General Question

viainfested's avatar

How can I overcome being socially awkward?

Asked by viainfested (389 points ) January 29th, 2010

I’m always either at work or my apprenticeship, the people that I did consider friends act like I might as well not exist, and on top of all that I’ve been told that I’m very intimidating. So basically I suck at approaching people and I’m apparently very hard to approach.

I’ve been struggling with making new friends and communicating with people since I was in elementary school. I have no idea where to start or have any idea on how to go about this. Even when I contact people, they never seem to do the same back. Idk why, if it’s something I somehow managed to do or what. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

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114 Answers

12_func_multi_tool's avatar

Humor is good, so is asking question that do not require a one word answer. For Example: How was your day? it can be good/bad. But if you ask What exciting things happened to you today? They have to elaborate and mostly will feel that someone cares. In your humor it has to be not confrontational or aggressive. Your wit will sharpen with practice. Roles models are important; I think you should choose at least one from two categories. The first should be a real life person, imitate as much as you can without being too obvious. The second should be a sophisticated celebrity. Also watch news and sports, talking sports is a sure bet to extend conversations. Tune into C-Span sometimes, you will notice patterns to the rhetoric if you follow it mindfully. Lastly you must be discerning in words, does time allow for a conversation or just a quick hello, learn these peoples names and use their names often.

plethora's avatar

Stop taking yourself so seriously. Poke fun at yourself. If someone thinks you are intimidatiing, ask them why they think that and get details. How about the person who says that, Maybe they are intimated by everyone. Self-confidence causes all of these issues to resolve themselves, and you are not self confident. Figure out what it would take for you to be confident.

bean's avatar

just make stupid jokes, make fun of things, and don’t take things so seriously :D 
trust me… just doing some little things will make things easier, and is that you in your picture? you look no where near intimidating :P I have friends who look really agressive (doesn’t help when they try and dress up like they are a bunch of gangsters) but its really funny, because they are sweet, most friendliest people you could ever meet! and they are really caring… and when you first meet them, they make jokes and just act stupid and really nice :)

bean's avatar

I think maybe you are just quiet when you meet people maybe? if you are, people usually just mistake that for an attitude, but don’t worry, it happens, just try and make really small gestures, smile, wave (even if they are a metre away from you) it’s the most friendliest think you can do if you find it difficult to be the first one to make conversation. but don’t worry too much.

viainfested's avatar

@bean Yeah I am a bit quiet cause I usually can’t think of anything to say right of the bat. I rarely ever do small gestures either, and I always forget to just relax and have fun. None of these things tend to cross my mind because I worry so much, so thank you. :D lol

bean's avatar

@viainfested LOL really don’t worry, people do that all the time, I use to do it all the time! but I wasn’t seen as intimidating, because I was extremely quiet and just unoticable, but don’t take anything to heart, you seem absolutely fine, people just judge or take things differently, i’m positive, when they get to know you they wont think your intimidating anymore, and doesn’t matter if you can’t think of anything to say, it is hard when your nervous meeting new people, and I never relax either, i get nervous and scared most of the time. Just try and not think about anything at the time, and do as much small gestures as you can, because those really make the impression you want to talk.

viainfested's avatar

@bean I’ll definitely have to remember that. I think my biggest problem is worrying all the time about what people think, etc.

Jewel's avatar

Check out this site:
http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/mental-health-aspergers-syndrome
I had many of the same problems and only in recent years was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. See if this sounds like you. Do some research online. There is lots of info available.

bean's avatar

@viainfested haha, same! I have some problems thinking positive too, just try and stay positive, read some self help books…. even if it’s a bit too much for you, just reading about it can really boost some things about yourself and help with situations. and maybe sometimes saying “hi” or “how are you” and smiling will be really helpful!good luck!

viainfested's avatar

@Jewel hmm doesn’t sound like me. The only thing I really have trouble with is initiating conversation. :P

DrMC's avatar

It’s a matter of perspective. Once you accept yourself warts and all, you will no longer seek, you will be sought.

bean's avatar

@DrMC lol!!! that sounds so wrong, but you are so right

DrMC's avatar

er – I didn’t mean, eehh

bean's avatar

@DrMC lol i get what you mean, I totally agree!

viainfested's avatar

@DrMC whoa whoa. what? lol

DrMC's avatar

LOL – I was just typing – it’s fun to coverse with some – this builds your comfort and skill – join clubs etc with common interest, pursue higher eduction or learning to be with like minded people. The reason it’s uncomfortable is maybe there is nothing to say

DrMC's avatar

yuppers beaners I went through a shy phase, but i progressed to extreme social exibitionism

bean's avatar

@DrMC LOL  I liked your first comment, it sounded so dramatic and philosophic

hahaha ‘blablabla, they will sought you out’ then you dramatically leave…. leaving your most precious words of wisdom where ever you go lol

DrMC's avatar

it was even concise!

