WE’VE ALL FELT IT. You don’t know what to say or what to do. You feel too aware of yourself and how you’re standing, how you’re looking, what you sound like. If you have teenagers, you know they feel it intensely. And some of the things teens do that seem so incomprehensible to parents stem from a simple desire to avoid feeling socially awkward.
Although it’s very natural to feel awkward around people you don’t know very well, it isn’t pleasant or productive. Here are two practical things anyone can do to feel more socially comfortable:
Relax your muscles. This makes you calmer. Most people don’t have any problem at all being social around people when they’re relaxed. That’s why social gatherings have traditionally served alcoholic beverages: It relaxes people. Find a muscle in your body that feels a little tense and consciously relax that muscle. You will instantly feel more at ease.
Make it your mission to help the other person feel more comfortable. Make conversation easy for the other person by asking questions she’ll enjoy answering. Find out the person’s name, whether she’s from this area, or if she’s not, where she’s from. Her answers will probably stimulate other questions and conversation. How about her family: Do they live in this area? Big family? Brothers and sisters? What do they do? How about work? What does she do for a living? Does she like it? What got her into it? How about travel? What parts of the world has she seen? Any hobbies? Listen with interest. Let her know you like what she’s saying. Help her feel comfortable.
That is basically six areas to talk about: name, home, family, work, travel, hobbies. Memorize that list of six topics, and when the time comes, the questions will come to mind easily, keeping the conversation lively and smooth. A smooth and lively conversation will put the other person at ease which will make you feel more comfortable.
You’ll probably never get to all six of the topics because as the other person starts talking, you’ll find points of interest you’ll want to know more about, and the two of you will start talking about that, and off you’ll go into Conversation Land.
You’ll get to know the person and have a wonderful time and you’ll just forget to feel awkward because you can only feel awkward when you’re self-conscious. As you become increasingly conscious of the other person, you become less conscious of yourself and your awkwardness disappears.
Relieve your social awkwardness by relaxing and concerning yourself with helping the other person feel comfortable. People will love you for it.
Relax your muscles and make it your mission
to help the other person feel more comfortable.