44 Tips That Socially Awkward 20-Somethings Should Use To Make More Friends

44 Tips That Socially Awkward 20-Somethings Should Use To Make More Friends

If you’re socially awkward, here are a few tips on how to feel more comfortable in conversations from Ask Reddit. 

1. Many people find complaining and pointing out negative things as the easiest methods of conversation, but it’s not a great way to make a good impression or connect with people. You’ll just be seen as a walking buzzkill.

2. Don’t explain the plots of books, movies or dreams in anything longer than three sentences.

3. Don’t highlight your flaws. If you make a mistake, say something awkward or just have a bad zit, don’t draw everyone’s attention to it. They probably didn’t notice.

4. Not reading when people are ready to go. If they are inching away, heading towards the exit, they are just trying to be polite and stay engaged in the conversation, but want/need to head out.

5. Don’t over commit, be casual. If no one reacts to your witty comment, drop it. If your advice is falling on deaf ears, drop it. Just roll with the punches yo. The harder you try, the easier it is for someone to tell that you are trying hard. Relaxed conversation is inviting and attractive for most people.

6. Ask questions rather than give input about your own life. Someone starts talking about their dog? Ask some questions. Don’t automatically go into a tirade about your dog. Letting someone else do the talking means you have to talk less, and questions make you more attentive.

7. Not reading people about how much personal space they need. If I’ve moved away from you more than twice…. back the fuck up and give me a bit more room.

8. It doesn’t matter how funny it was earlier that day when you saw it, don’t force someone to watch a 4 minute youtube clip on the spot.

9. I read somewhere that in radio, if the announcer mispronounces a word, 10% of people notice, unless the announcer corrects themselves. Then 50% notice. If they mispronounce their correction, 90% notice. I have zero idea if these statistics are true, but the comparison stands. If you do something weird or dumb, and no one calls you on it, don’t acknowledge that you did anything weird or dumb at all. If you absolutely must draw attention to your flaws, keep it incredibly brief. It’s not awkward to be around the person who said “grool.” It’s super awkward to be around the person who said “grool” then explained themselves and apologized and said “omg I’m so awkwarddddddd” for 60 seconds afterwards.

10. Succinct communication. I’ll often overhear people telling stories which include impertinent details or leave out crucial details, without realizing how irritating this can be. One of my good friends had this issue, in that he’d always try to protract stories to 3X the required length. I drunkenly told him how it was aggravating listening to him struggle to maintain focus in his storytelling/briefing, and that he should work on getting to the point, especially when speaking to senior executives strapped for time. He told me he hadn’t even realized he was doing it, and later thanked me for pointing it out.

11. Ironically, I have found that socially awkward people tend to struggle with silence. They get visibly uncomfortable and I imagine it’s because they are overthinking the scenario. Socially fluent people are usually like that because the conversations they have are natural and they do not try to force things. If I am with someone and neither of us have anything to talk about, I have no issue with the quiet. This seems to be especially true in relationships. You know you are with the right person when you can talk for hours and not get sick of each other, but you can also be in each other’s presence without a word being said and still enjoy it.

12. Don’t back track a conversation. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, comes up with the PERFECT response/comment/joke 5 minutes later after the conversation moves on to a new topic. Let it go. You’ll get another chance.

13. Super prolonged eye contact. Eye contact is great and all, but when you’re telling a story or having a conversation, it’s very normal for your eyes to move around the room. It’s super uncomfortable when someone stares straight at you when you’re talking, and they don’t. Ever. Break. Eye. Contact. For over 20 minutes.

14. Don’t drink significantly more alcohol than the people you are with. This is surprisingly easy to mess up.

15. Start conversations assuming other people have come up against equal/more challenges and don’t try to one up them or be defensive if they call you out on something. Everyone is facing their own battle, and even if it’s not fair that you have to know that without them telling you, it’s still a necessity when dealing with others.

16. One of the quickest way to make a friend is to share a light secret of some sort. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, but just trusting them with something said in a ‘this is a secret’ type tone, people feel special because you’ve entrusted them with something.

I keep my secrets to be about me (unless I’m saying something nice about someone like ‘they don’t know I saw them, but the other day they did XYZ nice thing for someone’ or ‘watch how excited they get when I mention my dog’). Usually, they’re a bit comical and ’embarrassing’ but I find it always breaks any sort of uncertainty or insecurity. No gossiping unless it’s about a genuine asshole and I’m 100% sure they feel the same way.

People like to be trusted, and to feel special. To feel included in something. To be in on the joke. And it usually leads them to telling you a similar type ‘secret’ and establishes a bond quicker and easier imo.

But I’ve seen people dump all their problems on someone before just after meeting them and I’ve seen people keep their cards close to their chest. I find this happy medium works best for connecting with people, and it helps if you can laugh at yourself.

17. If somebody is hovering around your group at a party, notice it. Don’t pretend they’re not, and don’t ignore it. And don’t let them keep standing there waiting for somebody to let them in. Help that person. Make space for them and say, “Hey, I’m [name]. And you?” They’ll say their name. Then you go, “We were just talking about [topic],” and make a point to include them.

When I see a group where everybody ignores the person who clearly wants to join, I judge the social skills of the people doing the ignoring. All truly excellent gatherings include at least one person who goes around making sure nobody is lonely or scared, and then greasing the social wheels for anyone who is. (Obviously some people don’t want to join in, and that’s fine. But I’m not talking about them.)

18. Knowing the time and place for jokes and meme references.

I work for a environmental conservation company, sometimes we deal with pretty heavy situations. For example, we were talking about a terrible soil survey and how it was going to be affecting this farmers’ field and livelihood. My coworker looks at us and dead ass says: ‘F in the chat am I right?’

Extreme example, but holy hell I was mentally scared from the cringe.

