Learning how to be more social requires mastering socialization skills. Socialization is the process of learning societal norms and values. The following five steps will help start the process of becoming more social.
- Identify what is holding you back from being more social.
- Understand the social role you want to play.
- Learn how to recognize social cues responses.
- Mentally prepare yourself prior to social engagements.
- Be persistent and consistent in applying what you have learned.
The process of increasing social activity requires an understanding of a person’s role in society. When looking at how to be more social, one key lesson to learn is that there is no single way to behave. Instead, there are roles and rules of socialization that change based on various factors.
A great way to start being social is to find the engagements you are more comfortable with and build your confidence within them. From there, you can branch out into other scenarios, learning the social ropes as you go.
The following tips will help demonstrate how to be more social and increase social activity.
1. Understand the reasons for socialization
There are three main reasons for socialization. Firstly, understand that socialization teaches skills. Passing down social skills and appropriate behavior are crucial to survival. For example, early humans needed to develop social skills in order to transmit warnings of danger, coordinate during a hunt, and pass down general knowledge. Secondly, understand that socialization creates a sense of self. Socialization helps individuals establish their interests, beliefs, and aspirations. Meeting new people exposes people to new experiences and can change their beliefs and outlook on life. Thirdly, understand that socialization creates a sense of community and develops culture. Socializing reinforces social norms and acceptable behaviors, such as knowing when to speak and when to listen.
The reasons why we socialize change, but the crux is that we need to share information. Socialization is necessary for developing social skills, establishing an identity, and combating loneliness through social connections.
2. Know how to start a conversation
Knowing how to start a conversation is the backbone of being more sociable. Starting a conversation helps to communicate needs and coordinate with others to accomplish tasks together. Moreover, it creates opportunities to meet people you otherwise wouldn’t, thus opening the door to even more social interactions. Below are five great ways to start a conversation.
- Ask Questions: Asking a question is one of the best and most straightforward ways to start a conversation. It introduces you as a social person, which will also aid in future conversations. Asking questions also demonstrates that you value the opinions of others.
- Ask for Help or Advice: Asking for help is another excellent way to be more social. Not only does it open up a conversation, but it shows that you value being part of a group. Requesting advice also indicates that you are humble enough to accept external input.
- Introduce Yourself: If you want to be more social, you need to make sure others know who you are. Introducing yourself to new people is a great way to start a conversation and build your confidence.
- Wait Your Turn: Knowing when to listen and when to take your chance to speak is important. Doing so at the wrong time could stop a conversation rather than start one. Similarly, knowing when to jump into an existing conversation demonstrates patience and confidence in equal measure.
- Be Empathetic: One of the most critical social skills is empathy. When others are speaking, show that you care to hear and consider their words. Doing so will help people feel you are relatable and trustworthy, allowing them to open up to you more quickly.
Beyond merely being more social, knowing how to start a conversation helps establish your place in the social hierarchy. It enables you to keep involved with your peers and ensures you listen out for opportunities that would otherwise pass you by.
3. Know how to listen
Knowing how to listen involves actively processing and participating in a conversation. To know how to listen requires critical social skills and takes constant practice. Active listening is necessary to become more social because it helps people learn about the people they interact with. For example, listening to someone finish talking allows them to vent and express themselves. Knowing how to listen before you speak shows that you’re ready to actively engage in what someone has to say. Another example of exhibiting good listening skills is making eye contact. Eye contact is a physical indicactor that you’re paying attention.
Active listening is a necessity for becoming more social and lets you better identify different social cues. The better grasp you have on these cues, the more successfully you can apply active listening skills in future social interactions.
4. Do not hesitate to compliment
Social people do not hesitate to compliment others. Something as simple as giving a compliment is a great way to expand your social skills. Firstly, compliments make people feel good. A good compliment can offer congratulations on a job well done or praise a person’s clothing styles. Secondly, compliments are positive. Positive interactions are key to being more social and compliments start conversations on an optimistic note. A good opening compliment praises a person without judging permanent features, such as complimenting a person’s favorite restaurant. Thirdly, compliments build trust. Do not hesitate to compliment people because it can help people open up and express themselves. Complimenting a person’s possessions elicits follow up questions and helps strengthen bonds
Compliments make others feel good about themselves and they remove hesitancy and risk of negative interactions. However, some people struggle to accept compliments, so practice this social skill first with people you know well.
5. Feel involved
Feeling involved means tapping into community networks and leads to being more sociable. Participating in community events is a way to meet new people and discover more about yourself. An example of community involvement is volunteering for a charity drive. The sense of purpose reduces anxieties about social obligations. Another example is waving to a neighbor. Without talking, you can use eye contact and body language to non-verbally participate in a social interaction.
