Be Social

Being social can help you build meaningful connections, come out of your shell, and feel less isolated. You don't even have to be a social butterfly in order to talk to people. All you need is good instincts, confidence, and some basic conversational skills. Once you're comfortable talking to people, you can work on making plans with them and spending more time socializing. If you want to know how to be social, see Step 1 to be on your way.


Have approachable body language.

  1. When you look more approachable, people will be more likely to talk to you. One simple way to be more social is to look more approachable to the people you might interact with. If you stand with an open posture, keep your hands at your sides instead of folded across your chest, and make eye contact with people when they talk to you, then you’ll be much more approachable than if you were hunched over, totally absorbed in your cell phone, or fidgeting with the bottom of your sweater. If you have a positive look on your face and a friendly demeanor, then people will be much more likely to think you want to talk to them.
    • You may have closed-off body language without even knowing it. If you’re shy, then it’s natural for you to retreat into your shell as a way of warding people off. Work on opening up your body little by little, facing people instead of turning away from them, and looking like you want people to talk to you instead of like you want to be left alone.
    • Just making an effort of smiling more can have a huge impact. If people see you as friendly, they’ll be much more likely to ask you questions or to strike up a conversation with you.[1]

Make small talk.

  1. As the saying goes, there’s nothing small about small talk. You may feel like you’re allergic to talking to people about the weather or the local sports team, but this is the way you can begin to develop a more serious bond and to get to know people on a deeper level. While you may want to jump right into a discussion of whether or not there’s a God or about your complicated relationship with your mother, you’ll need to be able to make more superficial conversation with people before you can get to a deeper level. Don’t think that you’re above small talk or that you have no time for it; instead, think of it as a way of moving towards truly getting to know people.[2] Here are some pointers for making small talk:
    • Okay, so maybe talking about the weather isn’t the most exciting thing in the world. But you can use the weather to talk about more interesting topics. For example, if someone complains about how the rain has kept them cooped up all weekend, you can ask if they had time to watch something good on TV; use it as an excuse to bring up your favorite movie or TV show.
    • If a person is wearing an unusual piece of jewelry, you can compliment it and see if there’s a story behind it. Maybe it’ll lead into a discussion of how that person’s grandmother gave it to them, or of how that person got her Murano glass necklace in Italy, which is a place where you’ve been dying to go.
    • When you make small talk, avoid asking yes or no questions that can cut a conversation short. Instead, ask questions that require a longer answer. Instead of asking, “Did you do anything fun this weekend?” you can ask, “What did you do over the weekend?” so the person has more room to talk.
    • Avoid asking overly personal questions at first. Stick to the easy topics, such as hobbies, sports, bands, or pets, and wait for the person to open up a bit.

Show interest in other people’s lives.

  1. When you listen to other people, they’ll feel valued and want to spend time with you. People are much more likely to want to socialize with people who are interested in them, instead of people who are just interesting in general. While you can certainly reveal information about yourself, one way to socialize more is to show a real interest in people by asking them questions and showing that you care about their lives. Here are some things you can ask them about:
    • Their favorite bands, sports teams, movies, or TV shows
    • Their hobbies or interests outside of work or school
    • Favorite places that they’ve traveled
    • If they have any pets
    • How they like the place where they live
    • How their interview/basketball game/weekend trip was
    • Their plans for the weekend, the summer, or the holiday break

Embrace new people.

  1. Assume most people have good intentions. People who have trouble being social are usually afraid, distrustful, or just skeptical about new people. They may think that new people have nothing to offer them and that they are better off sticking to the familiar. Well, you should think that, to new people, you are certainly worth getting to know – and that you’re a new person to somebody. Instead of being skeptical of new people until they prove themselves to you, try to give them the benefit of the doubt. If you approach new people as potential friends instead of potential enemies, you’ll be on your way to being much more social.
    • If you’re standing around in a group and see someone you don’t know, introduce yourself instead of awkwardly smiling at or looking away from that person. Everyone will be impressed by your initiative.
    • If you see a new person who doesn’t know anyone, go out of your way to make that person feel comfortable. This is a basic kindness that won’t go unnoticed.