DrMC's avatar

I would say akwardness is brought about by pressure to achieve socially.

If instead you relax, and speak only when an opportunity to contribute jumps into your head…

DrMC's avatar

The problem is those little opportunities are like living beings with a mind of their own. They have to be corralled. Jokes are the worse, just jumping at the seams trying to get out

viainfested's avatar

@DrMC Well I love art, drawing, etc. Except very few can converse past… “Oh well… that looks cool… I like it.” Unless you know you draw a bag of dicks get a bunch of stickers made and throw one in front of them… that never seems to fail as a conversation piece…. :P

DrMC's avatar

Sometimes even songs want to come out. Then it gets tough – you begin to sweat…

DrMC's avatar

I dunno a bag of dicks might be hard to explain at church

bean's avatar

yeah, DrMC has some good advice, just expressing friendlyness is the best.

lol…. whats going on now? i’m way confused…. WHAT LOL

viainfested's avatar

Well I avoid churches so it’s all good. ha

DrMC's avatar

as Jeffer dahmer said to elana bobbit… Are ya gonna eat that?

DrMC's avatar

Damn, that one escaped

DrMC's avatar

beaner confused?

viainfested's avatar

alright well when someone asks you to draw a tattoo and you do it… then they say they’re going to pay you and don’t and they try to pull the same trick again… that’s when you bring in the bag of dicks.

bean's avatar

@DrMC LOL…... ya, way more confused now… with the tattoo thing
and who’s elana bobbit and Jeffer Dahmer?

DrMC's avatar

I remember once we had a final exam in anatomy, and each station was a cadaver with a string tied around an anatomical part. Some of the small parts were in cheap aluminum pie dishes. One station was a certain artery on the dorsal side of a willie.

One female student after the test said “You know it’s going to be a shitty test if your first station is a penis on a plate”

viainfested's avatar

I was just explaining the existence of the bag of dicks, since I brought up how it never fails with starting a conversation with someone… aka anyone. O__O

DrMC's avatar

Jeffery Dahmer very bad mass murderer homosexual who canibalized his lovers,

Elana Bobbit is famous angry wife why cut off her husband’s you know what for infidelity with a teenage girl.

Very famous in the 80’s and very dumb raunchy joke.

DrMC's avatar

I would say a dickbag prompt is likely to turn the conversation raunchy

viainfested's avatar

@DrMC ‘dorsal side of a willie’ well put. lol

DrMC's avatar

Aye capitan

DrMC's avatar

I can still see the test question in my mind.

viainfested's avatar

@DrMC yeah? what about this!?

http://tinypic.com/r/axkuf9/6

yeah I’m going there.

bean's avatar

LOL   jeeze! Jeffer Damher and Elana bobbit seem pretty freaky…. and that whole science class thing is just as gross -ew lol

when you say canabilized do you mean he….. he ate them? sorry, when i hear the word canabilized it sounds like a conversion to me

viainfested's avatar

we didn’t get way off topic or anything….

DrMC's avatar

@viainfested holy shit – didn’t know it was a cultural icon!

If I brought that home my wife would get distracted and lose interest in me ; )

DrMC's avatar

@bean sorry beaner – just my wicked sense of humor leaking out

DrMC's avatar

Um how did we go from awkward to mad penis science?

viainfested's avatar

@DrMC it makes a great bumper sticker….. especially for someone you don’t know. :D

DrMC's avatar

@viainfested LOL – by the way, that’s a nice katz. Mine is a tuxedo katz too.

viainfested's avatar

@bean because you can never have a boring conversation when someone whips out a bag of dicks.

