If you don’t want to end up a lonely old hermit, you need to learn how to be more social and practice what you learn for as long as you live. When you start to retreat into your home and close others out, it becomes habitual. Your comfort zone with other people starts to decrease, and you would rather spend time with your cat than you would with people who you can share experiences with. And, that’s not the biggest problem!
You will get lonely, and when that happens, your health and happiness will suffer. But by the point of loneliness, your social skills will be nearly gone, so going out and being social will feel awkward and scary – and it will be very hard to push yourself to do it. That’s when stress, negative thoughts, beating yourself up, and more loneliness starts to creep into your life. It’s a negative cycle that will be very hard to escape after a certain point.
So, want to learn how to be more social so that you can fill your life up with as many people as you want? Want to improve your social skills so you can pick up that guy or girl that you’ve had your eye on? This article will help you do it. Following are 9 steps on how to be more social that everyone will benefit from.
Step 1: Don’t Turn To Social Media
Being on social media for part of your time is OK. It helps you connect to the world around and even meet people who live close to you. But, you have to get off social media and out into the real world if you really want to be more social in a way that benefits you.
I can speak from experience! Social media offers you a false sense of being social that makes you completely awkward out in real life situations. You may be the best tweeter, facebooker, or instagramer, but when you have to actually talk to people in the real world, it’s a whole different ballgame.
Moreover, social media relationships do not offer the type of connection that offline relationships offer. You can’t touch each other. You can’t get out and experience things together. Being social is about getting together and enjoying each other’s company and really feeling like part of a group. You can’t get a real sense of someone unless you meet them face-to-face, shake their hand, and get into their energy space.
Step 2: Get The Desire To Be More Social
You have to be motivated if you want to do it. Being more social requires you to step out of your comfort zone, and a strong desire is going to help you do that. Therefore, list off the things that being more social will help you get, such as:
– A boyfriend/girlfriend
– A sense of belonging
– People who you can share your life with (both the good and the bad parts)
– People who you can learn from and teach
– More adventure in your life
– Better health
– More support when you need it
– More confidence
– More happiness!
Whatever you think you will gain by being more social, write it down, get excited about it, and move on to the next step.
Step 3: Think The Best Of People
Part of what makes us want to retreat into our shells away from others is because we think the worst of them. We think they are out to get us, hurt us, use us, or even abuse us. We also think that they instantly don’t like us for whatever reason. And, when we feel like that, we take every look, word, and behavior to heart as something that is bad.
For example, I recently saw someone react horribly to a comment that wasn’t even that negative. It was actually kind of a complement, but she didn’t see it that way. She posted another post addressing the one comment, but making it sound like everyone had attacked her about the post, which simply wasn’t true. In fact, there were hundreds of comments and not one person had attacked her! She was obviously thinking the worst of everyone, and if she had just chose to see the best, she would have had a much different reaction.
The truth is that people want to like you. They go into meeting you with the expectation of liking you. They want to interact with you in a positive way, and they don’t go out looking for fights.
Now, if you go into a grocery store, you may beg to differ. Mean, grumpy, and rude people have to shop, so you will meet a lot of negative people in the store that make you want to get back to your home and never come out again. But, when you recognize that they only make up a small portion of the world, you will be more likely to move on to the next step.
Step 4: Go Where Happy People Go To Get Social
Don’t expect to make friends at places where negative people are in abundance. It can happen, but chances are your joke about the cucumber in a grocery store will not be received well like it is in the movies. You have to get out to places where you can actually get social with people who want to be social.
As a caveat, you can get social with people at work. It doesn’t seem like a place where you can get social, but it is. It’s a place where friendships are often formed and romantic relationships are definitely formed. But, not everyone works out of the home anymore, and some people end up working in jobs that don’t require a lot of interaction.
So where else can you go?
– Community classes that interest you. You will find yourself in conversations about the class and homework and, eventually, personal things too.
– Volunteer events in your area. Soup kitchens and food banks give you a chance to give back and connect to good people who are already reaching out to their community and being social.
– A meet up in your area via sites like meetup.com. Enter in your area and you will find a lot of different groups that you can become a part of and meet up the next time a meet up is planned.