19. Forcing a joke or trying too hard to be funny. I find certain socially awkward people repeat jokes they heard or try way too hard when it’s not relevant to the conversation. I just find some socially awkward people try too hard to be liked and sometimes come off too strong.

20. Confidence is quiet, anxiety speaks. Confident people say “I did this”, non-confident people say “I did this because”. Basically, unless someone asks you, don’t preemptively justify or explain yourself.

21. Caring too much about minor flubs. Even the most socially graceful person in the world will do something embarrassing or awkward every so often. We’ll trip over our own feet, say “grool” when we meant to say “great” or “cool,” accidentally say something insulting when we meant it as a compliment, etc. etc. etc. “Socially fluent” people will brush it off to the point where half the time, no one knows it happened at all. “Socially awkward people” will try to overcorrect and end up drawing more attention to the situation, and dragging it out for a long time.

22. Over-explaining everything they say. Like they’re worried everything will be taken the wrong way, so they keep explaining things ad nauseam. Also continuing the conversation after someone has said they need to leave. You may just be really interested in the conversation, but this makes it look like you don’t respect the other person’s time.

23. I see a lot of socially awkward people that are so preoccupied with trying to find a way to continue the conversation that they fail to either listen to the person while they’re talking or they miss an obvious opportunity to continue the conversation.

24. Some people will talk about themselves and nothing else. The trick is to get other people to do that.

25. Being a try hard nihilist or saying everything sucks and thinking it makes you look edgy or cool.

Also realizing that not everyone wants to debate you all the time, about everything.

Saying agree to disagree can make the difference between getting another invite or not.

26. Lots of socially awkward people say that they hate small talk. Nobody likes small talk though. It’s one of those things that can get a conversation started though before moving into something bigger or more personal. You can start by talking about the weather and then see where the conversation goes rather than just walking up to someone and diving right into your theory about how Finland is a made up place that doesn’t exist.

A couple minutes of small talk can show that you’re a normal person who understands the social conventions surrounding conversational etiquette. That makes people less likely to think you’re an awkward weirdo and more likely to want to talk to you.

27. Please stop saying “I’m a nice guy/girl”. You are definitely not if you have to repeat it constantly.

28. A thing that I see a lot is people saying that nobody likes them or they have no friends. I see this in a couple of my friends and it makes it really hard to try and support them when they disregard my efforts to be there for them even when they’re clearly exaggerating.

29. Keeping arms crossed, hands in pockets, eyes always on the ground, speech volume varying greatly, too much eye contact, or any mix of these.

30. Trying to “One Up” everyone. We were just sharing a funny story or a funny incident, you don’t have to come into the conversation and try to one up the story! Also, trying to be too serious sucks too.

31. Not having enough general knowledge. If you only know about game of thrones, video games, and rick and morty you won’t know how to carry a conversation.

You don’t have to be an expert or even competent, but just knowing what things are and asking an intelligent question about their interests helps a lot.

Just maintain a base of of being informed about stuff. For example, know what common jobs do in a broad sense. Know what common hobbies are. Like a few months ago I met a traffic engineer. I had no idea what they did exactly, but I knew he was in someway involved in developing roads, highway exits, overpasses, and traffic lights. That base line allowed me to ask some basic questions about his work.

32. Sitting in a group of people playing games on your phone. Why even bother?

33. No eye contact during introductions / handshake. I don’t care how painful it is, just do it in this one moment and trust me: you can comfortably get away without making any eye contact from that point on with no problem. If you don’t make eye contact when introduced, shaking hands, it comes across as a sign of superiority, disinterest, rudeness (when it may not be).

34. My wife informs me that I shouldn’t answer small-talk questions with meaningful answers because the other person isn’t really interested in the answers.

35. Pointing out that something is awkward like silence. Don’t acknowledge it because now that’s all you two will remember. Its awkward and there’s no way from coming back from that. Accept the silence and take a moment to think of a different conversation topic.

36. One of the worst things insecure people do is just blatantly expose all their insecurities through the thin veil of a “joke” Everyone understands it’s not a joke, everyone gets put in a very awkward position, and it doesn’t net the insecure person any social points, quite the opposite.

37. Apologizing instead of thanking. Rather than saying sorry for being late, thank them for being patient. Or when it’s urgent, don’t apologize for taking their time – say “If I could have a moment of your time” instead.

38. Talking to much about a topic the other person has only showed mild or fake, polite interest.

39. If they don’t invite you they don’t want you there, don’t force it.

40. Two things: Don’t constantly talk over people, not only is it annoying for the person involved but it is blatantly obvious for everyone around when you do it. No one wants to talk of they can’t get a word in.

41. Be observant of people, if for example you see someone you want to talk to is wearing something like a game of thrones t shirt or a band hat, don’t be afraid to say “I like that T-shirt, are you a big fan ?” It does 2 things, if they are it gives them a chance to talk about something they feel strongly about, even if you don’t have a clue about it or you might be into too, which connects people and gets conversation flow.

42. Don’t change the subject of a conversation unless that point in the conversation warrants it. Let the other person speak what’s on their mind about what you’re talking about.

43. When talking in a crowd, do not mumble but speak with a clear, confident voice.

44. Honestly, the biggest mistake is thinking you’re the only awkward person in the room. I used to think people could feel the discomfort coming off of me, and I’d mumble and be self-deprecating, which just made things worse. It was after living in LA for awhile and being around successful artists or well-known musicians that I realized everyone feels like they’re the most awkward person in the room, even people you think have every reason to be confident.

Once I realized that it I was able to relax. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

About the author

January Nelson

January Nelson

January Nelson is a writer, editor, and dreamer. She writes about astrology, games, love, relationships, and entertainment. January graduated with an English and Literature degree from Columbia University.