Learn to read people.

  1. Understanding people will help you feel more at ease in social settings. Another way to be social when you talk to people is to learn to read them, even when they are saying the opposite of how they feel. You should become a master at decoding body language, and should be able to tell how a person is feeling just from how that person is standing or by the look on his face when he’s not talking. If someone is telling you that he’s doing fine, but you can see that his eyes are puffy or that his clothes look a bit disheveled, then you may find that he actually needs a helping hand.
    • To make conversation with people, you should go beyond the surface and try to see what the person is really trying to tell you. If you’re in a group and one person is trying to back away or looking around, then he may be bored and uncomfortable and may need some help.
    • If you’re talking to someone who keeps checking the time, or shifting from foot to foot, then that person may be late or anxious; it’s okay to say that you see that the person has a lot going on and that you look forward to chatting later.

Reach out to your current acquaintances.

  1. Your life is already full of potential amazing friends. You may think that you have trouble being social because you don’t know a single person worth socializing with or that there’s no one around who would want to hang out with you. That’s where you’re wrong! You may not realize that the girl who sits behind you in math, the guy on your swim team, or even your neighbor, could end up being one of your best friends. Seek out people you know a little bit and ask them to grab a coffee or to hang out in a low-key setting. You’ll soon be on your way to making new friends.
    • Don’t be shy. Asking someone to hang out in a low-pressure way, such as grabbing coffee or going to an interesting lecture or movie together, isn’t a big deal. You’re not inviting someone to prom or asking them to marry you. It’s just asking for a bit of time.
    • Think about it: is there someone in your life who seems cool, and who you’re always wishing you knew a little better? What’s the worst that can happen when you approach that person?

Find new hobbies or interests.

  1. You can meet new people by jumping into a new hobby. This can be in your school, at work, or in your community. You can take a yoga class and befriend the person on the mat next to yours. You can join a rec volleyball team and make friends with the people on your team. You can take an art class and find a few people who share your interests. The more you put yourself out there, the more likely you are to connect with people who interest you.
    • If you spend more time doing something you care about, you are also more likely to make friends with the people around you because they’ll share your interests. Even if you’re just developing a passion for a new hobby, you may find someone who shares that common bond.
    • Finding new hobbies or interests will also help you become more social simply because you’ll get in the habit of stepping out of your comfort zone and putting yourself out there more, which is exactly what you need to do to be social.

Offer more invitations.

  1. People who are social are always inviting people to hang out with them. You don’t have to throw a huge party to extend more invitations to people. Don’t be shy about asking people to hang out with you and work on thinking of something you could ask people to do with you. Just smile, extend the invitation, and make it clear that it’s no big deal if the person is too busy to hang out. Here are some ways you can extend invitations for people to hang out with you:
    • Ask someone in your class to be part of a study group with you
    • Invite someone you know to do some work in a coffee shop with you
    • If someone you know shares your love for a certain band or actress, invite that person to a concert or a movie
    • Ask a coworker to step out for lunch or coffee with you
    • Organize a happy hour at work
    • Invite a few people over to watch a popular TV show, such as Orange is the New Black, and order some pizza
    • Organize an informal softball, basketball, or soccer game
    • Ask a friend to help you run a poetry reading at your home or in a coffee shop

Accept more invitations.

  1. Saying “yes” gives you the opportunity to join other social groups. Though you shouldn’t hang out with people who make you uncomfortable, you should work on giving people a chance. If someone invites you out to a study session, party, or happy hour, instead of instinctively saying no, you should give it a shot. If you really don’t have a good time there, then you can always leave – no one will be forcing you to stay. Half of success in life comes from just showing up.
    • If you’re really nervous about accepting an invitation because you’re not quite sure what to expect, try to ask a few questions to get the lay of the land so you feel more comfortable. If you’re invited to a party, see if anyone else you know will be there. If you’re invited to a concert, ask what the venue is like. If you feel like you have more of an idea of what to expect, you’ll be less nervous about the opportunity.

