The quality of your life relies on the quality of your relationships. Unfortunately, social awkwardness is an impediment to socializing and building the kind of relationships you want. Fortunately, it can be cured.
If you’re socially awkward there’s nothing inherently wrong with you.
Social awkwardness does NOT result from a lack of social or emotional intelligence (EQ).
What passes off as social intelligence is in fact social skills, which no one is born with. Social skills are cultivated just like any other skill: by practice and repetition.
Emotional intelligence (EQ), on the other hand, is a term made up by a journalist, not by a scientist. In other words, it doesn’t exist.
There is no such thing as “Social Anxiety Disorder” either. Social anxiety is normal and expected because:
- Our standing in the social hierarchy is a major determinant of our level of happiness,
- The quality of our relationships has a massive impact on the quality of our lives,
- Other humans can be dangerous.
It takes no less than a sociopath to not feel some level of anxiety in social settings and interactions.
Social anxiety can be crippling and it never completely disappears (which is completely normal and expected) but it becomes manageable as you become more socially skilled and improve your standing in the social hierarchy.
Social Awkwardness Is NOT A Personality Trait
Social awkwardness or shyness is often associated with personality as if socially awkward or shy people are born like that. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It’s true that your genetic attributes decide some of your personality traits but social awkwardness (or shyness for that matter) is not one of them.
The proof that shyness and social awkwardness aren’t personality traits is that you’re not awkward or shy around some people (mostly your loved ones) and you’re suddenly shy and awkward around others. It’s too fluid to count as a personality trait, as genetic personality traits are rather rigid than fluid.
Most of what passes off as “your personality” is the sum of the subjective opinions of people around you when you were a child – your parents, teachers, classmates, and other people who cross your path.
The implicit danger of labeling social awkwardness or shyness as a personality trait is that it renders you helpless against a massive impediment to living your life to the fullest.
After all, if it’s a personality trait so there’s nothing you can do about it, right?
Wrong. Luckily it’s not a personality trait.
Why People Love To Stigmatize Others As Shy Or Socially Awkward
People want to fit you into familiar, conventional categories so that you stop being unpredictable for unpredictable people scare them.
The problem with conventional categories is that they rasp your exceptional qualities which in turn massively stunts your potential.
If you can be boxed into conventional categories then you become like everyone else. If you become like everyone else you live like everyone else, i.e. miserable.
As a child, you were powerless to resist the manipulations of the people around you. Adults appeared to you like omnipotent deities who can do nothing wrong so you accepted their judgments of you without contest.
Now that you’ve seen adults aren’t infallible deities as you thought of them to be, you can deny their judgments of you especially when those judgments are an impediment to realizing your potential.
You Have The Power To Defy The Limits Other People Impose Upon You
You’re not a powerless child anymore. You no longer have to conform to other people’s expectations of you. You control your own destiny, not them.
What you want is to behave in a way that serves your interests, not the interests of other people at your expense.
You have the power to mold your personality and get rid of the traits that prevent you from realizing your potential.
The best way to stop being socially awkward is to improve your social skills and your standing in the social hierarchy.
How To Improve Your Social Skills And Your Standing In The Social Hierarchy
Modern society is an artificial construct. Humans have invented manners and moral social values in order to establish social coherence.
Your instincts don’t suffice to navigate the complex terrain of modern life, including the complex modern social interactions.
Humans are social animals. Social adeptness is essential since you’ll be dealing with people for a lifetime, either directly or indirectly.
The sooner you master your social skills the better. The upsides are unlimited with no significant downsides. Those who know how to deal with other humans move forward in life. Those who don’t can learn it.
1. Take Responsibility
No one cares if social awkwardness harms you or not. In fact, other people benefit from your awkwardness as by being socially awkward and shy, you automatically disqualify yourself from desirable relationships without others having to out-compete you.
Since a lack of social skills harms you more than it harms anyone else, it’s your responsibility to fix it. No one else will take responsibility for your life on your behalf.
2. Come To Terms With Human Nature
Coming to terms with human nature is a giant step in improving your social skills. A solid understanding of human nature makes it easier to deal with humans.
Human nature isn’t what you wish it to be. It is what it is. You can’t change it so your best bet is to come to terms with it.
Never forget that you’re a human being too so the laws of human nature apply to you too. You’re not somehow above the laws of nature.
