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How to Not be Awkward – A Guide for the Quirky Ones

Not everyone can walk into a room and be as poised and confident as they come. Some of us are just plain awkward. Here’s how not to be awkward.


Have you ever walked into a room and suddenly felt like every eye was on you? In that moment, you forget how to walk normally, and when you open your mouth, out pops the most absurd thing. It’s like your brain and body conspired to make sure you stood out for all the wrong reasons. Welcome to the world of feeling awkward, a place we’ve all visited at some point. If you’re looking for ways on how not to be awkward, you’re definitely not alone. After all, being a bit awkward is part of being human, but it doesn’t have to define your social experiences.

The Science of Social Awkwardness

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of how not to be awkward or the various strategies on how to stop being awkward, it’s crucial to understand what exactly makes us feel this way.

The science behind social awkwardness is as fascinating as it is complex, involving a blend of psychological, neurological, and sociological elements.

Starting from a psychological perspective, a significant factor contributing to feelings of awkwardness is social anxiety. This anxiety stems from the fear of being negatively judged or scrutinized in social situations.

It’s not just about feeling shy or nervous, it’s a more profound sense of apprehension that can make interactions seem daunting. This anxiety is closely tied to our sense of self-awareness. [Read: Signs of anxiety: How to read the signs ASAP & handle them better]

Sometimes, being too self-aware, or hyper-aware, can make us overly conscious of our actions and words, leading to that all-too-familiar awkward feeling.

On the neurological front, our brain plays a pivotal role in how we process social interactions. Brain chemistry and social cognition – how we perceive, interpret, and respond to social cues – are key factors.

Studies have shown that certain areas of the brain are more active in individuals who experience higher levels of social anxiety and awkwardness. This heightened activity can influence how we engage in social scenarios, sometimes causing us to misread cues or overthink our responses.

Then there’s the sociological aspect. Our environment and the cultural context we grow up in greatly influence our social interactions and norms. What’s considered normal in one culture might be perceived as awkward in another.

These varying norms can make navigating social landscapes tricky, especially in our increasingly globalized world. Societal expectations, too, play a role. When we feel pressure to act or communicate in a certain way, the fear of not living up to these standards can amplify feelings of awkwardness.

Awkwardness Checklist

If you’re not too sure whether you’re a socially awkward person, or if you often find yourself wondering how not to be awkward in social situations, recognizing some common signs can be a big help.

It’s all about understanding what happens inside you and how it might appear to others. Let’s look at these indicators – think of them as little flags that signal, “Hey, this might be awkwardness.”

1. Do You Find Small Talk Uncomfortably Challenging?

Small talk is a casual form of conversation, but for some, it feels like a steep mountain to climb. If initiating or maintaining these light exchanges often leaves you flustered or at a loss for words, it might be a sign of social awkwardness.

It’s not only about being shy, it’s about feeling overwhelmed by what many consider a basic interaction. [Read: How to make small talk & talk to anyone without feeling awkward]

2. Are You Often Unsure About When to Enter or Exit a Conversation?

Timing in conversations is crucial. If you regularly struggle with when to chime in or how to gracefully exit a chat without seeming abrupt or rude, this could be a sign of awkwardness. It’s like having a sense of being either a step behind or ahead in the rhythm of the conversation.

3. Do You Frequently Misinterpret Social Cues?

Misreading body language, tone of voice, or facial expressions can lead to misunderstandings. If you often find yourself puzzled by others’ reactions or missing cues on when someone is joking or serious, it could point to social awkwardness. It’s like trying to understand a language where you only know half the words.

4. Are You Overly Concerned About Others’ Opinions of You?

If the thought of how others perceive you dominates your mind during interactions, leading to anxiety and self-doubt, this may be a sign of social awkwardness. It’s a kind of self-consciousness that goes beyond the usual desire to make a good impression. [Read: 41 signs & steps to stop caring what people think & start living your life]

5. Do You Overanalyze Your Social Interactions Afterwards?

Do you find yourself replaying conversations in your mind, thinking, “I shouldn’t have said that!” or “What if I came across as too…?” It’s common for those who feel socially awkward to spend hours overanalyzing their words and actions long after a social event has ended.

If you often get stuck in a cycle of scrutinizing your past interactions, dissecting every detail, and questioning your choices, it could be a sign of social awkwardness.

6. Are You Overwhelmed by Large Groups or Crowded Events?

Feeling uncomfortable or anxious in large social gatherings, to the point where you avoid them, can be a sign of social awkwardness. It’s not just preference for solitude but an intense unease that crowds or big groups can provoke. [Read: Social anxiety vs shyness: 37 signs, differences & ways to overcome them]

7. Do You Struggle with Maintaining Eye Contact?

Eye contact is a key component of effective communication. If you find maintaining eye contact difficult, constantly looking away or down, it might signal social awkwardness.

8. Are You Frequently Misunderstood in Social Settings?

If you often find that people misinterpret your words or intentions, leading to awkward situations, this could be an indicator. It’s not just occasional miscommunication; it’s a recurring pattern where your attempts at humor, sarcasm, or even sincerity land incorrectly.