Or, just get out and walk outside. Think about how many people don’t go out of their home. If they did, the sidewalks would be full of people, but that only seems to happen on special events. When you get out of the house, chances are you will see your neighbors or run into other people who want to chat. I find that people who walk are in a group of their own. They are out and about and don’t mind stopping for a chat about the weather and what’s going on around them.
Step 5: Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable
Being social puts you at risk for saying stupid things and doing stupid things, and it takes you out of your comfort zone when you go to places you are not familiar with and do things that you are not comfortable doing. Therefore, you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable because you will feel it from time to time.
I think that one of the best things you can do for yourself is to be easy on yourself. Don’t get upset with yourself. Don’t blame yourself for anything. Be your best friend and try not to get worked up about how you think, feel, or behave when you are being social.
For instance, if you start to tell yourself how bad you are darts when a group of people want to go out and play some darts, you will find yourself feeling anxiety over it, which may cause you to say no and run home. Instead, tell yourself that you can give it a shot and if you suck, oh well – at least you tried.
The good news is that the more you allow yourself to be uncomfortable, the easier it will become to put yourself out there. And, you will find yourself being less and less uncomfortable as you go along.
Step 6: Pay Attention To Others
You may be learning how to be more social for your benefit, but part of being socially accepted is by paying attention to others, not yourself. If you are willing to pay attention to other people by making eye contact when they speak, listening to what they are saying, engaging in conversation with them about their concerns or viewpoints, and validating them as being funny or kind by laughing or smiling, you are going to nail being socially accepted, which will allow you to be more social!
Doing this requires you to step out of your ego and think about others. That can be hard for someone who isn’t that social and focuses mostly on their own life, needs, wants, etc. But, once you put forward the effort, it will become super easy to see past yourself and be compassionate and thoughtful towards others.
Step 7: Tell Stories
The best way to connect with other people is through stories of your life. I know you got them! We all do! The best stories give them insight into who you are and what you stand for. For instance, telling someone about an embarrassing moment in your life shows that you can laugh at yourself and you don’t take things to seriously.
But, don’t go overboard with the stories. Keep some mystery around yourself and you will keep people interested in you.
In addition, if you start to tell too many stories about yourself, people will see you as egocentric, even if your intentions are good. I know one woman who loves to share her stories. She can remember everything back to childhood! Unfortunately, she talks too much. Every time someone brings up anything, she has a story to go along with it, and she comes across as very focused on herself and how she presents herself to other people rather than open and sharing. And, no one can get a word in edgewise around her!
Step 8: Stay Attractive!
No, I don’t mean get Botox and liposuction. I mean stay attractive as a person that others want to be social with. If you start doing ugly things that push people away, then word will get out about you and you will start to limit your possibilities for becoming social. We have all heard about that person who people dread seeing, and you don’t want to become that person!
How can you avoid it?
– Don’t be in constant competition: You don’t need to be better than everyone else. Being social is about having fun and enjoying everyone for who they are. If you are someone who has to show them up every time they do something, you are going to alienate a lot of people from your life.
– Don’t gossip: I have a neighbor who would talk bad about another neighbor to me and then talk bad about me to that neighbor! When we found out, neither one of us respected her anymore, and I haven’t talked to her for years since then. In fact, nobody in our area talks to her anymore.
– Be emotionally intelligent: The ability to recognize how other people are feeling around you will help you gauge how you should act and what you should say to make the other person feel good. In addition, being emotionally intelligent allows you to recognize when you have hurt someone’s feelings or you are stepping on someone’s toes and gives you the opportunity to apologize, which will go a long way towards keeping them in your life.
– Be honest and be yourself. If you lie, you are going to get busted eventually. Moreover, many people are very good at reading the cues of a liar and will become suspicious of you without even finding out that you lied. Nobody wants to hang around someone they don’t trust, so just be honest with who you are and what you feel, and if you don’t feel like laying it all out, let them know that instead of lying.
Step 9: Enjoy Other People’s Company
The last step on how to be more social is to look forward to getting together with others and enjoy their company while you are with them. Literally soak in the awesomeness that comes from being around others. Enjoy learning about how others act and think. Enjoy their uniqueness and what they bring to the table. If you do that, then being social will be a requirement in your life because you will feel alive while you are with others and refreshed after you leave them.