I’ll be real with you guys: I am, in general, a pretty awkward person, but this is especially true in social situations. A fun form of entertainment for people who enjoy pain is to put me in a crowded room of strangers and watch how I react. Although I can think of wonderful things to say in my head, I can never manage to say them out loud. I fill silence with phrases that either don’t make sense or aren’t interesting. I have trouble connecting with people in the beginning, although if you give me some time, I adjust. I am not good at job interviews, being the center of attention, or making friends. I joke about it a lot as a defense strategy, and to be honest it’s not the end of the world, but it does bum me out from time to time.
Being socially awkward is tough, and unfortunately often makes life more difficult. Interacting with others and forming emotional connections is a part of growing up, and often a necessary means of being successful, but it doesn’t come easy to all of us. So how are you supposed to *make it* in life if you don’t even know how to initiate a conversation? For starters, check out these conversation secrets that every socially awkward person needs to hear. They’re taken from an Ask Reddit thread, which means they must be legit (but, in all seriousness, they seem pretty helpful). Check ’em out, and start being less awkward… maybe.
1. Stop pointing out how awkward you are.
A lot of awkward people (myself included) like to tell people how awkward they are because they think the self-awareness makes things better. Sometimes it doesn’t. As user Calyxo says, “Mentioning in any way your awkwardness or shyness in a social setting is a mistake. Be awkward, don’t talk about it. People forgive awkwardness, but not self-pity.”
2. Act interested in everyone else instead of trying to be interesting.
Remember that people love to talk about themselves. Trying too hard to be “cool” and interesting will make things worse – acting interested in what someone is saying is a better choice. As Vikingsail says, “Ask questions and be genuine in your inquires. Chances are you’ll find some common ground that you both can latch on to.”
3. Remember that in the end, no one cares that much.
Seriously, no one else cares about what you’re doing as much as you do. As user BlatantConservative says, “Nobody cares if you stutter (I have a stuttering problem sometimes, so I know) nobody cares if you make one or two faux passes. Nobody cares if you have a zit in your nose, nobody cares if youre slightly unshaven one day. Now if its a constant thing, its a problem. If you constantly stutter and become afraid to speak because of it its a problem. If you’re contstantly offending people or constantly look unclean, thats an issue with people.”
4. Smile and practice smiling so it looks natural.
Smiling is always important. And, as user gold_fanger says, “Also, practice smiling so it looks natural in the mirror. Not everyone looks good with a big broad smile sometimes a half cocked smile is more than enough, especially if your dental game isn’t on point.”
5. Avoid a few things.
There are some things that you should generally avoid. Demaskee says: 1) Don’t bring up topics that are not appropriate for the occasion. We don’t want to hear about your excessive earwax problem at a party. 2) Don’t divulge really personal information to people you just met. Telling them about a suicide attempt you made when you were a teenager is a sure way to scare them off. 3) When a group of people are happily engaged in a conversation, don’t try and alter the topic. Some people can do this successfully, but not you. 4) Don’t be a Debbie downer. Your contributions to conversation should be focused on keeping the mood up. 5) Don’t use catch-phrases long dead. (anything from Napoleon Dynamite, Borat, etc…) 6) Don’t be afraid to fib, or at least not tell the full truth. It’s ok to say your having a nice time, they don’t need to hear you’re upset because they ran out of the shrimp before you got to have some.”
6. Look out for hints that the conversation is over.
One thing that a lot of awkward people have in common is that they don’t know when to end the conversation before things get weird. Learn how to look for hints. Demaskee says,” Take the hint. Is the person avoiding eye contact, giving short answers, looking around the room? Was there a group of people at the start that has now dwindled down to just the one you’re talking with? If so, you probably screwed up somewhere. Take a bathroom break and let them escape gracefully.”
7. Don’t try to be something you’re not.
If you’re awkward, you probably spend a lot of time wishing you were one of those effortlessly funny people (same). But there’s no need to fake it – that just makes you more awkward. Like TwerkinDolphin says, “Don’t try to act funny or try to say something witty if you can’t.” Just be yourself.
8. Put yourself in social situations to practice.
Sometimes you have to force yourself into social situations – avoiding them only makes things worse. Like Consulting16 says, “Social skills are like anything – practice makes perfect. Just going out and meeting new people will help your social skills infinitely more than reading a bunch of books on socializing or websites.”
9. Talk about the things you know about.
If you don’t know what to say, just stick to what you know. PM_ME_BAY_AREA_GIRLS says, “Just talk about what you know about. If you don’t know about something keep your mouth shut or ask questions about the other people (they’ll typically be happy to tell you). If there are 5 people in the social setting you should be doing about 1/5 of the talking (not dramatically more or less).”
10. Pay attention to people’s body language.
Body language is an important part of being awkward or not awkward. To keep it simple, try what agentdarko says: “Mirror people’s body language.”
11. Don’t always think of silence as a bad thing.
I know that I get nervous when things get quiet and try to fill the silence by saying things that don’t need to be said. As longhornpianist says, “Silence is a part of conversation. Let it happen and don’t comment on it.”
12. Remember that other people might be nervous too.
You’re not the only socially awkward person out there! Like fyur_ah_lease says, “This sounds a little weird, but just remember that everyone else is a person too. Everyone has their own insecurities, their own life experiences, and their own personalities. Even more importantly, remember that no matter how hard you try, you can’t please everyone. There are always going to be people that just don’t like you for whatever reason. And that’s okay.”
13. Stop overthinking things.
A lot of being awkward has to do with overthinking literally everything. Try not to stress about mistakes. Like iaminahurry says, “Humans are not perfect (not even close). Mistaking is when you try to get something but you don’t know yet how to do it. You only learn by tentatives. A lot of them. Everyone has to mistake, else you would be omniscent. Some stuff is easy for you, some for me, but you can get it, it’s yours if you want.”
14. Know how to laugh at yourself.
At the end of the day, you have to stop taking everything so seriously. StripMallDojo says, “Be able to laugh at yourself. I say awkward shit every once in a while, where people give me a weird look, I just laugh at myself and forget about it. Have a short memory about those moments. No one will remember it in an hour.”
15. Work in a social setting.
Getting a job where you’re forced to make social interactions can be beneficial. I know that, personally, my years as a waitress really helped me learn how to have a conversation. idonotlosepws says, “Get a job at a retail store, it’ll force you to fake being social and teach you how to hate people in secret.”
16. Stop planning ahead so much.
A lot of awkward people like to plan what they’re going to say to try to minimize the awkwardness, which often makes things worse. Yodan says, “The key to confidence is to pretend you’ve done whatever situation you’re in before and roll with the moment instead of analyzing it. Don’t plan conversations, don’t hesitate to do, just be “ok I’ve got this” when you need to. Also learn when not to talk vs ranting by accident.”
17. Keep some key topics in your mind.
But you can still keep some ideas in the back of your head! gotsanity says, “Five topics that can start a conversation with damn near anyone. Food, fun, friends, family, favorites. Family is the only one to be cautious about.”
18. Just embrace it.
Listen, being awkward really isn’t that bad in the grand scheme of things. You can always choose to say eff it, and just be awkward! Like something_secret says, “Be as weird as you need to be. The world needs you.”
Which of these tips did you find the most helpful? What did we forget? Let us know in the comments.