Not so social!

By Maria Shirazi
Tue, 11, 17

If social interactions don’t go for you as well as you would like to, then you might be socially awkward. You! takes a look...

If social interactions don’t go for you as well as you would like to, then you might be socially awkward. You! takes a look...

Do you trip over your words often, feel anxious and struggle to find the right words to say in a social setting? If most of the times you tend to put your foot in your mouth during conversations, you should be asking yourself: “Am I socially awkward?” 

But what is social awkwardness? Basically, socially awkward persons possess a set of distinctive traits and lack social skills. Some of the traits include:

Feeling nervous in social settings: The typical socially awkward person doesn’t feel comfortable in social situations. They are anxiety producing. This is one of the main factors that often make them behave in weird ways around other people. Nervousness leads to a creepy behaviour, and realizing that your demeanour is creepy creates even more nervousness - it is an ongoing negative cycle.

Not understanding social norms: Usually, in a social situation, a socially awkward person doesn’t know what is appropriate to do and what’s not. They don’t know how to start a conversation, what topics are best to talk about etc. Obviously, this lack of understanding can lead to either weird or shy behaviour.

The lack of conversation flow: Everybody has conversations that don’t flow, have awkward silences or end abruptly. But for socially awkward people, this is the rule, not the exception.

Their conversations are habitually like a rough wagon ride on a bumpy country road.

Frequently being avoided or ridiculed by others: If others actively try to dodge interactions with someone, or they often mock them, they probably see that person as the weirdo of a group.

The lack of meaningful connections with others: Since they struggle with making conversation, feeling at ease around others and expressing themselves effectively, socially awkward people typically lack strong connections with others. They generally have few friends and a very small social circle. And they tend to spend a lot of time alone.

Let’s overcome the awkwardness

If you have a loved one or friend who is socially awkward then it can have negative impact on his/her life. Here’s how you can help them to deal with this issue effectively and lead a happy life...

Include them in your group: If you have some decent interpersonal skills yourself, and likely a good group of friends, the most helpful thing you can do is include your more awkward friend in your social life. Hang out with them one-on-one. Invite them out with your mates when you all get together. Bring them along to many of the fun get-togethers you go to. The main benefit is that it provides them a space to naturally practice and develop their people skills. If they are hanging around a bunch of people who are socially savvy, they will certainly learn a lot. It also boosts their self-confidence as they feel that they are part of a crowd that likes and accepts them.

Build up their confidence: To a very large extent, social awkwardness is produced by shyness and anxiety in social settings. When one is anxious, one tends to stumble, bumble and fumble around, and thus ends up embarrassing oneself. The fact is that shy and socially awkward people are very hard on themselves. They often ignore their own good points, and can sometimes see themselves as being universally flawed. What you can do to help is to give them genuine, sincere compliments and slowly increase their self-esteem. Of course you don’t want to be fake. But make sure to compliment them if they do something that stands out.

Modelling behaviour: Modelling good social skills will profoundly affect your friend. Show them what good social behaviours and attitudes look like. Let them see what it looks like to be light-hearted and easy going. Let them see how you make conversation with people you have just met. Model how it is okay and important to be comfortable with yourself, and to open up and share your flaws and vulnerabilities at times. Your friend could make a mental note and use the same methods in the future.