Know what I’ve found many shy people find frustrating?
The fact they can talk fine with some people, like long established friends, but struggle and bumble along with strangers.
Know what’s worse? Feeling guilty about that frustration…
…because while you’re grateful for your friends, you might still want more. You probably want to “fit in” with new people too.
Look, it’s ok to want to learn how to be social with people. The desire to belong is a universal human need. So if you feel powerless to make new friends, it’s natural (and wise) to be upset.
Because what happens if you move away from your current friends or you’re forced out of your comfort zone? How would you create another place to “belong?”
So, here are some tips on how to be more outgoing I’ve learned over the past 10+ years of improving my social skills.
Work on Raising Self-Esteem
Having high self-esteem helps you to be outgoing because you get validation from yourself. When you feel good about you, what others think of you doesn’t matter so much.
Meaning you’ll have less fear of approaching new people.
You stop worrying you’ll do something to ‘turn people off.” You strut the attitude of, “You know what? I’m awesome. If this person can’t see that then their loss.”
Three ways to begin raising self-esteem:
- Regularly recall past successes (to remind yourself you’re a capable person)
- Know and stay true to your values
- Read this post…
Be in the Present Moment
In helping myself and others become more social, I’ve discovered many times the problem isn’t lack of people skills, but lack of awareness.
Shy and introverted people spend WAY too much time in their heads. Because of this, they don’t catch helpful details of the moment. Things they could use to connect and continue the conversation.
- The interesting tattoo on her calf that would make a perfect conversation starter
- A change in his tone of voice indicating passion for the subject matter
- Free information given by a co-worker you can use to continue the chat
Being mindful of the present moment increases social ability because you have “more to work with.” This boosts your confidence making your more likely to be outgoing.
Disprove Limiting Beliefs
I was once so careful in conversations. I didn’t want to say the “wrong thing” or reveal stuff about myself others might not like.
If you’re like this, then of course you’re not outgoing; the experience itself is oppressive. You don’t feel like yourself around new people and can’t stand out because, well, you’re afraid to even try.
Many shy people feel this way.
But the REAL problem is, this feeling is based on completely FALSE beliefs:
- That making mistakes or saying something “wrong” means people won’t like you
- That people won’t like you for who you really are
People make mistakes and reveal their true selves every day.
And y’know what?
They’re actually liked MORE because they mess up and reveal who they are. It makes them seem more human and real.
Plan to say something slightly embarrassing about yourself in a conversation. Something like how you backed into your mailbox recently with the car. Whatever…Nothing too serious.
The point is, you’ll prove to yourself (in real life) it’s ok to be vulnerable. That way you’ll feel liberated to be more outgoing and social.
This is a big one. Many who have trouble socially think:
- They have to be verbally smooth or work a room celebrity-style to be socially successful
- Being a social success means “wowing” everyone so they ALL want to be friends with you
That’s horrible (and exhausting just to think about).
It’s also not realistic, especially if you have a history of being shy. Expectations like these pile on too much pressure, causing you to shy away from being social.
Maybe for you, just talking to someone new is an accomplishment and that’s perfectly fine. Everyone is at a different level of ability.
Here’s an exercise next time you’re out and about:
Set a reasonable goal of new people you’ll talk to. So, if you usually hang out with only your friend(s), decide to talk to 3 to 5 new people/groups for the night.
After you’ve reached that goal, you’re free to bunker down with only your group as normal.
Here’s the key!
Don’t judge yourself on how well your interactions with those new people go. Only judge yourself on whether you reach your goal or not.
The idea is to grow a habit of talking to more new people when you have the opportunity. You can worry about getting better at conversations later.
Give It Time
So often we see others who are good socially and think we should immediately and automatically be smooth as they are.
It just doesn’t work that way.
So don’t be so hard on yourself if after a few attempts you’re not as social and adventurous as Anthony Bourdain.
After all, “naturals” were once awkward too you know. It just may have been when they were 3 or 15.
But, they got the luck of the draw and “mastered” being social as they grew up. Unfortunately, you and I didn’t.
That’s ok! It just means you need to practice now.
Little by little you’ll get better. As you succeed, you’ll grow confidence to be more outgoing which will lead to more social success.
Then, presto! You’re in a positive spiral of finding more friends.
And once you get to that point, you’ll never have to worry about belonging again. You’ll know you can fit in whenever and wherever you like.
What’s your take? What’s helped you to be more outgoing? Answer in the comments below.
(Image courtesy of Rob Ellis)