I am not a socially graceful person. I’m okay with this, for the most part. I spent a lot of my life trying to be more of a social butterfly – you know, that girl who always says the right, funny thing, who makes everyone feel like her best friend the moment they start talking, and who can flawlessly say “hi” and “goodbye” to everyone without an awkward moment happening. I’m not that girl, and I’ve accepted it. I, however, am the girl who will stand just on the outskirts of a conversation, listening, realizing I want to contribute, waiting for the right moment to contribute, waiting so long that then the topic changes, and I can’t say what I want to say, and then I realize someone has unknowingly inched over slightly so that I am no longer on the outskirts, I’m just “out,” and then I decide I have to pretend to be busy staring at my phone so that I don’t look pathetic, but instead am just a very busy and in-demand person. And no, this did not happen to me the other day at a cool venue in New York City (except it did). I’m socially awkward – there’s no denying it.
Sometimes I act so weird in social interactions that I honestly don’t know if I am a human.
— Jessica Booth (@JBoothyy) June 15, 2016
If that paragraph was very ~relatable~ to you, then you know the pain of trying to socialize without saying something that makes absolutely no sense and that will keep you up all night one night, wondering what is wrong with you. You know the struggle of attempting to come up with something to say when a conversation slows down and neither person is talking, and you both feel weird, and you want to look away or walk away, but that’s rude, so you kind of just stand there hating life. This is when I often default to talking about the weather, which is extremely original and not a cliche at all, or saying something like, “Wow, I am so exhausted.” And, like, sure, I am exhausted, but what a boring thing to talk about.
All of this is to say that I know that I, a functioning adult with an extremely sociable job, could definitely use some hints on how to socialize. This is because I literally have to make connections with people in order to make money, but also because I really want to stop walking away from a first social encounter with my teeth gritted thinking, “Oh my God, what is wrong with me and why do I need a human buffer at all times?” I mean, you get it. So, I have read and re-read this Reddit thread on golden social rules a lot, and I wanted to share the tips with you. Will they make the both of us the confident girl who can say goodbye without accidentally going in to hug someone when they clearly wanted to give you a kiss on the cheek? I mean, maybe not. But they will help us be able to get through a conversation without contemplating the idea of a lobotomy. Good luck out there!
Stop Feeling The Need To Fill In All The SilencesGoingBackToKPax: Don't feel like you have to fill silence, by continuing to ramble. I hate silence in a conversation. It makes me feel uncomfortable and even more awkward and I can't stand it because I don't know what to do with myself. So, when that happens, I usually start to ramble. I'll say something pointless or weird or dumb, and I'll keep going, even though my mind is like, "What are you doOOINNNNGGGG?" I'm rambling to stop the awkwardness, mind! Except, I'm not stopping it, I'm making it worse. Fun example: I went out with a friend and we were talking. When the conversation slowed down, I, for some reason, brought up the gift I gave her at her baby shower (I am old). I found myself talking about how the woman in the store told me it was very popular in France (WHAT) and how people were obsessed with it and it was very exclusive. Okay, cool, COULD I BE MORE INSUFFERABLE? At the moment, I was just trying to fill the silence by talking about something we had in common, but afterwards (by afterwards I mean five seconds later) I realized how snobby and materialistic I was coming off and i was horrified at myself. Just... don't ramble. Source: iStock
Repeat What The Last Person Said In Question Formjjcareer: When someone is talking to you and you want to know more or just keep the conversation going, simply repeat back the last phrase as a question. It makes you look engaged and interested. Ex: "I just got back from vacation to the Poconos." "The Poconos?" "Yeah! It's a mountain range in Pennsylvania, and known for being really gorgeous. We decided to go there because..." The most important rule of any social situation is this one: people love to talk about themselves. They love it! All you have to do is ask questions, listen to them, making engaging facial expressions, and seem interested. But, I know that sometimes it can be hard to ask the right question, especially if your mind is racing because you're nervous. So, try this trick: just repeat back what they said, in question form. Easy peasy! Source: iStock
Act Polite and InterestedLibbyLibbyLibby: People remember how you make them feel. That's part one; most people just LOVE to talk about themselves. That's part two. Use these together and you will make many friends. 🙂 This is very important because it is very true. I can think of plenty of conversations where I believe I have said just the right things - but because of my awkward demeanor and natural Resting Bitch Face, the people I were speaking too left thinking I was a snobby bitch. I am not a snobby bitch! The point is this: I was saying the right things, but my facial expressions and body language weren't matching up, so I was coming off as stiff and fake. Do your best to act interested by making eye contact, smiling, and nodding a lot. Source: iStock