9. Do You Rely Heavily on Scripts or Pre-Planned Responses?

Relying on memorized scripts or rehearsed responses during interactions can be a sign of social awkwardness. It’s an attempt to control the unpredictable nature of conversation, but it often leads to stilted or out-of-context responses.

10. Are You Uncomfortable with Physical Gestures Like Handshakes or Hugs?

Are you uncomfortable with physical gestures like handshakes or hugs? Perhaps you’re familiar with that awkward, weird partial hug or the hesitant handshake that ends up feeling clumsy. This kind of hesitation or discomfort with common physical gestures in social interactions is often a sign of social awkwardness.

If you often find yourself in a tangle of arms during a hug or unsure of how firmly to shake someone’s hand, it could point to your struggle with these everyday interactions.

How to Stop Your Awkward Habits

While being awkward can be charming in certain situations, there are other situations where being awkward can make things so much harder for you – like when you want to pick up that hot person at the bar.

Lucky for us, being awkward isn’t something that we’ll have to live with forever. Most people outgrow their awkward stage by the age of 15, others keep that awkwardness well into their mid-twenties – or longer! If you want to ditch the awkward behavior and start being confident and assertive, here’s how to do it. [Read: Loosen up! Your complete guide to overcome social awkwardness]

1. Admit That You’re Socially Awkward

Don’t pretend and act like you’re not socially awkward. No, you sweating excessively every time you walk into a room is not a natural occurrence. It’s just time for you to admit this to yourself. But lucky for you, you can actually change it.

1. Be Sure of Yourself

A lot of a person’s awkwardness stems from being uncertain and shy. So in order to not be awkward, be more sure of your actions and be sure of the things you say. Don’t blindly comment on a topic that you’re uncertain of because if you’re wrong, it’ll be awkward.

2. Don’t Interject in Conversations Immediately

If you overhear a conversation and think you may have something to contribute, don’t just jump in and comment on it. You’ll not only interrupt the person talking, but you’ll also very distinctly announce your presence and that could be quite awkward.

Instead, slowly walk up to the group of people and wait patiently while the other person talks. If you still feel that your comment is relevant, wait for a pause and then say it.

3. Show Up to Events Early

There’s nothing that makes a person look more awkward than showing up to an event very loudly and after everyone is already there. The attention will immediately be placed on you walking through the door and create one big awkward moment – not to mention what would happen if you tripped!

Show up either on time or 10 minutes early to an event to ensure that you won’t be starting off the evening on an awkward note. [Read: The art of making small talk without feeling awkward all the time]

4. Keep Your Phone on You at All Times

A cell phone to an awkward person is a lifesaver. Not only will you be able to have an escape if you’re stuck standing there alone, but you’ll also be able to use your phone for new topics of conversation as well. It’s like a buffer tool between you and your awkwardness.

5. Figure Out What Environments Make You Socially Awkward

What environments trigger your social anxiety? Large groups of people? Small, intimate gatherings? You need to know the triggers so that you’ll know what you need to work on. So, the next time you’re out at a party or event, you can be self-aware of your body and mental state.

6. No One Actually Remembers

Okay, I know this sounds lame, but you have to understand that no one actually cares about what you have to say. Like, no one remembers that time you made some comment about Britney Spears’ music.

Unless you’re Obama, most people take information in one ear and out the other. [Read: How to make small talk without feeling awkward]

7. Don’t Aim for Success

Don’t try to aim for success. Instead, look at this as a learning experience for how to stop being socially awkward.

This isn’t going to be a one-time thing that you do once and then you’re socially in tune for the rest of your life. This is going to take a long time for you to develop.

8. Get Out of the Negative Loop

Being socially awkward is all a mental thing. You think you’ll screw up, say something stupid, and people will hate you – I know the whole thing.

But you’re going to have to get yourself out of that negative loop because it’s not working for you. Sometimes faking it until you make isn’t the worst thing you can do.

9. Write it Down

You can’t keep your feelings bottled up inside of you… you need an outlet. So, write your feelings down in a journal.

Before going out you can write down how you feel, and when you return home, write down how it went, what happened, etc. It’s a great way to later reflect on your progress. [Read: Socially awkward? Little hacks to loosen up and live life]

10. Practice

Yes, yes, yes. I know you have traumatic memories of your parents lecturing you about practicing your flute, but seriously, they were right.

You have to practice. So, ask your friends to bring you to parties or events. The only way you can practice is to actually go out.

11. Remind Yourself of Social Norms

If you’re freaking out about not meeting the social norms, well, how about you remind yourself of them. I mean, what is the right way to act at a party?

Of course, there are some basic rules like not to pee on the rug, so, if it’ll help reduce your anxiety, figure out what these rules are. If you feel that you broke them, just apologize… no one is going to kill you. [Read: How not to be awkward – A guide for the shy and quirky ones]

12. mLeave Your House

How can you practice socializing if you don’t leave your house? No, playing video games online doesn’t count. So, you need to make a vow to yourself that’ll you’ll go out to a function at least once a week. I don’t care where you go as long as you have to socialize.

