Social Question

MilkyWay's avatar

What makes a person 'sociable' or 'unsociable'?

Asked by MilkyWay (13157 points ) March 3rd, 2012

Was wondering what characteristics make a person either a sociable being or an unsociable being…

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21 Answers

Sunny2's avatar

You’re hard wired with some personality factors and your family reinforces them. You can work to change how you react if you want to, but not everyone values sociability.

cazzie's avatar

I just saw a really good TED talk about the virtues of introversion. http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts.html

MilkyWay's avatar

Thanks guys :)

Coloma's avatar

Yep, usually it is the introvert/extrovert continuum.
I’m an extrovert and extroverts are energized by socializing while introverts tend to feel drained. lol
Really, as always, it’s about balance. I socialized yesterday, am waiting on a friend coming over right now and have plans for dinner company tomorrow, then, I will go into my hermit mode for a few days.

Even extroverts need solitude. :-)

ddude1116's avatar

I think it depends on how inviting your personality is, rather than introversion or extroversion.

I know people who are definitely extroverts, because they try to be social, but they have the most awkward personalities, like they have no sense of what it is to be normal or acceptable. And I don’t mean lightly, as in the cases of mild eccentricity, like Martin Sheen in Badlands where he was a strange guy but he could at least manage in conversation and pull it off as just quirks, even the cops arresting him befriended him. I’m talking about the people who can barely function, the ones who say the wrong things at the wrong times and never realize it. But then, I know people who are definitely introverts, who are the coolest people when you’re on a subject they enjoy and are familiar with. They just only speak when it’s relevant for them to, and that’s perfectly acceptable, they have friends and they get along fine.

I think what makes a person sociable or unsociable is how well they get along when they’re engaging socially, and not how often they engage socially, for everyone needs alone time, just some need more than others.

wundayatta's avatar

I think it has to do with desire to socialize and social skills. If you have a desire to socialize, you will eventually learn the skills you need to do it well. Most people are introverts, and a large portion of them learn social skills over the course of their lives.

I just asked a group of friends how many were extroverts and how many were introverts. There were probably ten people in the room, and only one considered herself and extrovert. Yet most of the rest had very good social skills and most everyone would have thought they were extroverts based on their behavior.

People think I’m extroverted, on occasion. I can be outgoing under specific circumstances. I can be pretty outgoing on fluther, for example. I can also serve as an MC at a gathering and look and feel totally comfortable. It’s be decades of learning and practice. It did not come easily. But now that it is here, there is nothing I enjoy more than lighting up an audience.

Well, actually, there is something I like more, but nothing I like more outside the bedroom!

Earthgirl's avatar

I don’t think it is only the characteristcs, or personality traits that make a person more or less sociable. It can have to do with goals that are important to you. Say you have a passion for teaching. You just know that is what you want to do with your life. Yet you are shy and cannot imagine yourself getting in front of a classroom and speaking to a group of students. You might give in to your fear or confront it. The more passionate you are the more motivated you will be to overcome your fear and be more extroverted and sociable.

Another example: You want to start a business and you need to pitch it to as many people as possible to get it off the ground. You force yourself to be as sociable as possible. Maybe it comes easy to you because you’re an extrovert and you love networking, but if not, you push yourself to do it because your desire is strong to achieve what you want to achieve and you know it is necessary to socialize to do it.

Those examples are business related of course but there are many other goals, a little less tangible perhaps, that push and motivate and energize people to be more or less sociable.

Friendliness, openness, helpfulness,and curiosity are characteristic of sociable people. They ask lots of questions because they want to know more about the person they are talking to.

People think of extroverts as being more sociable and liking people more but I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I think extroverts are more comfortable socializing in large crowds than introverts are. Introverts prefer one on one conversations and smaller groups.

Coloma That’s interesting that you have a flurry of social activity and then need your solitude. The common conception of extroverts that I am familiar with says that extroverts are actually energized by being with people while introverts are energized by having their alone time. So I guess that isn’t completely true. I suppose we shouldn’t group people into these 2 categories at all. It’s a helpful construct, but there must be people of all degrees on boht sides of the continuum.

Coloma's avatar

@Earthgirl Agreed, however, I’m also an middle aged extrovert, my hardcore always ” on” days have balanced out. My wick is half burned. lol

DaphneT's avatar

I know plenty of people that psychologists would categorize as extroverts who are unsociable. These are people who haven’t learned any manners or behaviours that are respectful of other people. The sociable people are listeners, learned, considerate, thoughtful, courteous, respectful, exercise self-control, have self-understanding, are able to hold conversations without dominating, are able to assess the social setting and act accordingly.
Of course all of the above is only relevant if that is the social structure of the community you are in. If your community’s social structure does not value these things then practicing them would make you unsociable. Other examples, if your community socialized in a pub and you didn’t drink, then you would be considered unsociable by the community members. If your community socialized by attending weekend performances and after performance parties and you didn’t, then you would be considered unsociable. If your community valued strolls through the neighborhood, and visits on the front porch and you didn’t get into the practice, you would be considered unsociable.
Many people have extreme difficulties today because of the need to be social with the work crowd, the family crowd, and the neighborhood crowd. For many, these are three distinct groups of people with distinct social practices and they do not overlap. Exhausting. Which leads to people being labeled as unsociable.

Earthgirl's avatar

DaphneT That is really insightful. GA

To a certain extent, to be sociable requires being socialized.
To be socialized involves a certain amount of conformity.
I think in the US as a culture we admire extroversion and forceful personalities. If a person is just quiet or averse to hanging out in big groups they can be labeled as unsociable. This is so wrong. Because we all know that to be unsociable is considered bad.