To feel involved in public spaces presents new and exciting ways to be more social. For those lacking social confidence, the inability to expand on socialization and react accordingly is a driving fear. But the more you can improve your sense of involvement, the easier and more enjoyable social occasions will become.
6. Talk to strangers
Talking to strangers is the process of interacting with new people. Interacting with and talking to strangers is necessary to become a more social person because friends begin as strangers. Talking to strangers includes having a conversation with a new neighbor or store clerk. Making contact with a new person opens up more opportunities to socialize with that person.
Unlike with people you know personally, strangers have fewer preconceptions about you, removing stigma and social pressure. The lack of stigma allows you to be yourself more comfortably. Moreover, making a habit of talking to strangers gives you plenty of opportunities to explore your natural social role. This makes it easier to re-enter your existing social circle with a greater sense of self-confidence.
7. Use courses, classes, and education
Using courses, classes, and education is a great way to learn how to be more social. Social skills education is especially important for people who struggle with casual social settings such as with friends and family. Courses can take place online or in a classroom. Classrooms offer common ground that is interesting to talk about with strangers and acquaintances. However, social bonds also form online. By picking a course or education pathway that interests you, there will be opportunities to meet like-minded people within those courses. Your common interests can be through training sessions at work, athletic practices, motivational lectures, cooking classes, or anywhere else learning takes place.
In an educational setting, you will have a running dialogue and interaction with your lecturers and fellow students. This is a great way to practice being social in a less personal environment without focusing on you as the individual but on the subject you’re all studying.
8. Understand when you need help
Understanding when you need help is part of becoming more social. Learning how to be more social is not something you can do alone. Sometimes, you need to ask for help. If you struggle and want to learn how to be more social, look to your friends or family for help. For example, ask them for advice or have them support you at an upcoming social event. Having a friend critique your social skills or offer their support can give you a necessary ego boost. Alternatively, have them help by taking the lead to provide social lubricant to ease you into the engagement.
Having an ally who understands social situations inside and out can be invaluable. In addition, their presence alone can act as a considerable confidence boost.
9. Be kind to yourself
Be kind to yourself to become more sociable. Kindness is necessary to social growth because it strengthens our sense of self. There are three examples of being kind to yourself. Firstly, be kind to yourself by practicing self care. Self care consists of pampering yourself, listening to your favorite music, or treating yourself to your favorite meal. Secondly, be kind to yourself by investing in yourself. Investing in your interests consists of going back to school or purchasing materials for a hobby. Thirdly, be kind to yourself by practicing self gratitude. Self gratitude helps cultivate kindness of self by reminding us of small elements of life that we are thankful for.
Being kind to yourself is necessary to avoid antisocial thoughts making their way to the forefront of your mind. You can learn to be more social with self care, self investment, and self gratitude.
10. Meet people with the same interests
There are three benefits of meeting people with the same interests. Firstly, meet people with the same interests to bond over that interest. Having a shared interest guarantees at least one subject to talk about. Secondly, meet people with the same interests to practice reciprocity. Reciprocity is the process of exchanging things for mutual benefit and a common reason why friendships form. Thirdly, meet people with the same interests to learn about new topics. Finding out you share a common interest can develop into a chance to learn something new from a like-minded person.
Meeting people with the same interests is necessary for healthy socialization because it satisfies our alleviates social pressures and provides real connections. So, whether it’s video games, sports, books, or movies, engaging like-minded folk makes it easier to be more social.
11. Find connections with other people
Find connections with other people through genuine interactions. Social connections are necessary to be more social and remembering past conversations and making plans for the future creates a lasting bond. Connecting with other people contributes to socialization by cultivating an environment where true friendship can develop.
Repeated exposure and shared experiences are the key ingredients to forming lasting connections. Whatever the case, do what you can to enhance the scope of further engagements with other people you connect with. It takes effort to find connections, but learning how to be more social is valuable for combating loneliness.
12. Imagine yourself as a social person
Imagine yourself as a social person to learn how to be more social. Manifesting the traits you desire help bring them to the forefront of your personality. For example, imagine yourself as the life and soul of the party. Even if you don’t want to be social on that scale, you are setting the foundations for change by imagining yourself as a social person. Moreover, positive self-visualization is a potent tool for silencing your inner critic. That negative voice saying you’re not cut out for socializing is usually irrational. Instead, imagine how you’d lead a team or make someone laugh. If you create emotional room for yourself to succeed, you’re more likely to do so when the opportunity arises.