@DrMC Haha and thank you! He is a ninja kitty… for serious.

life_after_2012's avatar

Picking your friends wisley is a very smart thing to do. I personally hate being wasting time on people that don’t care about anyone but them selves, but thats just a manifestation of my life’s experiance, hopefully you will never have those type of problems. take care and good luck to you, im sure you’ll figure it out and be just fine.

bean's avatar

@DrMC lol its ok…. still sounds kind of interesting like ‘the dark side of history’ kind of thing…. LOL what about bumper stickers? DrMC’s icon ye?

so yeah… how bout that social awkwardness…

DrMC's avatar

I would say you have to make genital jokes in the right company or it could get quickley awkward

DrMC's avatar

Me current icon is a spoof on socialism

viainfested's avatar

@DrMC I have dispersed 250 of them and things may have gotten a bit awkward with some… but laughter quickly followed.

DrMC's avatar

Lotza people here are liberals so it’s like wearing a “Fxxk You!” sign

DrMC's avatar

I think dick bags are your special contribution to the world.

viainfested's avatar

Someone had to do it eventually. :)

DrMC's avatar

Once you realize that you have something unique and rewarding (although a bag o willies is a bit unique-er than usual, mind you) then you’re on your way to self acceptance.

Just remember what your mom always said about that penny on the ground
“don’t put that in your mouth – you don’t know where it’s been”

DrMC's avatar

Where’s beaner? I feel abandoned already

bean's avatar

@DrMC lol sorry… I was still here, I was just so shocked i didn’t know what to say next I’m definitly thinking the bag is a guy thing….. i think…. it’s a guy thing right?

guy…. thing… ye?

DrMC's avatar

er – its vians way of starting a conversation. – look at the link way up above. It’s just a shocker basically. It was too much for you.

Pandora's avatar

I think its hard to tell without really knowing why they find you intimidating. If its a matter that you seem to perfect than that can be easily fixed a little by not being so perfect. The best thing to do is ask someone (not family) who seems to understand you the best and explain to them that you know you have some social issues and you would appreciate their input. Tell them that you want them to be candid because you desire to make real friends. Just telling them this will put you in a vunerable spot and they may be respond to you putting such trust in their opinion and will begin to see you in a knew light. Only careful to not look desperate for friends. That will be a big turn off. You can put it in a way where you mention you are looking to improve yourself and would like them to help you if possible. If they decline than move onto someone else. Usually a female will be kinder about it and may take you on as a pet project.

viainfested's avatar

@bean well it was for a guy, because he’s a douchebag so… yes, you could say it’s a guy thing.

DrMC's avatar

yup, a male might try to do male things if you get to talking about genitals

bean's avatar

@DrMC maybe D: hahahaha!nahnah, i’m good I can take on the bag, see me taking on the bag, i’m like man enough to take on the bagness

DrMC's avatar

I think a douchbag icon would be good ; )

DrMC's avatar

Holy FxxK beaner..!

bean's avatar

wait…. that didnt come out right… did it…. crap

viainfested's avatar

I have am done drawing dicks and anything of the like. One time thing, for humor purposes only.

DrMC's avatar

It’s ok, you let one escape – there there now.

DrMC's avatar

whoa, that was your art work vian?

viainfested's avatar

Yes, I did in fact draw that. lol Not really my style but ya know, I was angry… then couldn’t stop laughing as I was drawing it.

DrMC's avatar

wow, stay awkward, you are truely unique.

bean's avatar

i’m more confused, traumitized and grossed than i’d like to be….

but ye, stay unique lol !!!!

DrMC's avatar

Carry in you always a secret smile – store up your giggles.

viainfested's avatar

I just have a knack for drawing super weird things.
This one does not contain genitals. lol

http://tinypic.com/r/209hmvn/6

DrMC's avatar

crap, hands are hard to draw well – that one is good

bean's avatar

@viainfested your really good at drawing! I gave up ages ago haha, science became more my thing. but wow! i like

viainfested's avatar

I’m apprenticing to tattoo… hence why I asked advice on getting over being socially awkward. :P

bean's avatar

OMG…. OK…. now i get what you mean by the bag…. wow… go bean… i just had to go see that other picture…

bean's avatar

ok wow…. now i’m up to date with whats going on here

DrMC's avatar

as you work with people, you job will give you a social context to say and ask things. You will get past your uncertainty. As a boy I started in restaurants. At first I was nervous, within a year or two being surrounded by bad influences I was flirting with people twice my age, and striking up conversations with strangers. It’s a learned skill, and easier at work.

