with an icebreaker, which should be a genuine compliment a question or advice.
These are easy ways that work in most situations.
1. For example, you may be at a party and want to speak to a specific person. Pay attention, is there something that you could compliment them on? A unique piece of clothing or maybe a reason that you noticed them, such as “You seem to be having such a good time.” Use something that is appropriate. Oh and smile!
2. Asking advice is a great way to make someone feel important. Most people love to help others and to talk about themselves, so let them as you listen intently.
3. Asking questions is another surefire way to start and move a conversation forward. How do you know (the host)? Have you tried the dip? it’s amazing!
You get the idea, each way is simple and gets the ball rolling.
It’s usually boring
Small talk can make socializing a bit boring. That’s why you have to be creative and make it interesting. So what are some ways to re-frame this problem?
I had just recently finished an article on personality types which is insightful into our own personal quirks.
For me that meant that I would rather find out interesting things about people, so I found a way to make that easier. I tell them that I am researching a subject or writing an article and ask what they are passionate about. Asking them about a favorite place where they have travelled works well also.
This usually makes the conversations much more interesting and animated. It is a very fast way to make a connection or bond. Also you will become memorable in a positive way, because you showed genuine interest in them.
People LOVE to talk about themselves, so allow them to and just listen!
Social Media and Socializing
Many studies have shown how social media portrays perfect lives that are unrealistic. Many take loads of photos to find the perfect one, or only post the good stuff, making their lives look fabulous.
It’s the ultimate “keeping up with the Joneses.” We can’t live up to a life that is “created’ to look perfect. Social media has a way of making us think that we have closer friendships than what we truly have. It can also make us feel inadequate or left behind.
The reality is that having many “friends” on social media does not translate into actual socializing. Actually social media can be very isolating, to really socialize means to have interactions face to face.
Face to face vs social media
This video shows how your cell phone hurts your work and personal relationships. The video explains specifically how relationships happen in the “random, in between times of life.”
So if you are constantly on your phone, new relationships can not start or grow and the ones we have feel unimportant.
When we are interacting in face-to-face communication, information is conveyed by tone and body language that adds context to the situation.
Being able to react to emotional cues is essential for personal, social and career success. (Knapp & Hall, 2010)
Set a date for being social
Make a date. Take out your calendar and plan it! It’s a proven productivity trick, to remove the friction.
Every week try to plan something that is social. Check your local Meetup for activities near you.You should be able to find hiking, book clubs and lots of fun ideas.
Local magazines usually have a monthly calendar of events including festivals, restaurant tastings, yoga classes etc. Visit Eventbrite and browse events close to you.
The best way to learn how to socialize is to figure out what your pain points are and take small steps to change them.
Give socializing the attention it deserves since It affects all aspects of our lives, whether for our careers, health or romantic relationships.
Keep it light, and Smile!