If you've come to Improve Your Social Skills, it's probably because you want to be more social. You don't study social skills so you can sit in your room alone---you study them so you can go out and be social!
But how do you actually make that happen? And what does "being social" even mean, anyway?
Well, the first step is to spend some time building up your social skills. If you try to be social and then run into trouble because your social skills need work, you're going to get discouraged and it will be harder to be social in the future.
But let's say you've already put in the time to study and practice your social skills, and you feel confident. You've studied how to make conversation and you've brushed up on your body language. You may not be perfect, but you're ready to put your social skills to use.
If that's you, then becoming more social is easy. Here's how you do it.
Many Roads To Social Success
First, realize that there is no one right way to be social.
"Being social" for you will look different than it does for others, and that's ok.
I have a friend who plays in a different Dungeons and Dragons game almost every night. He dedicates the majority of his social time to these games, but it's a social life that works for him. He gets to spend hours with his friends, doing an activity he enjoys.
I have another friend who goes out dancing 3-4 times per week. Most of her social time is dedicated to meeting new people on the dance floor, and that's the social life that works for her.
I prefer to bounce between a lot of different social activities--my social calendar is always different week to week. That's the social life that works for me.
Find Your Social Rhythm
By now, you've realized my point.
"Being social" doesn't mean that you have to hit the bar scene, or go to parties.
"Being social" means that you discover what a rich, fulfilling social life looks like for you, and then live that out.
If you need a long time to rest between social engagements, being social might mean one social event per week. If you thrive on interaction, being social might mean a new event each day.
If you already have a solid group of friends, being social might mean that you spend most of your time with them. Or, it might mean that you split your time between your old friends and opportunities to meet new friends.
In any case, it needs to be something that works for YOU.
Your "Be Social" Blueprint
Of course, you might not know what a rich, fulfilling social life looks like for you. And that's ok.
Like many other areas of life, being social takes time to figure out. But there's an easy two-step process that can help you through it. I call it "Ponder & Go Yonder."
First, ponder your social goals and your previous social experiences.
Think through what has worked for you in the past, and what has been flawed in the past that you would like to improve for the future. The goal is not to figure things out completely, but to discover a few possibilities for areas where you can grow your social life.
Second, go yonder.
By this I mean try something that is new but achievable. The word "yonder" refers to something that is distant but within view. Try for that balance of "distant but within view" when pondering new ways to be more social.
In other words, explore new social opportunities that may be a bit challenging or scary (ie, "distant") but make sure they are still achievable (ie, "within view.")
Growing Towards Social Success
"Ponder & Go Yonder" is a repeating process.
You'll spend some time thinking, which will give you an idea for something new for you to try. That new experience will give you more fuel for thought, and your thinking will in turn lead to new experiences.
The cycle keeps repeating, and every time it does, you grow a little closer to a full understanding of what "being social" looks like for you.
So there's no rush. Just commit to a slow and steady cycling of "Ponder & Go Yonder" and you grow steadily closer to the rich, fulfilling social life you desire.
But before you embark on that journey, why not share your thoughts in the comments? I would love to hear your ideas on what "being social" looks like for you, or your tips for how others can apply "Ponder & Go Yonder" successfully.
Well,I am trying to find myself in some social situations.Mostly I like to socialize with one very good friend but I would like to be good in group discussion,too.Perhaps my problem is small talk because I used to talk with one friend about personal things and not about weather or something like that.Everyone seems like having fun talking about unimportant things.
Also,I don’t know what to think about clubs.I would like to enjoy dancing and jumping around dancing floor but I really don’t.I sometimes go to club because there go everybody so I don’t want to miss fun.Maybe the problem is I don’t know how to dance or I feel uncomforable..
working next to each other in a coffee shop and discussing science from time to time.
Being social is just looking like you’re enjoying a good time with good friends or people you just met, but more importantly being socially skilled in your interaction.
