Well, what a year! Hopefully, the time is now upon us in which we’ll be replacing questions like ‘what day is it?’ or ‘when did I last wash these?’ with ‘shall we meet up for coffee?’ or ‘do you fancy a walk in the park?’
Now many of us, myself included, may be feeling a bit nervous about this. Socialising is not always easy for everyone and, given that we’ve been locked in for the best part of a year, the very thought of socialising might even be exhausting in itself.
Therefore, to help you get back into the swing of mingling, we’ve prepared a go-to guide featuring 7 ways to make social interaction just that tiny bit easier.
Before we get started though, it’s really important to recognise that things may not be exactly the same as they once were. Whilst we are still a bit unsure as to what socialising will look like, we know that the pandemic will have altered our social norms, and it could take time for us all to tap into our pre-covid social toolkits. With that in mind, let’s crack on:
I always find that being open and transparent in social situations help me a lot. I’ve never been the least awkward bloke in the room for sure, but I find that addressing my awkwardness in certain scenarios is a great way to release any tension and has helped me to be at peace with it. You could do this by making a little joke or simply just stating that you’ve been worrying about stepping back out into the world, even if only a little bit.
It’s probably likely that the others feel the same too!
Practice Small Interactions
This is not always the easiest thing to do, but simple, small interactions can significantly improve your confidence, which will help to prepare you for the inevitable interaction with your friends or family members. For example, you could say hello to a person you walk past on the street, ask the cashier how their day is going or even just smile at the postie!
I like to try and say hello to people that I walk past when I’m out walking my dog because it lifts my spirits whilst helping me get used to being around our fellow humans. Give it a go!
For many people, it can be so easy to get stuck in your own thoughts or try to pay attention to too many things at once. This could lead to you finding it difficult to come up with questions or find topics to talk about.
So whenever you feel yourself straying from the conversation, try to revert your attention back to the matter at hand. By focussing, you may find that the conversation will feel a lot more natural and many different topics will spring to mind based on what the other person is talking about.
Prepare Some Conversation Starters
Following on from concentration, another way to help the conversation flow is to prepare some conversation starters. This one is quite simple to do and can be highly effective, even if you just have a quick think about it on your way to meet your friends – you could even use your surroundings on the way as inspiration. I’ll sometimes wear something that stands out in order to spark a conversation or make small remarks about and find that it works quite well.
I bet that if you speak to any barbers or customer service staff, they’ll have loads locked and loaded!
Fake It ‘Til You Make It
Have you ever heard of social feedback? According to the American Psychology Association, it is ‘a direct report of the effect of one’s behaviour or speech on other people’. With this in mind, psychologists such as John Zelenski PhD think that you could simply act like an extrovert and reap the benefits because of positive feedback e.g. someone laughing at your joke (which I’m sure is rare for me at the best of times). Here are 4 ways to do this:
- Try to appear more enthusiastic and talkative
- Force yourself to smile or laugh
- Lift your head, look forward, straighten your back and let your arms swing naturally whilst walking to appear more confident (eventually you may actually feel it)
- Practice making eye contact (try not to be too intense with this though!)
Think about trying these, you might even surprise yourself!
Be Comfortable with Silence
It’s so important to recognise that silence during a conversation is not a failure!
Silence is often a significant part of a good conversation, so try to relax during silence and let the conversation pick itself up naturally. If this doesn’t work, then this is the perfect time to resort to the conversation starters we developed in tip 4!
Take It Easy
Again I think it’s so important to recognise that staring at the same 4 walls for the best part of the year might have taken its toll on your social skills, and there is nothing wrong with that!
So be sure to know your limits and only socialise as much as you feel that you can. It’s likely that your social battery will run out quicker than it used to, and you may need more alone time to get it recharged.
So there we have it, we really hope that these tips will help you to be comfortable when socialising! Let us know how you get on using #mentalhealthmonster or by tagging us on the socials!