Humans are selfish. They’re interested in themselves a thousand more times than they’re interested in you. Understand and internalize this because it will have massive implications in your relationships with them. If you can get people to talk about themselves they’ll like talking to you.
3. Talk To People
Talk to people you encounter in your daily life. Don’t discriminate. You can talk to everyone, even people you aren’t interested in building relationships with.
By talking to people, you’ll practice the basics such as socially calibrating your conversations (which prevents you from making awkward remarks, inappropriate jokes, etc.), establishing and maintaining eye contact, and so on.
Most people aren’t rude and rude ones aren’t worth your time anyway. Cut out the occasional rude one and practice small talk with decent people.
Most of your social interactions will be superficial. There’s nothing wrong with this. Calibrating your small talk abilities will serve you well for a lifetime.
Developing strong bonds with people is a useful skill as well but that’s not necessary with most people because you can bond with only so many people in your life. With most other people, you’ll develop superficial relationships and that’s fine.
4. Don’t Tie Your Self-Worth To Particular Social Interactions
Your sense of worth comes from inside, not from the opinions of others of you.
When improving a skill, self-doubt is normal and expected. Mistakes, failures, and rejections happen. There’s no shame in lacking social skills as you’re not born with them.
Resist the urge to blame others or beat yourself up for your failures. With each mistake, failure, or rejection you’re getting closer to success.
Caring about a particular social interaction reeks of neediness which is a massive repellant. There are about 8 billion humans on this planet.
5. Never Be Afraid To Roll Solo
Most people, especially socially awkward people, are scared to death of rolling solo because they don’t want to look like a loser who doesn’t have friends.
This mindset massively limits your freedom. You can’t go out to see a movie, visit a bar/club/restaurant alone, or travel solo, etc.; lest people will think you’re a loser with no friends.
Remember the laws of human nature. No one cares. People are a thousand times more worried about what others might be thinking of them than whether you come across as a loser rolling solo.
As a general rule, the best way to get rid of your fears is by facing them.
Rolling solo expands your options to meet new people. You can go to where people congregate without having to find someone to go with you.
Besides, rolling solo will increase your desire to meet new people.
If you have your friends with you, you’ll be less willing to meet new people not only because you already have people to spend time with but you’ll also be reluctant to risk rejection in front of your friends. It’s easier to fail in front of strangers due to less social pressure.
6. Don’t Fear Rejection
I know it’s easier said than done but bear with me.
We instinctively fear rejection because human nature was formed when we lived in tribes and rejection could mean ostracization from the tribe which in turn could lead to death in the jungle.
We no longer live in tribes or jungles. You won’t die of rejection in modern society. Your primitive fears are baseless.
Rejection is a part of modern life. Fear of rejection severely limits your potential. Who cares if you’re rejected? Most people won’t even bat an eye. It’s all in your head. In fact, fearlessness is even attractive.
Overcome your fear of rejection and it will open doors to many opportunities.
7. Quit Social Media, Playing Video Games, Watching Porn
Social media, video games, and porn aren’t substitutes for face-to-face social interactions with real-life people.
The people of social media are fake. Video games are anti-social. Watching porn robs you of your desire to socialize with the kind of people you want to have sex with.
Live is lived by interacting with real people in real life, not behind a computer screen.
8. Look Good
People who look good are more likely to succeed socially than people who don’t.
-But, but, but I’m not good looking
That’s fine. Looking good is less about genetics, more about how you take care of your appearance.
Anybody can dress well, get in shape, take care of their teeth, nails, etc.
There’s a reason why salespeople dress impeccably. It works.
Looking your best self telegraphs self-respect. If you respect yourself, others will be inclined to respect you too. People want to associate with those who they respect.
Don’t row against the current. Look your best and the rate of your success in social interactions will shoot up.
If you haven’t won the genetic lottery, not only you can massively improve how you look, but also there are lots of other ways to overcome the disadvantage of a lack of natural good looks. You’ve got to be willing to make the most out of the hand you’ve been dealt.
9. Never Neglect Self-Improvement
Humans organize themselves in social hierarchies. This process is subconscious. The higher your value, the higher your status will be in any social hierarchy. The higher your status in the social hierarchy, the more people will want to associate with you.
Self-improvement is the surest way to improve your social status.
Self-improvement is often equated to being a recluse but this is false. Improving your social skills is an integral part of self-improvement.
Moreover, you want to be an asset to the people you interact with. Low-value people are burdens to people around them, especially their loved ones.