You define what it truly means to be a sociable person here:
“The sociable people are listeners, learned, considerate, thoughtful, courteous, respectful, exercise self-control, have self-understanding, are able to hold conversations without dominating, are able to assess the social setting and act accordingly.”

Of course this is not the usual understanding of the word sociable but I think this is what it really should be!
Differing work, family and neighborhood social structures are exhausting to me! I never thought of it that way. I think it’s a lot easier for some people to adapt to the different structures than others.

Coloma's avatar

I just read a great article on “Conversational narcissism” and this has always been one of my pet peeves. People that dominate the “conversation”, interrupt, we can all be guilty of this once in awhile, but chronic is bad and rarely inquire or ask questions of the other person.
Infact, I just confronted someone I know about his hardcore domineering style the other day and he apologized profusely. It had to be done, the guy is a walking Mr. Microphone and I think he just likes to hear himself talk. lol

He doesn’t have conversations he takes hostages. Gah!
The entire premise of the art of conversation is to move beyond after the initial, basic “catch up” of the parties involved and elevate the conversation to talking about ideas!
I consider myself to be insightful, respectful and always up for taking a conversation to a more global level. Talking about books, films, ideas, world events, going beyond our petty daily laments.

Good conversation and social skill takes practice, and few are interested in practicing IMO.

Earthgirl's avatar

Coloma I wish I could have heard your conversation in that confrontation! I work with someone just like that and I have been avoiding telling her off because I’m afraid of what I might say if I finally lose it one day and do that. I know I should do it when I’m calm, but I avoid it because I hate confronting people. Meanwhile, I suffer because she gets under my skin so much with her overbearing behavior. I try to assert myself and not let her talk over me and then she gives me this look as if I am the rude one!

Coloma's avatar

@Earthgirl I had suffered through several one sided monologues with this guy, who fancies hmself an authority on everything. He completely bulldozed me again last week and I let him have it!
He is a conversational bully, everything is a debate. I was extremely firm and more than assertive, I told him exactly what I thought of him.

His constant elevating himself to teacher, guru, life coach, psychoanalyst position. His arrogance, his pouncing, twisting and distorting of every word I speak. It was great! He called me on his cell a few minutes after I slammed my door in his face and I have never had anyone kiss my ass the way he did. haha

I’m still high on it. You have to stand up to bullies, but in the workplace it is very difficult. This person is a friend/aquaintance, and boy did I let him have it, he was distraught that I might withdraw my friendship ( strictly platonic ) and promised it will never happen again. We shall see, proof is in future dialogues. I call him ” Drillbit Taylor” and told him he can go drill someone else as I won’t tolerate his arrogant narcissism.

I also told him I felt like hitting him in the head with a rock. lol
He got the message, loud & clear.
Bully be gone!

Earthgirl's avatar

Coloma Ah sweet victory! That must have been something to see!!! I love it, the details of your diatribe are magnificent!

In my own case she bullies me and then makes me out to have anger issues when I react negatively. She is one of those people who are always right. My latest approach is to not respond to anything she says. She hates being ignored because she loves to fiight. She wants to prove she’s right all the time. I have tried to tell her things about office poitics to help her out and she accused me of “lecturing” her. So now, no more advice. And no more sympathy either. You make your bed, then you lie in it. Because I talk to her less now she acts like I am unsociable. So be it. I don’t give a fig! But I should be more assertive. I know this is a negative way to handle it but anger short circuits my verbal ability and I end up saying things all wrong so I continue to bite my tongue and try not to let her get to me.

Coloma's avatar

@Earthgirl Classic hardcore narcissist, always right, the need to “win”, dominate. Yes, just ignore her, it will threaten her fragile psychic existence. They need a constant mirror, positive or negative. Take away the mirror and their reflection evaporates. Vampires have no reflection remember? lol

Earthgirl's avatar

Coloma So true! She certainly has no ability to mirror herself! She is the least self aware person that I ever met!

Coloma's avatar

@Earthgirl P.S. I entertain this great little fantasy that makes me laugh to myself. Wouldn’t it be great to carry around a spray bottle and blast obnoxious people in the face like a cat on the counter? lololol I swear, one of these days I just might do it! Pfffft! Could you imagine their shock! haha

john65pennington's avatar

It has to come from their genes.

DaphneT's avatar

@Earthgirl, if this person is simply a co-worker and not a direct boss, next time you have to deal with her, pull out your pocket mirror and hold it up for her to look into.You could say “Let me know when you are tired of talking to the person in the mirror, and I will be happy to help you.

Another option is to simply ask her if she enjoys being a conversational bully, using your calmest, sweetest, most gracious voice. Be direct and gracious at the same time.

You could also evaluate her strengths so that you can insert a compliment about them into the conversation as part of your contribution, something like A you are so smart about that, I’ll really take your words into consideration and thank you so much I really do have to complete my work on time so please excuse me while I get on with it. From there you can successfully ignore her because it would be rude for her to continue to compromise your productivity.

Also keep a record of your encounters with her, and if she sees it, you’ll be able to say that you are keeping track of who you allow to monopolize your time so that you learn where to cut back to improve your own productivity. If she doesn’t see it and still continues as a problem, you’ll have something to discuss with the manager if you need intervention assistance.

smilingheart1's avatar

So interesting! Agree that the core tendency is inherent within us. We need our temperaments to be as they intrinsically are to fulfill the purposes of our lives. For example artsy people need a lot of introspection time to let their creativity out. As do philosophers, spiritually focused folks etc. Gregarious people are energized by interacting. They often love to-be on the go. Most of us sir somewhere in the middle sometimes thinking we are socialites and sometimes just want to travel inward for bits of time.

mattbrowne's avatar

The capacity for empathy.

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