I see the Ponder and Go Yonder as something your social experimentation after getting feedback from your response you input for the output response from the other person. This becomes your frame of reference for future response and calibrate it next time.
When I was 6, I was diagnosed with ADHD and a speech impairment. When I was little I used to be so painfully shy because I had little experience around people that I would speak a little roughly. I wouldn’t say I have severe aspergers (I wouldn’t say I have it at all). After High school I was diagnosed with aspergers, which I think was a grave mistake because I’m bad at communicating, I think that doctor was a quack. Despite my disbelief of my diagnosis, there are still some areas I’d like to work on like continuing a conversation, being more socially acceptable, better at communicating, being less indifferent, belligerent, and antisocial, and most of all, making atleast one close friend. Please help me guys and give me some ideas.
Hi Dan, thank you for this wonderful site! I usually make new friends in my jobs, gym and whenever a good friend introduces me to one of their good friends. I am terrible at meeting new people in other contexts as I struggle with anxiety and low self esteem. I do have some form of the social anxiety syndrom so the “go yonder” phase will definitely have to come, as you say, after some serious practice of the basic skills…. Like you say, it takes perseverance but there is hope!
Hey, thanks for the great post here, and for the website! Up until now, I was kind of lost of how to be social, I feel a bit of pressure, because I’m past the 20s and I’m not much of a charismatic type. But now I reflect on what I read, for me being social means to do the hobbies I like, e.g. Board games, or walking with my friends. And from time to time, let’s say, once per month, or every two weeks, go to a meeting. Not a party of course, but a meeting or friends. Never liked noisy places like discos or bars, but that’s me. It’s been a messy week trying to figure that out, I was very anxious. I’ll do my best!
In all honesty for every bad example of being a good friend I have a friend who perfectly fits it. It has made me realize who some of my true friends are, however. I enjoy social interaction in the form of parties because I like getting faded and hooking up wit ladies, yet parties are difficult for me socially because I rarely feel comfortable at them and most of my friends that like to party are not really great friends at all. So I mix it up, party sometimes, and just chill in the basement with a good friend occasionally and play guitar, get baked, play video games, watch movies, etc. just depending on which friend.
I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome but I don’t remember when. I was always lost on mainstream society’s standards of being social. Thank you for this site though. Two thing I wanted help with is the thinking things through process (what you call ponder) and how to get interested in more current culture like sports, tv and music nowadays.
I love this idea, but I want something for teens. I’m almost thirteen.
This was reaaaally helpful. I always wanted to socialise but never knew how to get started. The idea about finding your social rhythm and blueprint has really helped.
I want to be outspoker and social but. I. am shy.please help me
Good article and you make some very good points about how to be more social. I particularly liked the Find Your Social Rythm, as so many people mistake being shy with being introvert, and they believe that being social means always being the king of the party.
The social rythm for an introvert can be very different from the social needs of an extrovert, so I would advice people not to be urged to meet more people and have more friends if they are not feeling like so. Being social is just having the amount of social life that you find satisfactory, even though when you compare yourself with others you are below them in terms of number or cuality of interactions.
Congratulations for this site, it is really helpful.
Hi, thanks for the website. It’s really helpful. I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and as such I find it really hard to interact with people. I’ve started a new job and the social interaction with my new colleagues has been excruciating due to anxiety. But this website has given me so much insight into what i’m doing wrong that now I can start doing it right. Thank you so much
Thanks! I’m glad I could help 🙂
Being successfully social looks like an enormous challenge. By myself, I overcame love addiction, depression, and shyness. But it seems you can not overcome a lack of social skills by yourself. I can not believe a friend would ask for my help. I plan to study reality TV, try to help people, and continue with “Meet up” groups. I do not expect to go far but I will keep trying. It may be almost impossible to win, but it IS impossible to give up.
