The sweaty palms and nervous laugh – no, you’re not drunk, you’re just socially awkward. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you become less awkward.
There is another world out there. Trust me, I know. When I used to be introduced to cute guys, I would stutter, avoid eye contact and excessively sweat – it wasn’t pretty. Really, not a good look for me. But that doesn’t have to be you – please, don’t let that be you. It’s going to take some elbow grease, but in the long run, you’ll be able to talk to anyone without breaking a sweat.
How to be less awkward
You might not believe it, but you really can be less awkward- you’re not doomed to a life of social anxiety. Here are some tips for being a social butterfly.
#1 Don’t go for body contact right away. If you’re not comfortable with giving hugs or shaking hands, then just don’t do it. Trying to force yourself to engage in body contact will show that you are nervous. And you want to look less awkward – not more!
If you’re hesitating while reaching your hand out for a handshake, they may think that maybe you have taken some drugs or are going into shock. No one needs that trauma, so let’s keep it a clean night.
If you want to say hi and can’t decide whether or not to fist bump them, I’ll just go ahead now and say not to. This isn’t 2008. Just keep your hands to yourself if that’s the road you’re going to go down.
However, if you’re determined to shake someone’s hand, remember, you’ll need to engage in eye contact and lock that in before extending that beautiful arm of yours. And then, give a firm shake – none of that weak wrist crap. [Read: 10 subtle body language moves to appear way more confident]
#2 Show up on time. If you’re going to a dinner party or event where there’s mostly people you don’t know, I suggest showing up on time. Most people will come in late, but it’s much easier to be introduced to people in the beginning of the party rather than when everyone has already met each other and have had a couple drinks.
If you arrive early, you’ll also get to choose where you’ll be sitting, which is much better than being squeezed in at the end of the table.
#3 Keep your phone on you. I know I shouldn’t be encouraging technology when at social gatherings, but your phone may come in handy. If the party isn’t going well, rather than you just standing there alone, I recommend you going to talk to someone.
However, if you’re not in the mood, just take out your phone. It may help you get through an awkward and uncomfortable moment without you looking like you’re going through an awkward and uncomfortable moment.
See? Brilliance! You can also use your phone to share things with other people you’re talking to. Maybe there’s a funny YouTube video that you were talking about – show it to them. Basically, the rule of thumb is: when in doubt, use your phone. [Read: 12 easy ways to avoid a first impression catastrophe]
#4 Ask questions. If you’re not great at small talk, that’s okay, I’m not a fan of it either. If you have a tendency to babble on about something *like me with politics*, then let the other person talk.
It’s much easier to listen, and it doesn’t take as much energy. If someone is talking about their favorite video game, ask them, “What goes on in the game?” And there goes thirty minutes, just like that. Once you start becoming more comfortable, you can share your opinions and stories. [Read: The art of making small talk without feeling awkward]
#5 Keep on going. If you think you screwed up a conversation with someone, who cares? Don’t let that hold you back. You have to keep going if you want to be less awkward. Go find someone else to talk to or take a break for a bit. But whatever you do, don’t let it discourage you.
Do you know how many failed conversations I’ve had? Let’s not keep count! The point is, I remained positive, took another drink *which may have been my downfall* and I kept going. Life’s too short to think about embarrassing moments or social interactions that took a weird turn. Keep moving forward. [Read: Loosen up! How to avoid being socially awkward]
#6 Don’t make jokes if you’re unsure of how the person might react. If you can’t see what sense of humor the person you’re talking to has, don’t rush into making any poop jokes. Take a couple of extra minutes and feel the person out.
When I was socially awkward, I would say some jokes that were definitely not appropriate. However, I found them funny, but 99% of the other people did not. Feel the mood out, and then you can test the waters with some light jokes. Just don’t get into the Rated-R stuff until after midnight.
#7 Be friendly. Smile. Laugh. But don’t do the creepy smile that doesn’t come from the eyes. And don’t laugh like a Hyena – unless that’s your natural laugh. Be happy and be positive! However, don’t be disingenuous.
Friendly, happy, and smiley people attract others. Why? Because who doesn’t want to hang around people who make you feel good. Listen, you’re at an event, so there’s probably free drinks and some snacks. Why wouldn’t you be in a good mood? Grab a beer and a handful of chips and just enjoy the moment. They say “fake it ‘til you make it.” However, people can feel if you’re really trying to force it. [Read: How to talk and network at a party like a seasoned socialite]
#8 Don’t focus on what they think about you. I was never good at this. In fact, when I thought someone was judging me, I would make a constipated facial expression which really entertained others, but did wonders for me looking less awkward.
However, you really need to take this point to heart. You cannot focus on what other people think about you. Because if you do, you’ll never be able to progress and move out of the awkward phase. Be yourself and if someone likes it, they like it. And if someone doesn’t, well, they’re lame. [Read: Motivational tips and tricks for shy people and introverts]
#9 Let the awkward silence take its course. The worst thing you can do is to try to make an awkward silence less awkward. Let the awkward silence take its course. You don’t always need to be doing the talking, nor do they. At some point, the conversation will hit a wall unless this person is of the opposite gender. And in that case, it may hit the bed instead.
But, if it hits a wall, there’s nothing wrong with taking a break to go get a drink or going to talk to someone else. You can always reconvene with them later. This is usually my pee-break moment. Works like a charm and relieves the bladder – a true win-win.
#10 Have more face-to-face conversations. Practice makes perfect. You need to get out more and talk to people. Anyone. Walk your dog and talk to your neighbors. Just get used to making small talk with people you don’t know. If you don’t feel like it, then hide behind a bush until your neighbor gets into their car. However, at some point, you’re going to have to talk. [Read: 18 insightful and harsh truths why you don’t have any friends]
#11 Take a breath. Before answering a question right away, relieve the pressure by using this age-old trick. Breathing. Take one deep breath. Think about what you want to say, and then say it. This will help lower your anxiety and get your point across – without you stammering or nervously spitting on their face.
#12 Be prepared. If you’re going to a party where you know it will be mainly consisting of gamers, then maybe take a couple of extra minutes to research some upcoming video games.
Do you care about video games? Probably not that much. Do you want to survive the party? Absolutely. So, if you’re nervous about who’s going to be there, take some time and develop a basic knowledge about some topics that you’ll be able to talk about.