Interact With People
People are complicated: they don't come with a user manual and they're glitchy-er than a new Windows OS. You never know what you're going to get! If you have trouble talking with people, whether it's people you know or people you don't, wikiHow has your back. Get started with Step 1 below to get on your way to happy, smooth interactions.
- Identify your hesitancy. Why aren't you interacting with people now? Are you interacting with people but feel like you're doing it wrong? If you can identify the problem, it will go a long way towards helping you overcome it. In the meantime, try the advice below.
- Overcome your social anxiety. For many people, interacting with others is stressful. If you get worried about talking to people, you may want to focus on coping with your anxiety first.
- Believe in yourself. If you are afraid that you will fail to make friends, or that you will constantly upset people, you're going to have a very hard time interacting with others. Believe in yourself and you will find interactions getting easier and easier.
- Build your self-esteem. If you spend a bunch of time thinking that no one will want to talk with you because they're so much better than you are, you'll miss out on a wonderful world of interaction! Spend some time realizing how amazing you are and you'll see the world in a different light.
- Be confident. Lack of self-confidence can make it really hard to interact with people, often because others sense that you are not confident and that makes them nervous. Build your self-confidence or at least learn how to fake it in order to make others like you more.
- Practice. As with any skill (and social interaction is definitely a skill), you can get better at it by practicing. Practice your social skills by using them as much as possible. You can start by interacting with family members or even just strangers that you see, like grocers and bank tellers.
- Introduce yourself. When interacting with someone for the first time, it's a good idea to introduce yourself. Where in the conversation you introduce yourself, however, will depend on the individual conversation.
- Walking up to a stranger and introducing yourself before saying anything else makes it seem like you're selling something (or just weird).
- Introducing yourself when you first meet someone at a party, however, is a good idea. Especially if it's an official function, like a work party.
- Talk to strangers. If you're not interacting with people much now but you'd like to start, chances are you're going to have to talk with some strangers. It's not as bad as it sounds! Find a reason to speak up and just let things happen naturally. Who knows: maybe you'll meet a new friend!
- Make friends. The best people to interact with are friends and having more of them can only improve your life. For people who are shy or not that social, however, making friends can seem really hard. But with some perseverance and patience, you can make lots of friends. Just remember to be yourself and only keep friends in your life that make you a better person!
- Treat your friends well. As for the friends you have, treat those friends well. This will help with many interactions. Help people that are having a hard time by talking with them. Listen to them when they tell you a story about their day. You get the idea.
- Talk with your friends. Even when you feel like you don't really have anything to talk about, you should try to start conversations. Awkward silences can cause your friends to worry or get nervous...even make them feel ignored!
- Make your conversations great. Make the conversations that you do have good ones. Ask questions, really listen, and take an active role in the conversation. Don't hog the talk time and don't be too quiet either. Conversations require teamwork!
- Take advantage of your peers. Whether you're a student or an adult, you should have people in your life that you can interact with: peers. Your fellow students or coworkers make great people to interact with.
- Join an online community. Especially for people with a lot of social anxiety, online communities can be a great place to practice social interaction. You can find a fan group for a TV show or book you like or you can volunteer with sites like wikiHow!
- Join a local club. There are real-life clubs and groups as well. These are even better for practicing your social interactions. Most schools will have a variety of clubs, but adults can also find clubs (often through a local library or community center).
- Volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to meet people and also give back to your community at the same time. From soup kitchens to fundraisers, building homes to sheltering animals, there are lots of ways to help out your community and you'll get the chance to meet people with similar values!
- Join a religious group. Whether it's a church, temple, or other religious congregation, these places can provide a safe environment in which to meet people and interact, making new friends with similar interests and values. There is a group for almost any belief system, so give it a try.
- Be more social with existing friends. If you don't like the sounds of these, you can always just be more social with the friends you have. Try to throw a quiet party or start a book club. Whatever sounds good to you and is fun for your friends!
- Be nice. Be nice when you talk to other people. Acknowledge them and be positive in your interactions. Don't lie or talk about them behind their backs. Basically, treat them the way that you would want to be treated!
- Be polite. Be polite when you talk to people. Importantly, be polite to everyone. Always. Even when they're rude to you. Say things like "please" and "thank you", and let them finish speaking before you start talking. You should also be patient with them. Just like you have a hard time interacting with people, they might too (or even have other problems, like disability or mental illness). Act in a way that would make your grandmother proud and you should be set.
- Be humble. When you talk with people, be humble. Don't brag or spend a bunch of time talking about yourself. This makes people not like you and not want to talk with you anymore. Give everyone a chance to talk and don't try to one-up them when they tell you something.
- Be friendly. Be friendly when you talk to people. Don't seem disinterested or like you don't care about them. Keep eye contact, smile, listen, and project a positive mood (even if you're in a bad one).
- Be respectful. Be respectful to everyone you interact with. Give them a chance to talk, don't say or do anything insulting, respect their differences, and generally treat them the way that you would want to be treated.
- Listen. The most important part of interacting well with others is to listen to them. It's a lot less about how much you say or how you say it, and mostly down to how you respond to the things that you really hear them say. Practice your basic listening skills, as well as your ability to read between the lines, and you'll be interacting like a pro in no time!
- "What I tell you three times is true." You cannot fake an emotion three times without feeling it yourself. Smile at people when you're having a lousy day. It'll look forced for the first couple of times, but pretty soon you'll realize you're actually feeling better. On the other hand, you can't fake anger or sadness without feeling angry or sad. So stay away from faking negativity; the sympathy or intimidation you might get out of it aren't worth it.
- Humans are naturally very empathic animals. We pick up on each other's emotions through posture and speech. Everyone around you affects your mood, and you affect theirs. Try getting into the habit of smiling, walking with energy rather than shuffling and slumping, and enjoying your surroundings. Even if you've seen it a thousand times, there's almost always something there that will shock and delight you if you actually look at it.
- Always be prepared to leave in a pleasant fashion. Even the most well-intended interaction can be taken the wrong way by others.
- Don't go overboard. Tiny little snippets of positive interaction when people are receptive is good. Trying to force strangers into conversations out of the blue is bad, nervous, and awkward. Boundaries are instinctive; don't step over them.
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