If You Suck At Socializing, Follow These 25 Tips To Look Less Awkward

If you are shy around strangers, these tips from Ask Reddit could slowly turn you into a social butterfly.
A girl who feels awkward
Unsplash / Sarah Doody

1. Stop overthinking what you are about to say.

“Not being afraid of saying stupid things and being able to brush it off and laugh when that happens.

I used to spend a lot of time re-thinking and analyzing what I was about to say to make sure I wouldn’t do a stupid thing and many times I would just remain silent. Now I can just talk and talk and say jokes, ask questions, tell stories and so on.

Sometimes the questions are stupid, the jokes are bad and the stories are boring. But you can tell this from the other people and change your approach. If you don’t care this happens is easy to keep going and often you’ll trigger something in the other people that would make them want to share their own ideas, stories or jokes so the conversation keeps flowing. I like to listen more than I like to talk but I am able to keep going to make the conversation flowing with virtually anyone.” — HowToFlyForDummies

2. Limit thinking words.

“Pay attention to all the ‘um’ ‘like’ ‘uhhh’ words and things like that. It’s better to extend the last word a small bit or leave a brief pause than to stutter with words like that.” — Idontknowyounknow

3. Reference previous conversations.

“It helps to get them to talk about what they enjoy and are passionate about. Bonus points if you remember what they say and refer back to it during conversations.

Protip: When greeting someone, don’t just say, ‘How are you?’ Call back to a conversation about what they might have been working or dealing with and see what progress they have made.” — Kuroi_Usagi

4. Talk about your pets

“If you are talking somebody for the first time try to make a connection, something in common. I have a puppy and like to talk dogs a lot, people with a dog will want to talk about theirs. When I speak to somebody for the first time at work and they ask what have I been up to at the weekend or something I would say I took my puppy to the park which could start the excited dog conversation. If they don’t have a dog then move on to something else. I could say I cooked a great meal and they could have an interest in that which would start a conversation.

If you want to talk to somebody out of the blue at a bar or somewhere try talking about something around you first. Ask them to pass you a straw, talk about how good the music is in the bar or how busy it is. Ask them if they know any other good bars around.” — Wearealljustapes 

5. Never one-up other people.

“Anti one-upping. Listen to peoples stories or facts, and relate a personal experience that is similar, but marginally less interesting or is embarassing rather than boastful.

If someone mentions something cool or clever, or their interest, and you know about it, interrupt a little and be like ‘wait, I’ve heard of that, isn’t that where [x]?’ ‘I think it’s cool but i’m not sure i get it, can you dumb it down for me?’

Be genuinely interested and humble, up the humble a little if you need to compensate for their low self esteem.

If you train yourself to think that people want to be appreciated, you will learn to genuinely find them interesting, and they will want to engage with you when you steer the convo towards things both of you find interesting.” — throwawaybreaks

6. Take the pressure off of yourself.

“Make it clear for yourself : You aren’t responsible for the other person to feel good. Just take the pressure off yourself with that sentence.

Now without pressure it’s much easier to make conversation, right? It’s important to keep a nice atmosphere while you talk, so everyone feels good. If they don’t, you aren’t responsible. (Expect you are acting like an asshole, then it’s your fault)

Be funny (as long as you can), try to be socially intelligent (saying the right thing to the right time) and charismatic (obvious, right?) and try to ask questions, which go in-depth about the Topic. And SMILE.” — MountanDewBoi

7. Repeat the question someone asked you.

“When someone asks you a question, ask the same one back. It keeps the conversation going. How was your weekend? it was good, I did this and that. How was yours? People often ask the question they themselves want to answer.” — Caslon

8. Read books on the subject.

“I read How to Win Friends and Influence People.

It’s not very long and full of lots of anecdotes about certain techniques that really line out what the author is talking about and how effective the tools can be.

It changed the relationship between me and my in-laws before my wife and I were married. They really started to like me, despite all of their feelings on their daughter being with another woman, and now they’re as much my family as hers.” — SheaRVA

9. Get other people to talk about themselves. 

“Try to provoke or induce people to talk about themselves rather than talking more about yourself. Listen more, show genuine interest in people’s lives and experiences, understand that your own body language gives away dead ringer if you have a lack of interests. Generally speaking, actually be interested in people.” — whoisfourthwall

10. Look the other person in the eyes.

“I’m late to the party here and see a lot of great ones. But for the love of God, look the other person in the eye! Don’t stare into their soul, your eyes can drift occasionally to appropriate places, but look then in the eye when you are speaking to them and when they are speaking to you.” — jrobjr123

11. Don’t be an asshole.

“Don’t be an arsehole. If you make a comment amongst a group of people that you hate fat women who wear too much make up, then don’t be surprised if most the women in the room would rather speak to other people and avoid you. People don’t generally like being made to feel like they’re going to be examined and judged if they talk to you.” — WantsToShitInPrivate

12. Use specific phrases.

“‘Tell me more about that’ is your best friend. Say it often, say it with interest.” — jessofthejungle

13. Talk about cliche topics if there’s nothing else to say.

“Don’t be afraid to fall back onto cliche small talk topics. The weather, their family, what they did over the weekend, work, etc. It helps make people comfortable by keeping it surface level. If they are interested in continuing conversation transition to more interesting topics.” — sycher

14. Become a better listener

“Be a good listener. A lot of people take this for granted but by listening to the people you are holding a conversion with you can better find the ques you need. Not only that but if you start acting aloof because your not truly listening people will start seeing you as a rude person, and start to avoid you.” — Atlusfox

15. Try streaming to become more comfortable speaking aloud.

“I used to be shy. Until I was 19 I spoke to almost no one but my closest group of friends unless absolutely forced to and even then it was like pulling teeth. I never knew what to say, smalltalk failed me and I never managed to make anything happen outside of the rare people that I managed to be awkward around long enough without them getting annoyed that I could finally loosen up a bit. I mean basically I did the least amount of talking necessary to function.