Your artistic talent however is what will be the focus. (its good by the way)

DrMC's avatar

LOL – state dependent learning

viainfested's avatar

better late than never. lol

bean's avatar

i’m not sure what this feeling is… it’s between crying and traumatized…. maybe a bit of both….. I’ll steer clear of any drawings for now…. you have really good skills by the way

DrMC's avatar

hopin ya feeling better beaner

viainfested's avatar

@bean ha thanks, i still have a lot to learn though…. after neglecting art classes throughout my school career. hopefully you’ll pick up drawing again eventually. tis a good time.

DrMC's avatar

My son wants to learn animie – he’s spread a bit thin. I never got back to it myself, but I taught my sons what I know

bean's avatar

haha anime! I use to draw that stuff all the time when I was in school, but the drawing is manga, and the cartoon is called anime…

DrMC's avatar

oh.. ; )

viainfested's avatar

Well I would like to thank you both for this ‘social awkwardness breakthrough conversation type thing.’ Definitely put me in a much better mood. :)

DrMC's avatar

I was depressed and working through it. I feel much better now that I got those dicks off my chest. ; )

bean's avatar

LOL….. hey!

DrMC's avatar

And I have to say I hope I never see a real bag of whillies like that – a tattoo would be ok.

DrMC's avatar

I need a new avatar – this one looks too threatening. maybe the grim reaper next ; )

bean's avatar

@DrMC that would be cool!!!! go grim reaper icon!

DrMC's avatar

will look – grim is one of my favorite personas

DrMC's avatar

gnight all

Fyrius's avatar

I’m with @plethora and @bean on the point of not taking it too seriously.
Many awkward situations will spontaneously stop being awkward when you decide not to make a big deal out of them.

Other than that, this is a project I’ve been undertaking for a long time too, with considerable successes, I think. I’m not there yet, but I’ve come a long way.
My approach is learning by imitation of good examples – look around and see what works well, then try to do that – and then just practising a lot. A good place to start is the anonymous internet, where it’s no problem if you say the wrong things and generally make mistakes. That’s where you can learn just to express yourself properly. But I think you’ve already got the hang of that part, because you started this thread.
Then you need to learn to use those talking-to-people skills in the real world. I use Omegle as an intermediate step for this; it’s still written and anonymous, but it’s chatting in real time, which comes a lot closer to actual real life conversation. It’s great for practising small talk anyway.
It’s also full of douchebags, but you’ll stumble upon interesting people eventually. Or you could find another chat place.

Fenris's avatar

Anxiety meds and etiquette classes. They’ve done wonders for everyone I’ve gotten through a program. Rebuild a strong foundation and the framework for more clear and enjoyable interaction follows. Shame for us Americans that most of the really flexible etiquette schools are in England.

bean's avatar

@Fyrius LOL I wasn’t been serious at all….DrMC new that hahahaha
we were just being silly hahaha

Fyrius's avatar

@bean
I was referring back to your first post way up there. I skipped over all the off-topic banter.

bean's avatar

@Fyrius ah ok, but that’s obvious, i’ve been in that situation and you dont mean to make a big… I didn’t make a big deal though, my feelings automatically go into nervous mode…. thats something I had to learn to control my self….

Fyrius's avatar

@bean
I think that means you did make a big deal of it, to yourself. Who would get nervous over something that’s no big deal?
I think peace of mind comes automatically with the ability to say “whatever” when that’s due.

bean's avatar

@Fyrius did you actually read my advice, or did you skip the part where I tell viainfested to not worry about it and just relax…. obviously your not suppose to make a big deal out of it, and your trying to say ‘don’t make a big deal out of it because then things are easier’.... are we agreeing here or are you just trying to attack my advice for no good reason? because we’re talking about the same thing…. so i’m really confused as to what your on about…
and obviously it’s difficult for some people because they my not be so confident as others, and obviously that’s something they are trying to control…. it’s not as easy as you telling people ‘don’t make a big deal out of it’

lovemypits86's avatar

i know exactlly how you feel. everytime i go some where i feel out of place and stick to myself i’ve had plenty of people tell me that i am hard to approach and that i’mintimidating but i’m not. i spend so much time between school and work that i really don’t have many freinds anymore so i’ve kinda have become a hermit crab and don’t bother trying to meet new people and if i do meet new people it’s my husbands friends that are in the navy and that gets old fast. all i can say is get out there and to be afraid to meet people and don’t worry about how they are going to view you. i’ve been seen as a bitch, intimidating, and hard to approach and it did bother me but not so much now i have better things to worry about and if someone doesn’t like me or isn’t intreasted in me that’s their problem.

