Connecting with people and cultivating relationships is something that makes life more enriched and interesting. It's also quite a challenge for those on the introverted side of the sociability spectrum. Below we have some gentle ways to get yourself to be more social in a rewarding, healthy manner.
1. Find Social Opportunities You Look Forward To.
Because the world is built for extroverts, many social engagements may not be right up your street. Being socially active is often superficially assumed to mean that you should be going to clubs and dancing the night away, but this is not everyone's jam.
Think about the topics, activities, or things you care about are and choose activities that let you engage with these passions and like-minded people who share the same interests. If you love animals and want to engage with them more, find out about volunteering programs at local shelters.
If you have a particular social cause you are invested in, seek out groups who meet to discuss what can be done to support this issue. Even if you simply love your indoor plants, there are online groups that you could connect with and potentially meet up with who would share your passion for indoor flora.
2. Take It Slowly.
If you haven't been actively socializing for quite some time, don't try to jump into all the events you think you may be interested in at the same time. Set a small but manageable goal for yourself to connect with other people. If you start by simply attending a single monthly meeting with a group focused on a topic of interest for you, you will start chatting with the attendees and finding people you connect with well in that circle.
If you are already out and about quite a bit but don't often engage with people, try setting small goals of asking people about their day or themselves in some way to start conversations. Small displays of interest in others and polite small talk are great ways of easing back into more social situations. After interacting with people in a light manner, you can choose who you feel more connected with and try to invest a little more time and energy.
You could start by asking more personal questions and sharing more about yourself too. If you connect well, you may find an activity that you would enjoy doing together. Just remember that this process will take time, and there is no need to rush to form a bond with anyone. Take it slow and steady to win this marathon because healthy connections with people are not short sprints and are more like lifelong efforts.
3. Show Interest in Others.
Being social can make you feel like you need to be the most interesting person in the room to survive. This isn't true. It's also not true that the loudest person in the room is the most interesting either. If you want people to enjoy speaking with you, show interest in others first. Actively pay attention to what they tell you.
If you listen to understand, not just respond, you will ask more questions on the topic, and the conversation will flow naturally. Remember to still share relatable things about yourself in a conversation and to give the other person a chance to ask you questions in return.
If you view conversations in this way and actively show curiosity without judgment for others, people will enjoy speaking with you and will become curious about you due to your attentive listening skills.
4. Invest in Existing Connections.
Often being social is perceived to center around meeting new people and being confident enough to walk into any room and start a conversation with someone new. This isn't the only part of sociability that matters, though. If you want to be more social, but the idea of going out to meet new people is too daunting, rather look at your existing relationships to see who you could invest more time in or reconnect with.
Often busy people end up disconnecting from relationships due to the relationship fading away over time. It's not easy to maintain, but it's a very rewarding experience to nurture long-term relationships throughout one's life. If you decide to reconnect with someone who has known you for a long time, it can also lead you to meet other people.
This is because spending more time with those you already know in social settings will let you meet other people they know too.
5. Take That Class You Always Wanted To.
There are always skills we dreamed of having, and yet never took the leap and developed. Sometimes this can be out of a lack of finances or time, or it can be due to fear of failure. Taking the step to invest in yourself is a great way to build up confidence and a new skill set.
It's never easy to take on a new challenge, but the most interesting people in the world all have that in common; they took on great challenges. Whatever you want to learn, be it playing an instrument or learning a language, satisfying your dreams and learning the skills you always wished you had, is a fantastic way to meet like-minded people who share the same interest as you.
It's also a great way to build your confidence and collect more interesting stories in your life. By doing challenging things, we learn more about ourselves and the world around us. It helps us develop more empathy for other people who are also struggling with something, and it can help us learn valuable skills other people find interesting.
6. Work on Your Small Talk Skills.
Small talk can get a bad rap sometimes because it can seem pointless talking about the weather or how slow the train is running today, but small talk is the small step that needs to be taken for far deeper conversations to ever be possible. To make yourself and your conversation partners feel more at ease, and therefore likely to spend more time speaking to each other, work on the small talk topics and questions you feel comfortable with.
It's also an important step in deciding whether you like the person you are speaking to from more than just the superficial assumptions we can make from someone's appearance. You can tell if a person is open and friendly or perhaps closed off by having a bit of small talk. You can also probably detect if the person can become mean or hostile by their attitude and manner of speaking.
To start developing your skills here, focus on amicable questions like "What drew you to the line of work you are in?" or politely chatting about events happening in the location you are in. A good topic to avoid is someone's appearance, which is a little too personal for most first-time encounters. Common topics like the weather, the place you are in, or the late public transport you are waiting for are all fair game, though.
7. It's Not Just About Other People Liking You.
We often get caught up worrying about other people liking us and trying to find ways to impress other people while completely forgetting the most important part; whether or not we like them. It's not a one-way street in any relationship, and you should never be the only one seeking approval in any social situation.
By remembering that you get to decide if you like someone too and that you must also decide whether they are worth your time takes a lot of pressure off your shoulders. This is especially true if you are a bit of a people pleaser. Social situations can be exhausting if you feel like you have to constantly work for other people's approval and find ways to make them like you.
Holding onto your natural right to decide whether or not you like them can prevent you from wasting your energy on second-guessing everything you do and let you invest your energy in having a good time.
8. After Leaving Your Comfort Zone, Return For a Refill.
Generally, those who struggle with socializing are on the introverted side of things, which means our alone time is precious. It's not just precious because we enjoy it, but because it nurtures us. Introverted people love to delve deeply into our world, our interests, and our own company.
If you feel these statements resonate with you, remember to come back into your comfort zone after adventuring out of it to refresh your emotional and psychological energy reserves. If you balance your need to spend time in your own company with the relationships you want to forge in your life, you will be more energized to give 100% when you are in social settings because you refueled before.
Biologically speaking, the heart has to feed itself before it can feed the rest of the body, and this is true for people too. Make sure you feed your own heart and mind before you try to feed other people's souls.