13. It’s Not a Big Deal if You Mess Up

The thing about being socially awkward is that you’re worried about screwing everything up, and that’s why you’re awkward.

But listen, you’re not going to lose your job, your house, or your best friend. If anything, people will question what you just said and continue on with the conversation. You will live!

14. Don’t Tell Jokes to New People

While it may seem easy to break the ice with a good joke, you’ll more than likely only make things more awkward.

When you meet a new group of people, you never want to tell them a joke because you don’t know their personalities. You could end up offending someone or standing there laughing alone. [Read: How to be funny and make people love your company]

15. Stop Babbling and Ask Questions Instead

Over-talking is a common mistake that most awkward people make. Instead of talking someone’s ear off, ask them questions about the topic they’re talking about and listen to them talk instead.

16. Be Friendly!

People will forget all about your awkwardness if you’re friendly. Not only will it help people like you and ignore that part of you, but being mean can also induce a ton of awkward moments between you and other people. So always be pleasant! [Read: Little things you say and do that’ll make everyone love you instantly]

17. Forget About Your Awkwardness

Nothing is going to make you feel or act more awkward than you thinking that you’re being awkward. Funny how that works, isn’t it? So forget about the fact that you’re awkward and go be yourself.

18. Think About Positive Aspects of Yourself

Dwelling on the negative awkward tendencies you have will only make matters worse. Instead, think about all the great qualities you have to offer people. You’re smart, funny, and kind – all of which stand out more than your awkwardness.

19. Let the Awkward Silences be Silent

Don’t be that person who breaks the awkward silence – especially by pointing out that it is, in fact, awkward. Just keep your silence instead and wait for someone else to bring up a new topic of discussion. You’ll take any awkward attention off of you and the transition will be made much easier.

20. Stick With a Non-awkward Friend All the Time

Do you have a friend that is confident and seems to never have an awkward moment? Then stick with them as much as you can. Not only will they make you seem less awkward, but they’ll dissipate any awkward moments you have with their charm.

21. Don’t Worry About What Other People Think So Much

Stop worrying about how awkward you’re being and what other people think of it! As long as you’re happy with who you are, it doesn’t really matter what other people think.

Being self-conscious is only going to add to your nervousness and heighten your awkwardness. So forget about what other people think and just have fun being you. [Read: 20 signs you’re a people pleaser and don’t realize it]

22. Keep Personal Information About Someone to Yourself

Being awkward also tends to go hand in hand with remembering too much personal information about someone. Do you remember someone’s birthday but haven’t spoken to them in 10 years? Then just keep it to yourself.

If you know someone is dating a person and it’s really none of your business, don’t bring it up in a conversation with a lot of people around. It makes you look creepy and will induce an awkward moment.

23. Embrace Funny Awkward Moments

Not every awkward moment you have is going to be so debilitating that you want to crawl into a corner and never see the light of day again. Some of your awkward moments are going to be funny and might even make other people laugh.

Finding the charm in your awkwardness will not only allow you to let loose a bit, but your personality will shine more and you’ll be more confident in yourself – which reduces the amount of bad awkward moments you’ll have. [Read: Why guys like shy girls and find them incredibly attractive]

24. Allow Yourself Room For Error

A lot of error. Like, it’s been years, and I’m still saying and doing things that make me cringe. It’s just life, it can’t be perfect.

So, go easy on yourself and praise yourself when you tell a joke or make a friend. Those are the moments you should focus on. [Read: Why introverts are much more than just shy and awkward]

25. You Don’t Have to Do it All at Once

Don’t put this pressure on yourself that you have to do everything right now. Work in baby steps, because it’s much easier.

Make short-term goals for yourself every time you go out, and then slowly build upon them. You don’t need to master the art of socializing all in one night. If you put that pressure on yourself, you’ll flop.

26. Laugh at Yourself

If you don’t laugh at yourself, you’ll never know how to stop being socially awkward. Listen, you’re going to make mistakes, like telling a failed joke or give a weird reply. It’s normal. But, in those moments, you just have to laugh at yourself. It’ll help you put things into perspective. Laugh and learn.

27. Practice Makes Perfect

You can’t stop being awkward overnight. It’s a personality trait of yours and it might just take some time to rework your brain to hide those awkward tendencies. So you need to practice, practice, practice.

[Read: How to care less – Powerful ways to stop giving a damn what people think]

Being Awkward is Kind of Charming!

Being awkward isn’t the worst thing in the world – it’s actually kind of charming! However, if you want to be less awkward and more confident and fun, this guide will help get you there. Embracing your quirks is important, but knowing how to navigate social situations comfortably is equally valuable.

Improvement takes time and practice, but with perseverance, anyone can become more adept in their social interactions. Keep these insights and tips on how not to be awkward in mind and step by step, you’ll find your way to a more confident and engaging social presence.

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Natasha Ivanovic
Natasha Ivanovic is an intimacy, dating, and relationship writer, and the creator and author of her short stories on TheLonelySerb. She completed her first degr...
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