Marva's avatar

Hi,
Communication skills are aquired @ the enviromnet of the family @ young age, try to look around, is anyone else in your family dealing with a similar problem? and if not, what differs their behavior from yours in company? if you find that most of your family memebers have a problem creating social connections, try and look around, what do other people do diffrent than you?
A lot of times, social issues are related to the way we “carry ourselfs”, people respond to who we think we are, do you think of yourself as “unimportant”? “nothing special”? “boring”? “just another person”? are you maybe very unconfident? or have a low self esteem? people tend to respond to that in feeling that there must be something “wrong” with you, it has a scientific explanation related to our animal instincts. If so, these could be major reason why you experience this.
I am willing to contribute a short exercise, that can help you focus your mind, mind-focusing is very important and can make a big diffrence when we are trying to achieve anything, as it is already known in science even, that our mind draws us to what we lay as a target:
Try and make a list of “who you are”:
write down 5 good qualities of you that make you a good friend
now write down 5 things that make you an intresting person
now write down 5 things you like to do that you can share with friends when you have them.
write down what kind of person are you and what do you offer to a frienship
write down what kind of people you can connect to and are good friends for you and why.
write down what kind of people can find you valuable.
if you are having trouble with any of these, and most likely that you will, dont give up, just allow this to remanin a question, write it down and keep asking it to yourself untill you find the answer from whithin, or understand it from looking around. and dont let yourself get away with less than 5 items per question, it is most often that not knowing our own value is exactly what leads us to social problems.
and most important: consider proffessional help, it is no shame to recieve help and grow from your problems. I suggest life-coaching, since this is my field of expertise, it had helped me a lot aswell and I deeply believe in it as a wonderfull tool to resolve issues, but there are other solutions such as psychology.
Good luck!!!

Fyrius's avatar

@bean
I think I explicitly said I agree with you on this, and with @plethora.

And then you mentioned not making a big deal of it, but still going into “nervous mode”. And I said that makes no sense to me, because becoming nervous is a result of taking something seriously.

And I suggest we don’t make a big deal out of this either.

jctennis123's avatar

Here’s a technique: agree and disagree with people. When you’re talking to someone try to both agree and disagree about 50% each with them. Mix it up, give good reasons though if you actually disagree. That way you aren’t mr. nice guy (who agrees with everything) or the jerk who disagrees with everything. And after I disagree with someone and they explain why, I ususally say something like “oh that makes sense, thats a good point” and it smooths over the fact i disagreed with them.
Another thing is this: watch tv. Watch how people act and make conversation. Obviously you want to watch the cool guys so you can become cool. I watched Jeff from the show community and I realized that he didn’t do anything or say anything that was cooler than me anyways. That gave me a lot of confidence.
Also just observe real life. The coolest people don’t do anything special they just always act natural. Forget about trying to be funny and interesting. Those are just byproducts of acting natural around people
Here are two websites I used to help me with my social problems. I’m now one of the coolest people I know. http://www.towerofpower.com.au/ (it’s a blog but the guy also sells a book called “big talk” which I HIGHLY recommend)
And this guy, Adam Lyons is one of the coolest people you will ever see. He gives dating advice but he is just so cool because when he was 15 he was voted ‘least likely to ever date’. Now he talks about social dynamics and he is really funny and interesting http://www.attractionexplained.com/

bean's avatar

@Fyrius yeah lol agreed!

Holden_Caulfield's avatar

Albert Einstein once said… Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results equals insanity. Take some time to look at yourself first… consider your behaviors and patterns, and see where you may be able to change them This is not to say that you are doing anything wrong, but rather, aligns well with the law of relationship dynamics: You cannot change other people directly. But indirectly, you can by making changes to yourself and how you relate. Just some food for thought, for what it’s worth. If this is important to you, then it is worth the consideration of making some personal changes within yourself.

ninjacolin's avatar

It takes Practice (and education) to overcome it. Without practice, you won’t overcome it.

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