I relate to what people are saying I am a baby boomer I have always had a hard time making friends because my mom was verbally abusive to me and I was bullied a lot as a child I have a lot of aquaintances , am friendly to others , I have a husband and daughter , who both have friends they go out with , I guess I meet people who are clicky , I work long term as a case worker soc worker, I get along with others , but i dont quite connect with others beyond this for some reason . .
Although I was shy as a child and in my teens I have learnt over the years his to project a confident image, colleagues and employers have often commented on my good communication skills and I get on well with everyone at work, the problem arises in making close friends. Most of the people I come into contact with have a social life which seems to revolve around pubs and clubs on a Saturday night and drinking heavily, it doesn’t seem to be a good night unless someone falls out of a taxi or throws up ! I am not judging them at all but this has never been my mindset and on the infrequent occasions I have joined them I leave early because I feel uncomfortable in these situations, I have always enjoyed reading, art and the theatre but feel like a bit of an “old fogey” admitting this and would love to meet like minded people. Groups which are interested in these kind of things are few and far between where I live so I’m beginning to feel as if being lonely is something I’ll just have to get used to.
I would love to meet people, but find it difficult. I take time to get to know people. But I am a great
listener. i would love to learn Bridge.
I’ve been told I make good first impressions nice, but I find it difficult to keep relationships because I don’t make myself memorable (That is how I see it) I listen really well and actually listen to what others are saying so it catches some off guard, when I can point out some conversation we had a while back.
My main thing has to do with being more confident and not focus so much on negative things people think of or being worried about embarrassing myself.
Yea being socialy is real, bt it takes a price to sacrifice….
This is a nice sentiment and all, but there’s nothing here about what I should actually be doing in order to be more social. Where is “yonder”? What sort of “distant but achievable” goal should I be looking for? The right mindset will only take you so far; I need practical advice as well.
I understand your need for practical guidance — it can be difficult to take advice and actually figure out how to apply to your life. I think the challenge in answering your questions is that they are unique to you. The right “distant but achievable” goal will be different for you than for someone else. So I can only offer the theory, not a one-size-fits-all game plan.
But the good news is that with the theory, you can do a lot of experimentation. Pick a social thing that you’ve never done before — a cooking class, a meetup group, whatever. And then try it out and see if it helps you become more social. Pick a social goal and work towards it for a few weeks and then see if it feels achievable. Basically, try new things. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. You will eventually find the right answers.
You might also consider seeking out a guide or mentor who can help you find answers to these questions. A therapist can be a really good person to help you choose good goals — teachers or family members can help too.
Thank you for this blog. I found myself afray of talking to people and it might be that I never was really Interested in them but centered at myself and very judgmental or expected to much understanding from others. Ll try to use your advices 😀.
I appreciate that you point out that there are many road that lead to social success. My brother is always telling me that I need to be more social. However, I am playing basketball with a group of friends at least twice a week. I’ll have to tell him that this is my way of being social and that his way is partying with friends.
I need many friends as possible
I feel like i’ve been applying the ponder and yonder process before i read this article, and i think it can work really well. But i think its very important to understand why you might be successful in certain social situations, and why sometimes things don’t go as well as they could have. But keep in mind there is no such thing as an excuse for why things would go right, or wrong in particular. There are simple and explainable reasons. If you can figure the out the reasons, then it will make you more comfortable, confident, and happier which are the real things that will make you more social. I’m still an introvert myself, the reason i’m at this site is because i want to make a lifestyle change into being a better to myself and others. If you read this article or these comments i think its safe to say you are motivated enough to make what ever change you see fit. I hope my thoughts were helpful and i believe in you 🙂
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this website is good
Just now found this sight and it seems to be just what I needed.
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I am a 15 year old male with Aspergers. I used to suck at social interaction, but since then I have improved my social skills by a lot and now I have a decent understanding of the fundamentals. I have even made some great friends! But with that said, I still have a lot to learn. For example, how do you have conversations with someone who has bad social skills and is also shy?
So you just find something to do and go out and make friends within a group activity? This is so hard. Anyone have any good ideas? I’m always up for learning anything new?