Social skills improve with practice. The more time you spend interacting with others, the better you become at social interaction (makes sense, right?)
Unfortunately, finding the opportunity to practice can be difficult. If you want to be a better runner, you can lace on your shoes and run around the block, but if you want to get better at social skills, where do you go to practice?
That’s what this article is all about. Sit tight, and I’ll tell you three of my favorite hobbies that helped me improve my social skills — and that can help you, too!
1) Improv Theater
In improv, everything is made up on the spot. No script, no planning ahead of time. You just go out and make a scene from nothing. The scenes are often hilarious, sometimes poignant, and always entertaining.
As I’ve noted elsewhere, improv is a lot like social interaction. And the same principles that equip you to feel confident striding on stage and making a scene from nothing will also help you to have confidence and competence in social situations.
And, just like social interaction, improv is for everyone. You don’t have to be naturally funny or theatrical. Improv works based on a few simple principles (like accepting and building on what your partner brings to the scene), and any improv class will teach you to apply those principles like a pro.
In an improv class, you start by doing lots of fun games and exercises that help you become comfortable with using your imagination and thinking on your feet, and then you start making some scenes with other students. It’s super fun, and you will often make good friends with the other students.
Improv has taught me to have more confidence, think on my feet, and be comfortable when I’m pushed outside my comfort zone. Take a moment and search for improv theater classes in your area — then sign up! You’ll be happy you did.
2) Partner Dancing
Partner dancing is a great way to meet people and become more comfortable in your own skin.
I’m not talking about choreographed dancing (although that can be fun too!) Instead, I’m referring to dances like salsa, swing, or ballroom, where you’re paired up with someone and you make up the dance as you go along.
Much like improv, anyone can learn partner dancing. There are tons of beginners classes designed for people with no experience, and it doesn’t take long to get the basics down. And once you have a few classes under your belt, you’ll find that you move with more grace and confidence in your everyday life, which will help you make positive first impressions.
Plus, dancing allows you to meet new people. Many cities have social dancing events, where people go to meet others to dance with. You might dance with a dozen people during the course of the night, which means you get a dozen opportunities to practice conversation, get to know someone else, and make a new friend!
Bottom line: Dancing is a great skill, it’s a lot of fun, and it will help you socially. Give it a try!
3) Toastmasters Public Speaking
Toastmasters is a public speaking club that is active in over 100 countries. It is a phenomenal way to overcome social anxiety, get better at public speaking, and learn how to communicate clearly and effectively. I did Toastmasters and loved it — you can see me giving a Toastmasters speech here.
You don’t need speaking experience to join Toastmasters — most people who join have never given a speech before.
Toastmasters clubs usually meet once a week, and follow a simple format. Everyone gets the chance to speak for about a minute at every meeting, by giving an impromptu answer to an interesting question (ie, “What would you do if you were president?”) Then, 2-3 people will give a prepared speech, about a topic that they chose. After that, someone will offer constructive, positive feedback to the people who gave a speech.
Toastmasters works wonders on your social skills, because it gives you consistent opportunities to practice and to get good feedback. Instead of practicing blindly, you’ll get expert advice from people who want to help you succeed. And you’ll have the opportunity to practice every week, so you will improve quickly. There is probably a Toastmasters club near you, so check them out!
Social Skills Hobbies
There you have it — three hobbies that improve your social skills.
All three of these hobbies have helped me in my own life, and I strongly encourage you to give them a try.
Are there any hobbies that have helped you in your social skills journey? Share them in the comments!