When I became self-employed, it was a huge shift.
Gone were coworkers, office small talk, and happy hours.
Instead, it was just me.
And the cat.
At first, it was nice.
"Finally, I can just put my head down and do the work!" I thought.
But, after a couple of months, I realized "Holy crap! I might accidentally become a hermit if I'm not careful."
When you're trying to learn (or in my case re-learn) how to become more social, it's effective to have a few tips to help you get on the right track.
These tips will help whether you're
Here's a sample of crappy advice you WON'T find in this article:
Here are 8 ways to become more social starting TODAY.
1. Start Small Conversations Throughout Your Day To Build Social Momentum
Look at Usain Bolt.
Do you think he just flops out of bed, laces up his spikes, and sets world sprinting records?
He warms up. Every athlete does.
You should view being social in the same way.
Something I tell my private coaching clients who want to be more social, is to develop the skill of starting tiny, low stakes conversations throughout your day.
When you warm up, you'll discover that as the day goes on, it becomes easier and easier to start and have those conversations.
I explain more in this video:
A typical day might look something like this:
When we have those tiny conversations throughout our day, we're able to warm up socially so that when we need to be "on" socially, we can.
FAQ: 4 questions I get from people wondering how to be more social:
"Won't it be weird if I just start talking to people?"
I've had over 90K conversations. People are fine with you talking to them. As long as you're keeping the conversation light and energetic, (more on this later) no one cares.
If anything, you're making their day better.
"What the hell should I say?!"
Relax! Typically people stress 439% more than they should on what to say. Simple beats complex every time. Here are some scripts together you going:
"I can't see myself saying any of those things because [Insert obscure reason here]"
Okay. Just breathe for a second. What you say doesn't matter as much as the fact that you said something. Step one is always opening your mouth.
"This all sounds great! Do you have any more info on having engaging conversations?"
Yes! Here's some further reading on having an engaging conversation:
2. How To Be Better At Socializing Fast? Gamify It.
Okay, so you're psyched to start tiny conversations throughout your day.
Let's kick it up several notches: By making socializing a game.
As you're having those tiny conversations, I want you to focus on one thing: Being curious about people.
It could be something mundane: "This person likes green tea." or it could be interesting like "That person makes banjos out of old coffee cans. They're called canjos!"
To do this, you'll need to put on your "curiosity hat".
What new thing can you learn about each person you talk to?
Action Step: Your mission, should you choose to accept it: At the end of each day, write down one new thing you've learned about three people.
By the time you've hit you 3rd new thing of the day, you'll already be socially warmed up!
3. How To Be More Likable: Be (Externally) Positive!
When you see someone who is really socially skilled, you'll notice a couple of really subtle things:
I tell my readers and clients to dial up their energy level 10% higher than the person or group they're talking to.
They're well-received by whoever they're talking to. Most people don't wake up in the morning and say "I hope someone comes along and drags me down!"
Since it's just 10%, it's an easy target to hit. (No need to go Jim Carrey in Liar, Liar here.)
Also, when you tend to focus on positive emotions and topics, you'll find that it's an easy way to keep the conversation light and energetic. Bonus: This will often disarm negative people.
No talking about that lost puppy you saw this morning, or that awful story you saw on Yahoo.
Keep it fun, light and people will enjoy the conversation, and you'll walk away leaving a great first impression.
4. How To Like Yourself: Be (Internally) Positive!
Raise your hand if you've ever looked back on a conversation and beat yourself up over THAT cringe-worthy thing you said or did?
(Hey, my hand's raised too. No shame here.)
Let's draw a line in the sand: No more saying mean things to yourself.
No more "Why the hell did I say THAT? I am so stupid!"
Stop it. Most of us wouldn't let someone else talk to us the way we talk to ourselves.
Replacing that negative self-talk with positive self-talk is really important.
You're sitting there nodding thinking "Well...DUH."
It goes one layer deeper...
*Puts on Matrix sunglasses*
What if I told you...we often find what we expect to find.
That means, if you expect this party to suck, you've already primed your mind NOT to have a good time.
On the other hand, if you expect this new person to have at least one interesting thing about them, well...you start looking for that one thing.
Look for positive things. Stop looking for negative things.
This literally (not figuratively) changes how you see your world.
Action step: Each day, write down two things:
1. One thing (big or small) that you appreciate about yourself
2. One thing (big or small) that you found interesting about another person.
5. Turn Acquaintances Into Friends Using "The Soft Invite"
On a BMC podcast, I had my friend Rob Riker on to talk about how to make friends.