Read books, improve your life skills, make more money, travel, exercise, etc. Be a desirable and interesting person to socialize and build relationships with.
You can take the 30-day intensive self-improvement challenge, pick your primary goal as improving your social skills and improve them along with other useful habits that will improve your status.
The better the product (you) the easier you can sell it. You can also charge a higher price for a better product which means you get to meet higher quality people.
Self-improvement also makes you more optimistic. Doomy and gloomy people are avoided. People are drawn to upbeat and energetic people.
10. Don’t Use Alcohol As A Crutch
We talked about how social skills don’t come naturally and how we are hardwired to fear rejection.
As a result, people resort to drinking alcohol in order to get rid of their inhibitions before they socialize, especially with the opposite sex.
However, alcohol impedes the improvement of your social skills.
Alcohol is a social lubricant not because you’re drinking but because other people are drinking. In fact, talking to an inebriated person is often a chore. There’s a reason why people avoid alcoholics.
Also, if you rely on alcohol for meeting new people, you’ll severely limit your interactions with people to certain settings such as bars or clubs.
There are many great people who don’t drink at all or don’t go to bars or clubs.
11. Stop Being Self-Conscious
Social awkwardness tends to go hand in hand with self-consciousness.
Socially awkward people don’t necessarily need to directly interact with other people to feel socially awkward. They feel uncomfortable in crowded areas as if everyone else is watching them and noticing they’re socially awkward.
Go out to a mall, and you can easily spot a socially awkward person by their nervous body language.
This happens because of self-consciousness. It’s easier said than done to stop being self-conscious but it gets better the more you improve your social skills.
Adopting the mindset that “no one cares” helps. People are self-absorbed. They worry about how they look a lot more than how others look.
You can also try to emulate the mindset of a kid. Kids have zero self-consciousness. They couldn’t care less if others are watching them, judging them, or laughing at them.
It’s no accident that kids are excellent at developing new skills. They aren’t afraid of judgment so they aren’t afraid to make mistakes.
Be like a kid. Stop being self-conscious. No one cares if you botch a social interaction or look out of place in a social setting.
12. Listen More Than You Talk
We’ve already covered that people are a thousand times more interested in themselves than they’re interested in others.
You can’t change this fact but you can use it to your advantage without doing anything other than listening to people when they talk.
People are selfish. They’re primarily interested in themselves. Let them talk about themselves and your social interactions will be smoother and more pleasant.
Most people are impatient to listen to others. Listening to someone else is something they endure until it’s their turn to talk.
Don’t be most people. Listening has more value than talking anyway.
If you talk you can only talk about what you already know. If you train yourself to listen, you might learn a thing or two.
Optional Tactics To Improve Your Social Skills
The following are not compulsory for improving your social skills but they can greatly help you on your way to mastery.
After all, there’s always room for improvement and there are zero downsides to better social skills. So why not try them if you have the time and the energy to do so?
1. Study Marketing
Marketers are excellent communicators and masters of human nature.
They must communicate with people well or they don’t put food on the table. Their livelihood literally depends on getting along with people.
Ask any marketer worth their salt and they’ll tell you that the most important word in a marketer’s vocabulary is “you.” You can’t use the word “you” enough in your sales pitch.
There’s no reason why you can’t apply the same principle to your social interactions.
There are many great marketing books out there. You can study them even if you don’t intend to sell anything.
Socializing is in a way selling yourself. Marketing knowledge helps to figure out what moves people.
You can even go a step further and be a marketer yourself. You’ll have better social skills and you’ll make money along the way. Not a bad deal.
2. Join Group Activities
Joining a pre-built group of people is a great way to meet new people. There are groups for any hobby or skill you can think of.
I see no downsides to joining them and meeting like-minded people.
3. Take Public Speaking Classes
Speaking in front of a group of people can greatly alleviate social awkwardness.
People who took public speaking classes swear that it’s one of the most useful skills that someone can build.
It would be nice to acquire a useful skill along the way as well.
Be sure to read:
- How to Be a Superior Man, Chapter 3: Gain Direction
- How to Be a Superior Man, Chapter 2: What Makes A Man A Superior Man
- How To Stop Caring What Others Think Of You
- “I Have No Friends”: Why Friendships Are In Decline In Modern Times And What To Do About It
- How to Stop Being Needy
- How to Overcome the Fear of Rejection