13. Practice being more outgoing
Practicing being more outgoing requires stepping outside of your comfort zone. Like any learnable skill, becoming more outgoing requires constant practice. Even if you fail, set your resolve to continue trying, chances are good that you are going too hard on yourself anyway. While social interaction is a primarily organic affair, that doesn’t mean you can’t do some prep work before heading out. For example, you can practice your greetings aloud, reflect on your body language in the mirror, or even just hold a conversation with your cat about the weather.
Practicing being more outgoing gives you a baseline of social interaction to fall back on in case you get nervous. Practice makes perfect, and the more you practice being social, the more natural it becomes. Eventually, the practice will become part of reality, and socializing will become less daunting.
14. Memorize universal questions
Memorizing universal questions will take the guesswork out of becoming more social. Even the most general questions lead to fascinating conversations. Moreover, asking thoughtful questions taps into common human experiences and gives people a chance to practice active, empathetic listening.
Below are five universal questions to ask.
- What is your favorite movie?
- Who is the most famous person you have ever met?
- What is your best personality trait?
- What is your favorite song?
- What is your favorite time of year?
15. Understand how friendships start
Understanding how friendships start is necessary for being more social and consists of three paths. Firstly, friendships start as acquaintances. Close social proximity to other people is a common way friendships start because people are more likely to cross paths with mutual friends. Secondly, friendships start through reciprocity. Reciprocity is a critical component of socialization because it demonstrates a positive give and take. Thirdly, friendships start because of self-disclosure. The more comfortable a person is the more they typically reveal about themselves. Self-disclosure is the revealing of information about the self.
Understanding how friendship starts contributes to socialization by helping people engage acquaintances, reciprocate positive behavior, and open up to other people. Embrace the fact that you will be naturally drawn to certain people with whom conversation is easier and more comfortable than others.
16. Don’t be afraid to speak your thoughts
Don’t be afraid to speak your thoughts and be your authentic self. Try to avoid censoring your thoughts just to impress people who might otherwise disagree with you. Voicing your opinion is a great social boost, as it helps attract like-minded people to you while filtering out the rest. Moreover, disagreement can actually be a constructive jumping-off point for further conversation. Speaking your mind is daunting, but it is one of the best ways to inject yourself into an existing conversation. Be tactful and respectful, and don’t use your viewpoints to attack or belittle others. Generally speaking, allowing yourself to speak with conviction offers fertile ground for building connections with others.
To learn how to be social you can’t be afraid to speak your thoughts. Having open communication provides an opportunity to be free of inhibitions.
17. Do not force yourself to always say yes
Do not force yourself to always say yes to learn how to be more social. Saying no is necessary to maintain a sense of autonomy. Trying to be more sociable does not mean agreeing to every social engagement. Even the biggest extroverts will say no when things don’t suit them. Struggles with social engagements lead to a sense of guilt attached to saying no. Phrases like “I should have gone” or “I need to stop being so antisocial” tend to linger on your mind and drag you down in future social interactions.
Being more social means not forcing yourself to always say yes is a vital tip because having a sense of self makes for well rounded people. Well rounded people have more opportunities for social interactions.
18. Improve your self-confidence
Improving self-confidence is the process of building up an individual’s opinion of self. Confidence is necessary for being more social because it helps reduce social anxieties. By improving your self-confidence, you will find the prospect of injecting yourself into social situations less overwhelming. There are three examples for improving your self-confidence. Firstly, improve your outward appearance. The traditional advice is to work on your physical fitness or style to remind yourself of your positive qualities. Secondly, focus on your intrinsic value. Your intrinsic value lies within the positive aspects of your life. To focus on your intrinsic value, engage in activities that you are good at, or feel good about, and practice positive affirmations. Thirdly, don’t let your inner critic hyper-focus on where you fall short. Failure is the best teacher, so view it as an opportunity to improve your social skills. Self-esteem exists in a positive feedback look, so have faith that you are worthy of good things.
19. Talk to an expert
Talking to an expert can help people learn how to be more social. An expert is necessary to deconstruct a problem and apply rational thinking to combat perceived failures. Therapists, coaches, and counselors provide an impartial sounding board for unpacking complex topics. In addition, they have the training to inject objectivity into seemingly subjective scenarios and can provide you with tools and tactics to become more social and well-adjusted.
Talking to an expert can also help you understand your power over social experiences. This valuable, healthy lesson will put you in the right headspace for social encounters.