Spend more time out of the house.

  1. The more time you spend out in the world, the more likely you’ll be to connect with someone. Though you may not wander into an instant party the second you step out of the house, you definitely won’t have a chance to be more social if you’re cooped up indoors. Just being outside gives you the chance to strike up a conversation or to meet someone new. Instead of studying at home, go to a coffee shop, where you might start a conversation with the person sitting next to you. Going out to grab some tea or lunch will give you the opportunity to run into someone you know, and to sit down together for a few minutes.
    • Just being out in the world will help you form a habit of being around other people. The more time you spend around other people, the more you’ll get used to greeting people, making small talk, and alleviating any social anxiety you may have.
    • Also, just being out in the world, getting some sunlight and fresh air, will make you feel less isolated and more likely to connect with other people. It can be hard to socialize when you’re used to being on your own.

Get more involved at your workplace or school.

  1. Build up your existing connections. If you have a job, try to get involved in organizing happy hours, holiday parties, work volunteering events, or Sunday softball leagues. There should be a committee you can join or an event that you can help run, which should help you get to know more people. As far as school goes, joining the newspaper, yearbook, student council, or soccer or tennis team can also help you feel more involved and to get to know more people.
    • Even if doing these things doesn’t help you instantly make a best friend, it’ll help you learn to work closely with other people, to be part of a team, and to have daily social interactions with people.
    • You don’t have to run for president if you join the student council. Start small, and join the school spirit committee or another aspect of the organization that can help you have an impact without being in the spotlight.

Avoid building all of your social connections on the Internet.

  1. Online community can’t always be a substitute for in-person interaction. If you’re part of a meaningful online community where you truly exchange ideas with people who share your interests, that’s great. But if you’re the kind of person who spends hours on Facebook, g-chat, Twitter, or other forms of social media or interaction without actually talking to anyone in person, then you may have a problem. Though having someone like your photo or posting a comment on someone’s Facebook wall can bring you some momentary joy, it won’t substitute having a meaningful interaction with someone in-person.
    • In fact, socializing too much on social media can hold you back from having real interactions in person; avoid using social media as a crutch and spend more time talking to people face-to-face.
    • You can use Facebook to be in touch with people, but make sure you message them to hang out in person, use it to invite people to real events, and generally make an effort to meet up with people outside of the Internet. Otherwise, you won’t be truly socializing – you’ll only be taking superficial measures to feel connected with people.

Give yourself time to come out of your shell.

  1. You might have to go beyond the surface to really make relationships last. The key here is that this part takes time, and that even social butterflies may not make meaningful connections all the time. The important thing is that you give yourself time to open up and to come out of your shell instead of expecting that you’ll have five BFFs after a month. Have patience with yourself and the people around you and know that it will take a while to build meaningful friendships.
    • First, you may just be at the acquaintance level with someone, and after a few cups of coffee or a lunch date, you may call that person your friend. After a few months, you may start to really open up to each other, and soon enough, that person will be one of your nearest and dearest. But if you rush the relationship, it may fizzle out; instead, expect that it’ll take some time to make true friends.

Stay in touch with people.

  1. Keep up your connections and friendships once you’ve built them. Sure, making small talk and going to a few parties can help you get to know people, but if you want to stay friends, you can’t just fall off the grid. If you turn down three or four invitations from someone, then that person may give up on you. If you don’t answer your phone or respond to text messages, then your relationships will fizzle out. However, if you make an effort to check in with your friends at least once a week, to make plans routinely, and to let people know you’re thinking of them, then you’ll be on your way to making real social bonds.
    • Though you don’t have to always be around, you don’t want to develop a reputation for being a flake, either. If you want to build real relationships with people, then they have to feel like they can depend on you.

Put dates on your calendar.