Ask The Same Basic QuestionsBlktoofpirate: When someone ask you how you are or what you've been up to, be sure to ask them the same and listen. Most (rude) people never take the time to return the gesture. Not only does it make you seem more interested, they may have something cool to say. I can't say this enough: ask questions. People love to talk about themselves. That means that if someone says, "How are you?" you say how you are, and then you say, "And how are you?" Don't go off on a long tangent about yourself until the conversation ends and you realized they have said nothing. They'll walk away feeling slightly annoyed that you didn't even have the courtesy to ask about them. Another thing: try to remember something they once told you, and ask them about it. Sometimes I don't do this, because I have this fear that they'll leave and be like, "WTF does Jessica not have a life? Why did she remember that one thing I said that one time? What a CREEPY WEIRDO." Actually, people are more often than not complimented by the fact that you remembered something about them. Source: iStock
Make Eye Contact With Everyonewhenwehit88mph: Acknowledge or make eye contact with everyone in the group. A really easy way to make someone feel small and shitty is to make eye contact with everyone but them when telling a story at a dinner party or equivalent setting. For an awkward person, talking to a group of people can be slightly terrifying. There's so much going on! You have to talk without getting interrupted! Because of this, we often focus on eye contact with just one person, or eye contact with no one. Make sure you make eye contact with everyone. I was recently at a social event talking to a few people I know, but don't know very well. Whenever one girl talked, she looked at everyone except me. It made me feel so awkward and weird and out of place that I eventually walked away and now I hate her. Well, hate is a strong word, but I certainly will never go out of my way to say hello to her. Just make the eye contact, even if it feels weird. It helps. Source: iStock
When In Doubt, Resort To This PhraseWindupbird99: Always respond with "fair enough" when someone says something awkward/you don't know how to respond/you have no idea what they said. You mostly can't go wrong. I can't tell you how many times someone has said something to me that has left me clueless, because I don't agree with them or because I truly have no idea what to say. In these times, just say a simple phrase like "fair enough." Source: iStock
Don't Always Share Your StoryScrappy_Larue: Avoid one-upmanship. If they're talking about their child winning the 6th grade spelling bee, and your child has won 50 spelling bees, save your story for another time. Everyone knows that one-uppers are the worst. The thing is, though, some one-uppers aren't actually trying to beat you, they're just trying to make conversation and that is the only way they know how. I try to be very conscious of my one-upping because I know how much I personally hate it. But sometimes I feel like it happens, even when I don't want it to! It's totally okay to share common stories and interests - that's one way to build bonds - but in some situations, your story isn't needed. Some of these situations include: when someone is telling you something they're very excited about, like being promoted or getting a good grade or something romantic their boyfriend did. This isn't the time to be like, "Oh, you got a 92 on that test? I got a 100! Yay!" Just... say cool. Another one: when someone is really upset, talking about something like their recent breakup or a death in the family. This isn't the best time to be like, "Ugh, well, when my last boyfriend broke up with me, it was even worse..." Just let them be sad. Just listen. They do not care about your problems because they are absorbed in theirs and if you try to make them they are going to get annoyed. Source: iStock
Ask For Their Opinion Or How They Feelpassword_recall: I take the stereotypical therapist approach. When someone recalls an event of the day or something they heard about I ask "and how do you feel about that" or something in that vein. It tends to make them go on about the topic much longer and usually it gives me more to work with in terms of responding, and I have the benefit of people think I'm a kind, empathetic person. Again, people love to talk about themselves, and so asking them questions about themselves will spark a good conversation (on their end, at least). People also love to talk about what they think or feel. Don't literally say, "And how did that make you feel?" every single time, because that will be weird. But find a way to say something like, "Did you like it?" or "What did you think about it?" or "Did that make you sad?" They'll leave thinking, "Wow, that person is so thoughtful and such a great listener." Not in those words, but you know what I mean. Source: iStock
Don't Correct People Too MuchGoingBackToKPax: Don't always correct people, even though you know they are stupid. It's just going to cause an argument. Know you are right and let them continue on about their horoscope, God, ghosts, cleanse, "sweating out toxins", how well their homeopathy is going, or any other equally impossible crap. To say it another way, don't be a know it all. There are certain times when a correction might be necessary, but try not to always do it, especially if you're just meeting the person. It's awkward! It makes people feel weirdly defensive and insulted. Avoid it at all costs. Source: iStock
Stay Away From The PhoneJezzaN1: Spend as little time on your phone as possible, it just comes off as rude and disrespectful if you're more interested in scrolling through facebook than what the people you're interacting with have to say. I know how tempting it can be to look at your phone, whether you're getting a text or there's a lull in the convo and you don't know what to do. But please try not to. Staring at your phone, even just for a minute, is very rude. If you get a text or email you have to look at, just say something like, "OMG sorry, I just have to check this because it might be important." Don't just keep glancing at your phone thinking they won't notice. Source: iStock
Are you an awkward person? What are your socializing tips? Let me know in the comments.