How To Improve Your Social Skills (And Be Less Awkward Around People You Like)

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how to improve your social skills

I’m 30 years old. I have four groups of people I regularly hang out with. People text me constantly throughout the day. I get invited to parties at least once a week. Men are interested in me, but I lost interest in them for the most part. I am what many people would consider “popular” by normal standards.

However, this wasn’t always the case. In school, I was a social disaster beyond disasters. Nobody ever invited me to a party. I craved attention and sought it out in awful ways. My lack of social and communication skills, with my anger at people, made people avoid me. When I realized nobody liked me, I just began to bully and troll people, just to get a reaction. I was not only lonely; I was alone, and it killed me inside.

It was only during the later years of my college life that I realized that I needed to learn how to improve my social skills. With a lot of time, mistakes, and effort, I’m now the person who people call up when they want to go to a killer party.

Here’s how I did this despite “missing the bus,” and how you can learn how to improve your social skills, too.

1. Talk to people online.

The easiest way to meet people and get some semblance of discussion is to go online and chat people up. If it weren’t for the net, I probably would have been too far gone to actually collect myself after the sh*tshow that was my school life.

Assuming that you choose a halfway decent (read: not hateful or judgmental) forum, you will find people that you click with. These can become your friends, and you can talk to them all day long. If you really haven’t been with people much, this can allow you to learn how to hold a normal conversation. It also can bring you the confidence you need to talk to people.

2. Talk to strangers.

I know this is not going to be popular advice, but you have to actually talk to people IRL in order to get social skills. The best way to do this, from my experience, is to join classes that have interesting subjects, go to bars, or go to nightclubs. These places often have singles and groups of people who are there just to socialize. This way, you can meet new people and actually get used to talking to them.

One thing that really helped me was learning how to blend in with clothing. At the clubs and bars I go to, most people make a point of flaunting extreme fashion and hip hop sneakers. I wear the same, and that makes people click with you very quickly compared to how they’d act if you wear something that’s not appropriate.

Obviously, talking to strangers will also come with rejection. I’m sorry, but rejection is a part of life, and you will have to deal with rejection. Rejection will hurt, but socializing is often a numbers game. No one, not even the popular kids, is instantly accepted everywhere they go, even if it seems that way to you.

However, if you were in the same boat that I was in, it shouldn’t hurt as much as you’d think it would. After all, people already were rejecting you before. The only difference now is that you have a chance at finding acceptance elsewhere. Besides, you never know what will happen later on. A lot of the people who rejected me or even bullied me in the past have ended up coming around later on after they realized I wasn’t that bad of a person.

3. Once you start talking to strangers, make plans with them.

Be the one who first chooses to hang out with others! This is how you get friends who you can hang out with on a regular basis. Once you make plans, make a point of making it the best time possible and focus on your friend rather than yourself. This way, you’ll make sure that they want to chill again.

That being said, sometimes plans fall through. Don’t get discouraged if this happens. However, if the people in question reject plans three times or more in a row, it’s safe to say that they probably don’t want to hang out with you. Don’t scold them or blow up at them; just let it go and prioritize someone else. Chances are that they will eventually come around.

4. Stop trying to mimic people who are already popular. 

This was my biggest issue when I was in school. I saw that the cool kids liked things I hated or couldn’t afford, so I pretended to like what they liked, pretended to know inside jokes I didn’t, and even tried to talk in that weird Valley girl accent they had. At times, I even tried to one-up them, which only made things worse.

Looking back, I realized part of why they didn’t like me is because I wasn’t myself. I was trying to be them and it was painfully obvious that it was the case. Had I just tried to be honest with myself (and them), I probably would have come across as a lot more interesting and genuine.

You are not the people you are trying to mimic; you’ll never be them. The only person you can be is yourself, so try to be the best version of that you can be.

5. Consider getting therapy or professional help. 

Speaking as someone who had a lot of issues that revolved around the bullying, isolation, and rejection I faced at school, I can tell you that being alone messes with you. Even if you think you got out unscathed, you didn’t. Sometimes, just talking about your struggles with a therapist is all you need in order to center yourself and see people in a better light.

It’s also worth noting that some therapists can help you learn better ways to communicate, teach you how to be assertive, and also recognize traits of toxic people. If you struggle with how to improve your social skills, it’s a great way to improve them.

6. Read books on the subject.

I’m split on reading to improve social skills, but for the sake of this article, I’ll include it. Reading about how to do things will only go so far, but it can give you a great foundation to start on.

The truth is that there aren’t many books out there that teach you how to socialize or be popular, primarily because it’s such a “hands-on” learning issue. But if you find one, you might as well read it.

7. Remember that people aren't as critical as you think and that it doesn't matter if they are.

One of the most common issues I had was that I felt like everyone around me thought I was a freak. So, I tended to cloister myself and not talk to anyone near me. It actually took a lot of moments where people I thought hated me approached me saying that they want to be included in my plans to realize that I often came off as icy and mean.

Sometimes, the snooty girls who were “cool” in my eyes actually would make a point of telling me I was. But the more I talked to people and befriended others, the more I realized that the people who made a point of telling me I wasn’t wanted were only doing so because they were too insecure to be polite.

Eventually, I ended up feeling sorry for them and then realized that the people who were cool with me often were in way better positions than the people who rejected me. Life’s too short to get hung up on small people.

8. Lastly, remember that not everyone will like you.

A huge issue people who are just getting into the social realm have is that they think they can get everyone to like them. This is just not true, no matter who you are. Peoples’ taste in people is a lot like food. You could be an amazing pizza restaurant, but if they just aren’t fans of pizza, there’s nothing you can do to convince them to come to your door. This is okay, and it’s not your fault.

Overall, it takes a lot to actually make friends these days, but it’s worth it. Once you start having a social life, you’ll never want to go back to being a loner.

Want to learn more tips on how to talk to people? Check out the video below to improve your social life:

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