8 Simple Life Hacks For Socially Awkward People

These are the ones that I’ve learned, and they’ve saved my behind quite a bit.

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I have a very strange irony going on in my life.

On one hand, people tend to know me for having salient social commentaries and observations about the dating scene. On the other hand, I struggle with social interactions on a daily basis and am constantly trying to overcome being socially stunted.

Due to a long series of events that should have never happened to my sorry a**, I’m socially "slow." 


I may or may not be on the spectrum, too. (People have frequently suspected me and I have a developmental delay diagnosis, but the actual Aspie diagnosis never happened. Take from that what you will cause I don’t know what to make of it.)

One thing that helps me out is learning simple, easy-to-follow hacks that improve communication. These are the ones that I often rely on.

RELATED: 5 Most Socially Awkward Zodiac Signs, According To Astrology


Here are 8 simple social life hacks for socially awkward people: 

1. Use the “if you or Terry Crews did this” test to find out if someone’s acting out of line with you

If you’re like me, you struggle trying to figure out if you’re being unreasonable or if others are just being awful to you and expecting you to take it.

It’s a by-product of being abused and being in our absolutely messed-up society.

My trick is simple: When I feel like questioning myself regarding someone’s behavior towards me, I ask how I would feel doing the same s*** to them. Or, how they’d feel if Terry Crews did that to them.

If I’d feel grimy or if I would feel a serious blowback from others, then I know I’m seeing a double standard.


If they would probably flip out or cower at a large man doing what they’re doing to me, then I know they’re out of line.

For example, let’s say that a guy is hitting on me after I mention that I’m taken — a clear sign that I’m not okay with this. The guy balks when I ask him to stop or starts calling me unreasonable. I question myself because I was taught to submit to guys as part of my abuse.

Then, I use my trick. Would I ever be okay pursuing this? Would people be calling me names or berating me? If Terry Crews was trying to hit on him mercilessly, would he start crying?

If so, then this guy is way out of line and deserves to be called out.


2. Avoid putting people in the spotlight by reframing a problem as "us versus the problem"

Do you ever have a person who gets on the defensive when you complain about something, even when it’s not their fault? Then you have to deal with them refusing to work with you or shutting down?

Some people just won’t accept accountability at all and shouldn’t be bothered with it.

However, in some cases, you might be putting people on the defensive by accident or just making them upset. It’s best to make a point of taking the heat off what they do or don't do in these cases.

What does this mean?

  • Tell them, "I’m not mad at you, I’m mad at this problem." Sometimes, people need to hear this — even if it’s not true.
  • Ask them, "How can we fix this?" This automatically puts someone on your team and in your corner.
  • If you need to, argue while holding hands or sitting next to them. This helps them feel like they’re not being accosted with accusations.

RELATED: 8 Ways To 'Read The Room' When You're Feeling Socially Awkward


3. Be upfront when people make you uncomfortable or hurtful — but walk when you know they’re doing it on purpose

People often don’t know how they come across, especially if you’re not dealing with someone who’s neurotypical. In some cases, people know when they are crossing boundaries and are banking on you to say nothing.

Calling out behavior or saying the impact that they’re having on you can make people stop in their tracks. That’s precisely why psych ward doctors are told to tell people one of these phrases:

  • "You are scaring me." If you feel physically threatened, say this phrase.
  • "Please stop, you’re making me uncomfortable." Repeat this when people get too touchy-feely. If they balk, just keep saying, “This makes me uncomfortable,” and exit the area.
  • "The stuff you’re doing doesn’t make me feel safe/welcomed/okay." I find this to be a good way to shut down people who claim “It’s just a joke.”

If you notice that their behavior hasn’t stopped, it’s time to cut contact. Blocking, deleting, and ghosting the person is usually the smartest way to do this.

If you have to explain why, such as in a professional setting, say these phrases:

  • "I don’t like the way you make me feel." If you’re ready to sever ties with someone and they’re trying to argue their way into staying in your life, use this phrase. Keep repeating it until they leave. It is the fastest way to end the conversation.
  • "I’ve repeatedly told you to stop this behavior and have expressed that it affects me in a bad way. At this point, I no longer feel comfortable continuing this relationship." A lot of people only will take you seriously if you openly call them out on it. Go figure.

On a similar note, if you were rejected by someone for a date and they still want to be friends, it’s okay to say that you’re too hurt to continue the friendship for the time being.

4. Ask open-ended questions when you’re getting to know someone and ask follow-up questions

When you first start bonding with people, it’s easy to start talking at them rather than to them.