I broke this with twitch streaming. I decided to go for it despite knowing I’d probably flop, and that at the most I’d be slightly less than a failure. At first I had my core group of friends playing with me so it wasn’t hard to fill time, but when they weren’t available I noticed I’d drop viewers during long periods of silence. This led me to start talking, just saying my usual thought process out loud instead of thinking it to fill the dead air and keep the level of stimulation up to retain viewers. Over time this bled into my normal life and I can now give a speech on stage in front of hundreds of people as easily as I can sit across from my best friend and talk about video-games.

I also think the rise of nerd culture is a huge factor. Growing up the stuff I like was taboo to talk about, if you admitted you liked super heroes and fantasy novels and space marines you’d get beat up or made fun of, it now its accepted if not held high as the coolest shit there is. My early shy nerdom molded me into someone who knows a shot load about the cool stuff now!” — TerraformedOcelot

16. Never forget to smile.

“Talk less; smile more.” — Phillypede

17. Make other people feel good.

“Ask questions. A lot of them. Make them talk about what they know best: themselves. Make them feel good and be genuinely interested in what they have to say. I like to think that I can learn something from every person I meet.” — Roancap

18. Start by talking to retail workers.

“I have aspergers, and dreaded talking in public. So I forced myself into in to get better. I can now do chit chat in my sleep. The way I learned was to take a minute to say something with gas station clerks, grocers, and waiters/waitresses who were paid to be somewhat pleasant. I would not if it was too busy, but in general would practice by asking people how they were in different ways to get different answers, (whats up, how’re you doing, how’re you doing today, whats going on, etc), and then copying the people who had smooth replies.

My tip, no one wants to feel they are wrong, even if they are wrong. Especially when talking to a stranger, where your word isn’t very strong, the discussion will end if you say no. Instead, find some part of their statement you can agree with, (yeah, i like to be proactive and get ahead of ___ too.) Then, offer the correct/logical way as a preference. Its fine to do this with a total 180, that is not even subtle. People will still like that you tried to agree, even if they call themselves out for being wrong.” — Dyanpanda

19. Fake your confidence. 

“Fake it until you make it.

Put me from the most shy, creepiest, awkward kid you could ever meet to a collegiate teacher sometimes twice my age and scoring the most wonderful woman in the world and some really terrific friends and moments in my life. I know out sounds dumb at first, but it really does work wonders.

When people think you are confident without being a humblebrag, or a pretentious douche, they WANT to have conversations with you.” — actually_Dave

20. Ask deeper questions about the topic at hand.

“I always ask deeper questions about what they tell me. For instance, when someone tells me about their plans for a future career, I will always ask why they are keen on doing so or what inspired them to choose that path – ‘Really? What made you so interested in economics?’ or ‘that’s interesting, what led you to pick that line of work?’ And I go deeper if necessary and compliment what I think is worthy of a compliment.” — thequirkyblackgirl

21. Nod your head to show you’re paying attention.

“Listen carefully, nod your head periodically to let them know you are paying attention. Do not do anything that would take your primary attention off of them. Speak slowly, and confidently. Rather than taking 10 minutes to explain something that would take 1 minute, take 1 minute and speak slowly. That is a common indicator of charisma, that you choose your words carefully. Tell stories to connect with people, story telling is difficult and involves using voices, gestures, emotions. If you’re teling a story properly, you’ll probably be more emotive than normal. That is ok. Charisma on Command(youtube) has a lot of good tips on this).

A good conversationalist will also make great eye contact, if you’re close together, get some physical contact in(develops a bond which increases their likeness towards you). Like if I am laughing with a friend, I may put my hand on their shoulder.

Lastly, be curious! Ask questions, but don’t make it an interview. Ask to understand. Clarify when needed. All great interviewers on those top TV shows do this kind of stuff, it is slightly canned, but the principle is true. Just as an example conversation.” — MRItopMD

22. Don’t talk over anyone.

“Find mutual interests, discuss.

Take interest in what the other people in the group have to say.

Do not one-up.

Do not talk over.” — generic_brand_cola 

23. Ask really good questions.

“I’m fairly introverted, but I’m in sales, and I had to break through it. The best conversations I have come when I barely talk at all. The trick is to just ask good questions. Most folks love to talk about themselves, so I just find their passion and let them run with it.” — kylew1985

24. Say the other person’s name.

“Ask people about themselves. Say their name a few times. Speak well of other people, and keep things light.” — GIfuckingJane

25. Know when to end the conversation.

“Know when someone wants to talk and when someone doesn’t. Short answers = not interested. Regardless of male or female.

Pick up on your surroundings. Sports bars, talk sports. Family party you got dragged along to? Ask the relation.

And always, when in doubt, alcohol. ‘Would you like to go get a drink?'” — straponkate Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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