If you want to connect with people, however, you need to put away your phone. It will seem awkward at first, maybe even painful. But if you want to have a conversation, you need to first signal that you’re open to talking.
Putting away your phone sends a signal that you want to talk, and it also makes you more likely to take in your surroundings (including any potential conversation partners).
These days, there are apps to deliver everything from groceries to toothpaste to tacos. Combine this with services that let you stream more media than you could ever consume in a lifetime, and it’s easy to spend most of your time inside, at home.
Wearing headphones says, “Please don’t talk to me, I don’t want to be bothered.” This is great when you don’t want your coworkers to interrupt you, but it’s terrible when you want to connect with people.
Putting away the headphones (or taking out the AirPods) opens you up to more social interactions. Plus, you’ll notice new sonic details such as the song of a particular bird or the hum of different passing vehicles. Your experience of the world will be richer overall.
If you’re an introvert , you may find it difficult to strike up conversations with random people in a coffee shop, bar, or line at the grocery store. This is because these situations are too open-ended, too lacking in structure. They put all the emphasis on talking, which can be awkward and draining when you’re first meeting people.
To ease the pressure, I recommend finding social activities with structure. Here are a few ideas:
The goal is to find an activity that gives you the opportunity to talk but also something else to focus on when the conversation lulls.
When you’re trying to be more social, you should use “open” body language. Open body language signals to others that you’re interested in interacting with them.
So what does this look like in practice? Here are the key components:
If you’re making an effort to be more social, there are going to be awkward moments.
If you only focus on avoiding awkwardness, then you’ll quickly give up on trying to socialize at all. And this is the opposite of what you want. So instead, I suggest you embrace the awkwardness . Instead of viewing awkward moments as a “failure,” see them as a sign that you’re pushing the limits of your comfort zone.
As with any other skill, you can only improve your social skills with deliberate practice . And in the course of practicing, you’re bound to have a few awkward moments. Even if you’re the most extroverted, outgoing person on the planet, you can’t escape awkwardness — it’s just a part of being human.
The key, however, is to ask open-ended questions . That is, ask questions that don’t have a simple “yes or no” answer.
It’s the difference between Do you like living here? and What do you think about living here? Or the difference between Where did you grow up? and Tell me about where you grew up (I realize that technically isn’t a “question,” but it still counts).
When you ask open-ended questions, you create the opportunity for dialogue. You learn more about the person you’re talking to, and that information serves as fuel for further conversation. Plus, it takes a lot of pressure off of you.
But how do you listen? Effective listening is about more than just passively receiving information. Instead, you need to show the other person that you’re listening.
The following body language shows that you’re listening:
Finally, don’t talk too much. Really listen; be quiet and take in what the person is saying.
Next time you’re having a conversation, see if you catch yourself thinking about what you’re going to say next rather than focusing on what the other person is saying. You may be surprised how often it happens.
Generally, being aware of this tendency is enough to improve it. But if you’re still struggling, I recommend trying mindfulness meditation . It can help you reign in your wandering mind and focus more on the present moment.
Being funny is a great way to make friends. But not everyone is funny. At least, not everyone is funny all the time. Not everyone has that personality. And that’s okay. You don’t have to be funny to have conversations and build great relationships. There’s room (and need) for serious people in the world as well.
Whatever you do, don’t try to force humor. People can tell when you’re trying to be funny. It’s off-putting and uncomfortable (unless you’re doing some kind of nuanced stand-up routine).
the more you do it the more it become better.
you can’t build your confidence if you aren’t getting out there and trying.
You can start small, and you can still embrace the alone time you need as an introvert (in fact, you neglect it at your peril).
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