The thing is, no one likes to be talked at. They want to be talked to. They want to have people ask about them.

There are several ways that you can connect with people through questions. These hacks help me learn more about people:

  • Ask what they do for a living, then ask how they got into that field. You will be able to learn about their passions, what they do, and a little bit about their life.
  • If you’re in a workplace area, ask them to teach you a new skill. This is a great way to make sure that you get a mentor. Epic win!
  • Ask them what their hobbies are. You may end up finding a lot in common. Even a simple remark about a favorite television show can be enough to bond with them a bit.

5. Pretend that people are already your friends when you first meet them

Did you ever notice how people who feel like they’re not part of a group get treated that way? Especially if you’re like, the weird kid who’s just staring at a group that they want to join. (I’ve been that person.)

I learned that the easiest way to get new friends is to act like you’ve met them before.

This is particularly easy to do in a nightlife setting. I’ve actually made lifelong friends by just running up and greeting people who I mistook for others.

One time, I got into a club and randomly joined a group of people because it was some guy’s birthday. I was like, "Wait, it’s your birthday?! What are y’all doing? Let’s get lit!" then I bought everyone shots of absinthe.


That guy still comes over to my place and talks to me on a regular basis. Actually, I’m still in communication with that entire group. All it took was one night of partying it up and buying a round of shots.

RELATED: How To Make Friends As An Adult, According To 22 Experts

6. Avoid dead parties by having people come by to help set up

I’ve had quite a few parties where no one showed up. It sucks.

I learned that if one party doesn’t have many attendees, people might not show up for the next one. So, you need "social proof" to make sure that you can offer a good time.

How does social proof work? It’s simple. You have to have other people there as a guarantee.


There are several ways to gain social proof in your group of friends:

  • Ask at least four people to help set up. I generally will use this as a gauge to see if I should even bother throwing a party with a specific group of people. If I can’t get at least four "helpers" to help arrange balloons or DJ, I just drop the topic of a party for that weekend.
  • Do post on social media about the party. This is something I learned from my party promoter friends. Amping it up as the biggest thing ever will make people more intrigued about going.
  • If your party involves reservations, verbally communicate with everyone beforehand. Emphasize that you’re doing this so that you don’t spend money you don’t need to spend.
  • Learn to bar party. Having a party at home risks no one showing up. Having a giant meetup at a bar will make it look like you’re just hanging out with buds if almost no one shows up. Bars are the best party venue.
  • Recognize when people are showing you they’re awful. When I moved into my apartment, I invited everyone from work to my house as a housewarming thing. Not one person showed up. I’ve also had people call to ask who’s attending, then not show up. These are not people you want in your house. They don’t see the value of you. Blackball them from future events.

7. Remember that "like attracts like" for friends and relationships

I learned that people tend to gravitate toward people who look like them and act like them.

In my case, I dress funky but tend to act corporately. While I do party, I’m all about making projects, doing things that are career-oriented, and learning.

The thing is, we choose our friends based on who we want to be and who we are. What does this mean?

  • A lot of people, but not all, will not befriend people who don’t dress like them. Clothing sends a certain signal to people about both your socioeconomic status and your values. That’s why you don’t see guys looking like Jed Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies hanging out with Jay-Z.
  • People tend to back away from people who don’t match their energy. If you are too formal in a casual setting, people will not trust you. If you are too aggressive in trying to befriend or date someone, they will run the other way. Match their energy. Heck, if you want good results, try mirroring their gestures and more.
  • People want to date someone who they are proud of being with. If you want to be treated like a dirty little secret or get ignored by everyone, then by all means, look terrible and don’t improve yourself. If you want to have people approach you or be amenable to your advances, be someone you’d want to date.
  • If you improve yourself and change your priorities, your friendship circle will improve too. There’s a reason why isolation tends to bring leveling up. People want to be around the idealized version of themselves — or at the very least, the right people tend to want to be with upward-mobile people.

8. When all else fails, just tell people you’re socially awkward and to not take it personally

I’ve gotten into the habit of being upfront about my awkward side.

I’ll straight up tell people, "Listen, I’m very socially awkward so if I stop talking or asking questions, just fill in the blanks and I’ll listen. It’s not me checking out of the conversation — I do like you. I just am awkward and don’t know how to bond well."

Believe it or not, people appreciate that level of candor. And it is honest. And if they are the type of people who get it, it gives them a good idea of how to handle you as a person.

RELATED: 15 Ways To Improve Your Social Skills (And Be Less Awkward Around People You Like)


Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer whose work has been featured in Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, Newtheory Magazine, and others.