How to Overcome Social Awkwardness

It’s pretty common to feel socially awkward at times. Making conversation with strangers, trying to mingle, or going on a first date can all be really nerve-wracking! Learn how to keep your cool, make conversation, and be yourself when you’re out and about.

But even if your default mode is awkward, or you’re convinced you have a big problem with small talk there are ways to improve your social skills, keep your cool and be yourself when you’re out and about.

How can I feel more comfortable in social settings?
  1. Dive deep. Spending a little time learning more about social awkwardness might help you feel more accepting of this part of yourself. …
  2. Remember that awkward situations happen to everyone. …
  3. Face awkwardness head-on. …
  4. Practice interacting with others. …
  5. Try to stay present.

4 Steps to Stop Being Socially Awkward

Examples of social awkwardness

Here are some situations where you might feel socially awkward at work.

Running late

Running late can lead to socially awkward situations at work because you might feel less prepared and self-conscious for arriving after others expected you. You might feel especially socially awkward if you are late to a meeting or conference call. One of the best ways to approach this situation is to apologize for your tardiness and catch up on what you missed.

Forgetting someones name

Forgetting someones name can be socially awkward because many people expect you to reference them by name or you might need to introduce them to someone else. You can reintroduce yourself by saying something like, “I am not sure if you remember me. Im Celeste from payables.” You can also let them know that you are trying to improve your name recollection and ask them to reintroduce themselves.

Misspeaking

One of the most socially awkward situations is when you misspeak, especially if your statement seems rude. When this happens, you can try to redirect your statement into a compliment or offer a sincere apology. One of the key steps in managing socially awkward situations when you misspeak is to hold yourself accountable for your error and show that you understand how your comment might have affected the other person.

Having a difficult conversation

Difficult conversations, like having to reprimand or terminate someone, can be socially awkward. You may be uncomfortable delivering bad news or correcting behavior. An effective way to approach these conversations is to prepare beforehand and approach the conversation in an open, collaborative way. You can help the other person feel more comfortable by sitting down with them in a private setting, being honest and offering an opportunity for them to participate in finding solutions.

Asking for help

Asking for help can be socially awkward because you might feel vulnerable or self-conscious. You can minimize the awkwardness by approaching your colleague or supervisor with a list of solutions you have tried and collaborate with them on how to resolve your issue. You can emphasize that you are looking for their expertise and insight, which can show that you value their skills and knowledge.

Being asked overly personal questions

Overly personal questions at work can make you feel socially awkward because it may seem like the asker is prying or you arent sure how to answer appropriately. You can handle these situations by answering in a vague, but friendly, way. You might also be able to redirect the conversation away from the question or gently let the other party know that you arent comfortable talking about the subject at work.

What is social awkwardness?

Social awkwardness is a feeling that others dont see you as socially adept or that you arent meeting social etiquette guidelines. You might feel socially awkward in uncomfortable situations or if you arent sure how to approach a conversation. Some people experience social awkwardness because they are shy, find themselves in a new social situation or have to have a difficult conversation. You might also find that you feel socially awkward when you dont know the expectations, goals or etiquette of an interaction.

How to overcome social awkwardness at work

Here are some tips on how to be less socially awkward at work:

1. Plan what you are going to say

Many people feel socially awkward when they dont know what to say. If you need to have a difficult conversation, such as providing criticism to a colleague, you can help limit social awkwardness by preparing what youll say. Deciding what you want to say before the interaction can help you:

2. Use active listening skills

Active listening skills allow you to fully engage with a conversation. You can use active listening to avoid social awkwardness because it allows you to connect with the speaker, understand what they are saying and thoughtfully respond. When you listen actively, you show the other people in the conversation that you are invested in what they are saying and are interested in building a collaborative conversation.

3. Practice relaxation techniques

Sometimes, you might feel socially awkward because you are nervous. You can help feel more confident by taking a few moments to relax. Some examples of relaxation techniques include:

4. Determine why you are uncomfortable

One of the best ways to manage social awkwardness is understanding why its happening. Once you know what is causing your social awkwardness, you can take steps to minimize it. For example, if you are feeling awkward because you dont understand expectations at work, you can ask your supervisor for more clarity. If you are feeling shy, you can try connecting with one of your more social coworkers so they can help you integrate with your colleagues.

5. Find the positives in the situation

If youre feeling socially awkward, you can try to find the upsides to the situation. You can use humor to help ease the awkwardness or use the occasion as an opportunity to build a collaborative conversation around expectations and etiquette. You might also be able to use the socially awkward situation as a learning experience, where you get to know your colleagues better and gain a stronger understanding of others expectations.

FAQ

What causes Awkward?

Awkwardness can result from an unexpected conflict, an odd social encounter and/or an embarrassment. But if we stop for a minute and breathe, we might realize the discomfort comes from the unexpected sincerity of the moment.

How do I stop being awkward and cringe?

Here are some things to keep in mind as you try to make small talk:
  1. Make the person comfortable. Put the person at ease by smiling, not leaning in too close, and giving him all of your attention.
  2. Reveal something small about yourself. …
  3. Be a good listener. …
  4. Engage the person.

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