He laid a solid gold tip that is so crucial to making new friends. (Yet it's something that many people miss)
The Soft Invite:
If you're talking to someone you've just met, and you happen to find a common interest use "The Soft Invite" to gauge how receptive they are to meeting up.
Example topic: Hiking
Jeff: "We should totally go hiking sometime!"
Rob: excitedly "Absolutely! I know this trail outside the city we could try."
Jeff: "Great! Let's set a time!"
If they're excited about whatever activity you're discussing, set plans up!
If they're lukewarm about it. "Yeah, we should do that sometime..." Maybe you need to find a different activity or a different person.
Note: This is where reading body language, energy, enthusiasm, etc. come into play.
6. Use "The Strategic Yes" To Be More Social
I have a confession to make.
I love the movie "Yes Man" with Jim Carrey.
If you've never seen the movie, the plot (without spoilers) is Carrey is a guy who says no to everything. Then something crazy happens and he starts saying yes to everything.
And his life changes dramatically.
This got me thinking, it's really easy to say no to things.
In fact, it feels like there is an epidemic of "no-by-default" going on right now:
The messaging all around us is: "Don't say yes and stretch yourself too thin!" "Protect yourself and just default to 'no'!"
The danger with that line of thinking is that you'll miss out on a TON of great experiences.
(Don't get me wrong. Saying no is very important in many different areas of life.)
But maybe it's okay to have a framework to say yes to more things so that you can have great experiences.
I'd like to suggest a healthy tradeoff...
YES. YES. YES.
This "strategic yes" mindset is all about you saying yes to yourself and yes to opportunities that you might turn down out of reflex.
When I appear on podcasts, I'll get asked: "What makes someone compelling?"
A big piece of that puzzle is being open to new, exciting experiences.
Imagine a circle...
My theory is that the more we say yes or no to things over time, the more the circle expands or contracts.
If you say no most of the time, the circle becomes almost non-existent. (If you consistently decline invites, eventually they stop coming)
But if you strategically default to yes, you'll notice that circle grow.
The great thing about the "strategic yes" is that you can dial it up or down based on how social you want to be or how full your social calendar is getting. (Cough...next tip...cough)
7. Create A Social Calendar
In my house, it's pretty much accepted that an event doesn't exist for me if it's not on my calendar.
I put everything on my calendar. It tells me when to take out the trash every Tuesday at 7:30 PM.
My calendar lets me know when I need to be more social. It's really easy to get busy with life and wonder "When was the last time I saw James?"
Look on the calendar.
If it's been a while, I know I need to shoot James a text and schedule dinner.
If you notice that nothing social is on your calendar for the next couple of weeks, get scheduling!
Like management consultant Peter Drucker said: "What gets measured gets managed."
When we put it on the calendar, we gain visibility into how social we're ACTUALLY being, not how social we *think* we're being.
Bonus tip: At the end of every year, I look back at my calendar to see what events I really enjoyed over the last 12 months. This way I know that I need to schedule similar events the following year.
8. Get To Know Your City
It's always surprising to me how people don't know what to do in their own damn city.
LOOK, JUST GOOGLE IT ALREADY!
"[My City] Event [Current Month]"
Whether you've been a local for years or you've moved to town, exploring some interesting things to do in your city is mandatory.
For example: Find local classes that seem interesting to you.
Chances are, you'll meet other students and you'll have plenty of things to suggest to new potential friends when you use Rob's "Soft Invite". (Hint, hint)
A quick word on going out alone: Yes.
More words on going out alone: It's totally fine to explore your city solo. If you're starting those tiny conversations you'll be able to strike up conversations wherever you go.
Action step: Find one fun thing in your city this month and do it!
At best you'll make some new friends using things you've learned in this article.
At worst you'll have a story to tell people later. (Like that one time I got screamed at in Icelandic...that's a story for another time)
Summary: How To Be More Social Exercises
If you want more tips to help you supercharge your people skills, click the blue button below.
I'll send you my free audio guide on joining and enjoying group conversations. (As well as Q&A videos, podcast, and much more)
I'll help you supercharge your people skills so that you can have a more fulfilling career,
business & social life.
Over the last 15 years, I’ve learned... (Read More)
• 8 Uncommon Tips To Make A Great First Impression
• The Ultimate Guide To Joining & Enjoying Group Conversations
• How to Never Run Out of Things to Say