As we get older, it gets harder to find new friends, as we are no longer in school or college &exposed to new people every day. Just because you are unhappy with your usual weekend plans doesn’t mean you are trapped. There are several habits that will improve your social skills. It is never too late to start meeting new people & doing things of your interest, & you will expect to see your life improve for the better.
Habits That Will Improve Your Social Skills
1. Don’t Hide Behind Mobile Phone
You can blame some of the issues you have with being social on the small device you carry in your pocket. It has become acceptable to look at your phone in public, & this has effects negatively on social interaction. Before cell phones (particularly smartphones), you had no choice but to talk to the people around you. You could bury your face in a book or newspaper, but both of these things lacked the variability & easy access of a phone.
Nowadays, nonetheless, almost everyone has a smartphone. Because it has become so common, it is easy to use your phone to avoid talking to strangers (or even acquaintances you would like to avoid). If you want to connect with people effectively, you must put your phone away. It may seem awkward at first, maybe even a bit uneasy. But if you want a conversation, you must first show that you are open to talking.
2. Do More Things in Person
Nowadays, various apps deliver everything from groceries to medicines to burgers. Unite this with services that allow you to stream more media than you could ever consume in a lifetime, & it is easy to spend most of your time on your comfortable couch. While these online services can help us save money & time, they also isolate us from the real world & the people who live in it. Without regular human contact, your social skills will weaken.
For this reason, it is advisable to do more things in person. Here are a few things you can try:
- Shop for groceries in a market instead of online.
- Go out to eat instead of ordering food delivery; it will be great if you invite a friend or family member.
- Watch a movie at the theater instead of streaming it.
- Buy books at a nearby bookstore instead of on Amazon.
Above are just some ideas. You can think of many more opportunities that will relate to your hobbies & daily activities.
3. Ask Open-Ended Questions in a Conversation
Asking open-ended questions can be an efficient way to get others to participate in a conversation. It can help by letting your insight & understanding into your friends, family, colleagues & even your superiors. When you start to throw the open-ended question, it can help them feel corroborated in their thoughts & emotions. This can have a favorable impact on how your relationships. Sometimes, coworkers may welcome being asked open-ended questions; it shows you are interested in their ideas.
4. Find Planned Social Activities
If you are an introvert, you can find it hard to initiate conversations with random people in a coffee shop, a bar, or in line at the grocery store. This is because these circumstances are too open-ended and also need more formation. They put all the importance on talking, which, being an introvert, can be awkward & draining when you are first meeting people.
To ease these pressures, try to find some social activities with structure. This way, you can have something to do when unsure what to say. You may try these:
- Board game nights (many local bars, coffee shops, & community centers host these)
- Sports leagues
- Community band or orchestra
- In-person classes (cooking, photography, painting, anything of your interest)
The main goal is to find some activity that gives you a chance to talk but also something else to focus on when the conversation meets awkward silence.
5. Use Positive Body-Language
Body language says many things words never could. How a person is standing or sitting can tell a lot about their feelings. Understanding how to interpret these cues &how to use them is one of the vital habits that will improve your social skills. It would help if you used ‘open’ body language when trying to be more social. Open body language conveys to others that you are interested in communicating with them.
Here are some essential things you can try:
- Do not cross your legs & arms
- Stand or sit straight
- Turn toward people
- Relax your shoulders (many people naturally tighten them)
If you do the above, you will appear more friendly & “open” to talking with people. You can also use the same principles to see if it is apt to join a conversation. If people are standing/sitting with their bodies open (turned outward), that indicates they are willing to have someone join the conversation.
6. Be a Good Listener
Asking open-ended questions is an excellent way to keep a conversation flowing but be careful. If you ask too many questions, you can come off as robotic or unfocused. Effective listening is about more than just inactively receiving information. Instead, you must show the other person that you are listening with attention. This comes from positive statements, body language, & a healthy amount of silence.
7. Maintain Eye Contact
Try to maintain eye contact during conversations. Plan to set a goal to make & hold eye contact for at least three to five seconds each time you talk to someone. You can practice with a close friend or family member. Let them know you are trying to develop your ability to maintain eye contact. Try to hold eye contact during the beginning of the conversation, when listening to your friend speaking & while thanking them & ending the conversation.
8. Don’t Force Humor
Being funny is an excellent way to make friends. But only some are humorous. Not everyone is funny all the time, either. Not everyone possesses that personality, & that is all right. You don’t have to be funny to have good conversations &build great relationships. There is a need for serious people in the world as well.
No matter what you do, don’t try to force humor. People can see when you are trying to be funny by going out of your personality. It is off-putting & uncomfortable. Just be yourself. What you will find is that you will unavoidably get some laughs just while talking naturally.
The more successful social communications you have, you will become more confident. As your confidence grows, socializing with others will become easier & even fun. But you cannot construct your confidence if you are not getting out & trying.
Regardless of your smartness, you will be some unwelcome guest if you don’t have good social skills. Maybe you are seeing others less competent than you getting promoted while you are not. Or being invited to sit at the equal of the “cool kids’ table” at company dinners while you are sitting at the back.
Even if you are an introvert or lack the social skill & grace of your colleagues & friends, you can become good at this. You don’t have to settle for average in your personal or professional life. Here are some habits that will improve your social skills, which you can try.