  1. Fill your calendar with social endeavors to prioritize social time. Now, you don’t have to force yourself to hang out with people every day of the week, but you should make plans at least once or twice a week so you maintain a social life. Just saying that you’ll be at a party or concert and putting it on your calendar can go a long way in making you feel like your social life is developing in a meaningful way. Once the dates are down on your calendar, you’ve made a commitment, and it’s important to stick to it.
    • If you’re having a really busy week, then see if you can combine a social situation with something you have to do. Maybe invite a friend to study for your history exam with you or ask her to join you in the weekly yoga class you’ve committed to.
    • Of course, it’s equally important to make time for yourself. If you’re naturally introverted or have trouble being social, then you can’t go from being alone all the time to hanging out with a million friends all the time without difficulty. Make sure you make time for “me time” and that you don’t sacrifice it for anything.

Aim for quality over quantity.

  1. Find the people who really matter to you and commit to spending time with them. You may think that being social means talking to a million people all day and all night. In reality, it’s more important to be social with a few people you really care about regularly instead of filling your life with a bunch of people that don’t really matter to you. Just a handful of good friends can go a long way in making you feel less alone and more outgoing.
    • Of course, hanging out in big groups can be fun every once in a while. You can mix that up with more intimate, one-on-one sessions with the people who are close to you.

Be a good listener.

  1. Another way to develop closer social bonds is to learn to truly listen to people. This means putting away your phone and other distractions when someone is talking to you, making eye contact, and not interrupting the person who is trying to tell you something. It also means remembering what the person told you so you can follow up on it later. Just sitting down with someone you care about and giving that person your time will show him or her that you’re a friend who is worth keeping.
    • If your friend is talking to you about a struggle she’s having, try not to compare her life to yours too much or it’ll minimize the problem. Instead, take her situation at its own face value and use your experiences to provide advice.
    • If your friend tells you that he or she has something important coming up, then you should check in before the event happens to wish him or her luck, or ask how it went. This shows that you listen and you care.
    • In general, aim to listen more than you talk during conversations.[3]

Show people how much they mean to you.

  1. Demonstrating that you care lets you go beyond the superficial social connections. This means taking the time to thank your friends for doing you favors or just letting that person know how much his or her friendship means to you. Though you may feel shy about letting people know how much you appreciate them, making this effort can go a long way in helping you develop long-lasting and important social bonds.
    • You can do a favor for your friend, such as picking up coffee or lunch for her, to show how much she means to you.
    • Don’t think that thank you cards are outdated. Writing one for a friend who has helped you out can really make a difference.
    • Give your friends love, positivity, and compliments. Tell them why they’re awesome, from complimenting their sense of humor to their ability to listen.

Let go of your fear of rejection.

  1. All of us face rejection at some point, but you can get through it! One of the reasons that people can tend to feel antisocial is because they’re afraid of being rejected if they make an effort to hang out with people. Sure, this can happen, and we’ve all felt the sting of trying to chat with someone only to have that person be rude or turn away. But don’t let this fear stop you from saying hi to people, inviting people to hang out with you, or trying to make small talk with someone you don’t know very well. The fact of the matter is, most people are pretty kind once you give them a chance; as for the people who may not warm to your attempts at conversation, they’re not worth it anyway.
    • Though it may sound corny, you never know until you try. If you try to hang out with someone and they turn you down, then you’re no worse off than you were before. However, if that person wants to hang out with you, then you’re on the way to gaining a friend. There are far more benefits to trying to hang out with someone than drawbacks, so what’s the harm in trying?
    • If you face rejection from time to time, you’ll only be working on developing maturity and thick skin; life is all about how you respond to rejection, instead of trying to avoid it.
    • Just take a deep breath, relax, and remind yourself that the worst that can happen when you try to be social is that the person doesn’t want to be social back. Is that really a tragedy? It may feel like one, but in the scheme of things, someone turning you down will only be a minor setback.

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  1. [v161644_b01]. 17 November 2020.
  2. [v161644_b01]. 17 November 2020.
  3. [v161644_b01]. 17 November 2020.

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