20. Be more relaxed
Being more relaxed means exhibiting a carefree attitude that will help you socialize by exuding positive energy. Deciding to be more relaxed in social situations is easier said than done, especially if you’re an introvert. It can be difficult to relax even in situations where you ought to feel comfortable. There are three ways being more relaxed contributes to socialization. Firstly, by acting as a reminder that you’re not alone in having social anxiety. Choosing to be empathetic towards other people and keeping universal struggles in mind quiets antisocial thoughts. Secondly, by encouraging a healthy lifestyle. Eating well, exercising, and practicing meditation help people remain calm and stay healthy. Thirdly, don’t force a social exchange. Being more relaxed means learning to let go or allowing yourself to step away to gain composure.
Being more relaxed is necessary for becoming a more social person because a cool disposition is inviting. You can be more relaxed by abandoning preconceptions of other people and respecting yourself. Remember that you are your worst critic, and any mistakes you make are usually far less visible to others than to yourself.
What are the features of socialization?
There are three features of socialization. Firstly, socialization is a continuous process that is both formal and informal. People socialize throughout life and their reasons for socialization will vary depending on necessary formalities. Secondly, socialization reaffirms social norms. Features of socialization help pass down and reinforce social norms and behaviors. Thirdly, socialization requires basic discipline and behavior control through society. Features of socialization form a foundation of should and should not be done during social interactions. These features impact personal identity and the process of learning appropriate social norms, values, and behaviors. Features of socialization make people happy by providing a basis of appropriate behavior and healthy social activity.
What are the reasons for anti-socialization?
There are four reasons for anti-socialization.
- Genetic conditions: There are several genetic conditions or predispositions that can make someone anti-social, such as depression or impulsivity.
- Childhood abuse: Growing up in an abusive or neglectful home makes it hard for people to appreciate spending time with friends as they grow older.
- Brain damage: Damage to the brain can cause anti-socialization. If damage to the prefrontal cortex of the brain occurs, antisocial behavior may follow.
- Personality type: There are sixteen different personality types as identified by Carl Jung and later categorized on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (“MBTI”). Eight of these personalities are introverted, and eight are extroverted. Those who are introvert-dominant will naturally shy away from large social gatherings and interactions.
Is social isolation a health problem?
Social isolation is not a health problem, but it can lead to the development of health problems. There are three health problems that can arise from social isolation. Firstly, cognitive decline. Social isolation leads to a loss of both social skills and cognitive abilities. The ability to listen and hold conversations fades away from those that isolate for too long. Secondly, depression. Long-term social isolation damages mental health which can lead to self harm. Thirdly, unhealthy habits. Social isolation leads to unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking, and a lack of physical activity.
Should everyone be social?
Everyone should be social, whether they are an introvert or extrovert. Some find socialization energizing and consider it an easy task. Others find it draining and need to isolate to recharge their energy. However, socializing is integral to who we are and how we identify within society. Research shows there is a link between cognitive function and social interaction. Studies from the Gerontological Society of America States show that women with a solid social identity have a higher chance of living beyond age 85.
What are the socialization stages?
There are five socialization stages that start at birth and continue through adulthood, evolving in complexity and importance. Below are the five socialization stages.
- Oral Stage: The oral stage covers the first year of a child’s life and features attachment to parental figures and the use of crying to communicate. Socialization has limitations during the oral stage because children are unable to control speech and other functions. However, children develop core socialization fundamentals during the oral stage.
- Anal Stage: The anal stage continues for two years as children gain control over their bodies and bodily functions. Children start to learn how to communicate with words and begin to develop primitive social skills. Children in the anal stage also learn the difference between right and wrong and the concept of punishments and rewards.
- Oedipal Stage: The oedipal stage is a fundamental part of social development spanning from three to thirteen years. People start to learn about the social hierarchy and the value of socialization. In the oedipal stage, friendship groups take shape and people begin to move into adolescence.
- Adolescence: Adolescence is a critical stage of social development. People start to form lifelong friendships and romances. In adolescence, social engagements increase and confidence is built which helps young people be more social as they shift into adulthood.
- Adulthood: Adulthood is the final and longest socialization stage. People take everything they learn during the first four stages and apply it to the broader world. Adulthood requires differing levels of social interaction and learning socialization skills from stages 1-4 to increase social activity.
How to improve social skills?
There are five key ways to improve social skills.
- Start small: Starting with small bouts of socialization can ease anxieties about becoming more social. Keep social engagements to a minimum until social anxieties are forgotten.
- Be kind to yourself: Having a positive opinion of yourself makes you more inviting to other people. Negativity can be off-putting.
- Build positive relationships: Positive relationships will help improve social skills by allowing for worthwhile social engagements.
- Remove yourself from toxic relationships: Avoiding and removing yourself from toxic relationships leaves room for positive relationships. Removing toxic relationships also helps with being kind to yourself.
- Don’t be afraid to say no: Objecting to situations you disagree with helps cultivate a positive sense of self and reinforces positive relationships.