We all have a desire for strong, genuine relationships. It’s the glue that keeps us sane and grounded. But sometimes our social skills are lacking. This is especially true when it comes to dating or making friends with people who are different from us – maybe they’re younger or older, more introverted or extroverted, more educated or less educated.
The good news is there are many ways you can improve your social skills so you can enjoy stronger connections with others! Here are ten tips on how to do just that:
Decide why you want to improve your social skills
There are many reasons that people decide to take the initiative and learn how to better interact with other individuals. For example, maybe you’re tired of pretending to laugh at jokes that aren’t funny because the person telling the joke assumes that since they think it’s funny, everyone else does too. Or maybe you feel like you need to be more proactive in going after what you want because finding a sense of purpose is more important than waiting for it to find you.
Whatever your motivation is, think about how can your life improve if your social skills were stronger? How would that look and how would it make you feel? Having a concrete understanding of why you’re embarking on this journey of self-improvement will keep you motivated during the times when you feel exhausted or are ready to quit.
Notice what works and what doesn’t work
Every interaction is an opportunity to practice your social skills, so take the time to reflect on the interactions you have with others. What is working? If you’re having a hard time figuring that out just by paying attention to your emotions, then put down your smartphone and pick up a pen and paper. Write down how you feel before, during and after interacting with other people.
You’ll start to notice patterns in your behavior if you pay attention. If you’re feeling anxious, for example, it could be because there’s something that triggers your nerves or because standing up straighter helps to calm the physical symptoms associated with anxiety like racing heart rate or sweaty palms. Once you understand what makes you feel awkward, it’s much easier to identify what works so that you can shift your behavior accordingly.
Don’t try to change everything at once
When we’re unhappy with our relationships or interactions, it’s tempting to want to have a complete overhaul of how we interact with others ASAP because it feels like the only solution. But when you try to change too much too fast, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with frustration, doubt and anxiety which are counterproductive emotions when it comes to learning how to have better interactions with others.
So take things slow by giving yourself permission to mess up or feel uncomfortable in the moment because that’s what learning and self-improvement is all about.
Try different kinds of socialization opportunities that interest you
There are some people who prefer to spend time on their own because they’re more introverted, while others need a lot of alone time in order to feel rejuvenated after socializing for extended periods of time. Some people enjoy being around people their own age, while others are more likely to connect with older or younger folks. Some people are drawn to artistic types of interactions, while others seek opportunities for humor.
The point is to try new things so that you have a better understanding of what works for you and what doesn’t. For instance, if you’re not really into drinking, then it might be a good idea to avoid happy hours in favor of more low-key opportunities. If you’re not really comfortable being in large groups of people, then pick smaller parties or gatherings instead of big events. Understanding how your social behavior differs depending on the situation will help you feel more confident when it comes to knowing what works for you.
The practice of mindfulness is all about noticing without judgment what’s happening in the present moment. This means that when you’re trying to figure out how to improve your social interactions, it’s important not focus on judging yourself for the ways in which you fall short of expectations.
Some people think that self-awareness and self-criticism go hand-in-hand, but mindfulness is actually about being aware of what’s happening in the present moment for you and not judging yourself. Being judgmental only serves to make most people feel anxious or self-conscious so it’s counterproductive when you’re trying to build your social skills.
Swap out negative thoughts with positive emotions
For example, if you’re worried that your nervousness might hold you back from connecting with others, think about ways in which you can channel your nervous energy into excitement instead. Or if you’re thinking that people are unfriendly or judgmental, then try to focus on the possibility that someone has something interesting to teach you or share instead of focusing on unpleasant possibilities.
The more you focus on the positive possibilities, the more empowered you’ll feel to engage in social interactions and have a conversation. The more empowered you feel, the greater potential there is that other people will be drawn to your confidence and relaxed energy!
Give compliments generously
Compliments are a great way to let others know that you see and appreciate them. This doesn’t mean you have to shower people with false praise or flattery, but simply taking the time to notice what others do will make your social interactions far more positive.
This is something that I’ve been practicing in my relationships recently because it’s always nice to be on the receiving end of a compliment, but it’s also nice to make someone feel good by noticing something they did. Even simply smiling at someone and saying hello is an excellent way to let them know that you see them and appreciate their positive contribution.
Take care of yourself
When you’re feeling tired or unmotivated, it’s likely that your social interactions will suffer because you won’t feel like going out or talking with others. The more tired and drained you feel, the more difficult it will be to engage in a conversation because all of your energy will be focused on getting through the day!
In order to make sure you have plenty of energy for socializing, it’s important to make sure you get enough sleep and take care of yourself so that you don’t run out of steam. Taking time for yourself and relaxing helps your energy levels remain high throughout the day, making those difficult social interactions much more manageable.
Be a good listener
Being a good listener is one of the most important skills you can develop to improve your social interactions because it ensures that others feel heard which makes them feel more comfortable engaging with you. If you seem like you’re not paying attention or are only waiting for your turn to speak, then people will likely choose not to share with you because they won’t feel valued or appreciated.
Listening isn’t something that just happens, it requires practice and patience. Try to quiet your mind so that you’re only focused on what the other person is saying instead of how you’ll respond or what you’ll say next. The more you focus on listening intently without thinking about what to say next, the easier it will be for you to learn and engage with others.
Stop trying to be perfect
One of the most powerful things you can do when you’re trying to improve your social skills is to stop worrying about being perfect! It’s important not to compare yourself with others, but simply figure out who you are and what makes sense for you. For example, if one person doesn’t want deep conversations and prefers to keep things light, then that’s just who they are. If another person prefers to have deeper conversations but isn’t very good at starting them, then that’s just how they are.
Focus on what makes sense for you and what is easiest for you, rather than feeling like everything has to be perfect all the time. Perfectionism can often lead to high stress levels, which only makes it more difficult for you to feel relaxed around other people. If you allow yourself to be exactly who you are, then you can connect with others in ways that feel genuine and natural for both parties!
Take some time to look over these ten tips when you’re trying to improve your social skills. Remember, the more confident and empowered you feel, the easier it will be for others to see your positive traits! The self-improvement possibilities in this area are endless, so take advantage of them and watch your social interactions take off in an exciting new direction. Thanks for reading!