Do you say the wrong thing very often? Did you ever misread what is going on? And have ended up making things worse? Then you too are socially awkward! Let’s talk about what it means and how not to be socially awkward.
Chapter 1:Socially Awkward! Who Me?
We love to spend time with others. Being part of a group or friend circle makes us feel loved and valued. We tend to talk to people and try to connect with them. Staying in groups makes us feel safe.
However, it is not all that easy. You too must have had those weird moments when you are talking to someone. Have you ever
- fumbled when saying something?
- felt a loss of words suddenly in the middle of a conversation?
- zoned out while talking to someone?
- tried to appear cool but instead make a complete fool of yourself?
- failed to read a situation?
- said something inappropriate?
- reacted in a wrong way?
If these things happen with you quite often, then you are a socially awkward person.
Signs that you are socially awkward
- Difficulty following social norms: You find it tough to understand and follow social norms. For example, you might not understand how much to share when you meet someone new or what to say when you are at a funeral.
- Do not recognise social cues: It might be difficult for you to identify social cues. For example, you are chatting with a friend. He asks you about your work. You go on explaining to him every detail about what you do. Even after 5 minutes, you want to tell him more. You cannot seem to notice or understand that he is bored.
- Try to avoid social gatherings: You know that you tend to do something silly at parties, events, or functions, and hence, you feel it is better that do not attend them at all.
- Fear that you will be laughed at: You think people will make fun of you or laugh at you.
- Hate being the centre of attention: You do not like it when you are in the spotlight. You feel judged. Therefore, you prefer to be left alone and not be the centre of attention.
- Fail to have a good conversation: Conversations bore you easily. You cannot chit-chat or make small talk.
- Talk non-sense when nervous: When put in a spot, you tend to blabber.
- Misunderstand situations and people: You cannot understand body language. It’s too confusing! Also, there is a high chance that you may say or do something completely wrong. For example, crack a silly joke or laugh in a tense or sad situation.
- Like rules, logic, and systems: You like rules and systems, they make things easy. When left to “understand” or interpret something, you are highly likely to get it all wrong.
- Have poor intuition: It is better when things are straightforward.
Chapter 2:Why Am I This Way?
You could be socially awkward because of a lot of reasons. There could be some deep underlying causes that affect you unconsciously. On the other hand, you could simply be unaware of what is happening around you or not know the right social norms.
- Childhood experiences – Many-a-times, the problems we face as adults have roots in your childhood. For example, in school if you were teased or bullied sue to your height or weight. You will always remember it. We tend to easily believe what others say. Maybe we are too naïve or have low confidence. We carry this view about ourselves in adulthood.
- Trauma or negative event – Another reason we feel socially awkward is having gone through a trauma (abuse) or a life-changing negative event (loss of a dear one). These events affect our self-confidence and we may end up feeling inadequate and thus, awkward while interacting with others.
- Attention and unawareness – A less serious reason for being awkward is because you are unaware of social rules. Or you are too distracted or preoccupied with something else. When you are not paying enough attention to others – what they are saying, what they are doing, what is their mood, etc., then, of course, you will misread them.
Chapter 3:How Not to Be Socially Awkward?
The first thing you need to do is to stop trying too hard. When you try too hard or think about “not being socially awkward”, you will end up making things worse. For example, you meet an old friend after a long time. While leaving you don’t know whether to shake her hand or hug her. In that state, you end up doing something weird and confusing yourself and her.
Don’t worry. You are not the first one with whom this has happened. Surely, your friend too has gone through some odd and awkward situations herself. So RELAX! Remember you are not the only one who feels like way or behaves like this. Here are some tips for you that can help you to work on yourself.
Practice your skills
Try to practice the skills that you lack. Follow these simple steps
- Know what you do wrong – Ask a friend or family member what you do wrong in these “awkward moments”. Even better, ask them to take a video of you if possible the next time they are around and something like this happened. You can watch the video and list down what you do wrong.
- Learn the right skills – Depending on your list, learn the right skills to not make such mistakes. For example, you notice that you barely make eye contact while greeting others. Then, you learn how to remind yourself to make eye contact.
- Create your own fun learning methods and practice – So, to increase your eye contact, you might want to practice greeting or making small talk while standing in front of a mirror. create a rhymical count and make sure you make eye contact on every third count. Practice with your friends and family as well.
- Test it out – Try to use your newly learned skills in a real situation. Note what you did right and what you need to work on more.
Some skills to make you less socially awkward
- Have a firm handshake
- Make good eye contact
- Start a conversation with a smile
- Ask questions but not too many to bug the other person
- Praise others – everyone loves a compliment. So don’t forget to say something nice about them.
- Be a good listener – listen with interest to what others are saying. Nod or show non-verbal signs of listening now and then.
- Learn how to read social cues
- Try to stay in the present – do not let your mind wander off. Practice concentration and focusing techniques.
- Take care that your body language is correct
- Have a friend around. It will make you relax and he/she can jump in case you need it!
Build your self-confidence
You are socially awkward because you are not sure of yourself. You don’t feel confident about saying or doing something. Sometimes, you are assessing what to do or say in your mind or second-guessing your actions. As a result, you end up saying or doing the wrong thing and embarrassing yourself.
Anything that boosts your self-confidence will help you to be more comfortable in social situations. Don’t shy away from doing things because you are too scared. Sometimes jumping head-on can prove to be effective. For example, you feel scared to talk to strangers and then decide to speak to at least 1 stranger every day. Just go for it! It will scare you to bits on the first few days but soon you will get over your fear.
Do things to develop a positive and healthy image of yourself. Do not run away from your fears. Avoiding social events will only add to the problem in the long run. Remember you are the only one who can change your life and make it what you want it to be. So, don’t feel shy or embarrassed. Take the first step by accepting that you are socially awkward and you will not be held back because of it.