Though man is considered a social animal, there are exceptions to this rule. In fact, many people are socially weird or awkward.
You may think that being socially awkward is not a big deal, especially if you live online. You are right; it won’t affect your online life!
However, in real life, it may affect your self-esteem, goals, expectations, relationships, and happiness. This is why you should try to overcome social awkwardness as early as possible.
Here are a few characteristics of socially awkward people to help you understand if you are one of them, and tips on dealing with the awkwardness.
1. Feeling nervous in social situations
People often get nervous on particular occasions such as when giving a speech or a presentation. However, socially awkward people feel nervous in social settings even as a part of the audience. Social phobia or social anxiety is the correct term to describe the behaviour of a socially awkward person in such situations.
The fear of being judged or embarrassed often leads to weird behaviour, which further increases the nervousness. As a result, it becomes difficult to break the unending cycle of social anxiety.
To overcome this problem, you must develop social confidence. Thinking about what others will think of your behaviour often leads to social anxiety. Therefore, the first thing to do is to stop thinking about what others will think of you.
Make a list of the typical situations that make you awkward. Start putting yourself in such situations by doing the easiest action first. Keep moving up the list until you have performed them all. Try to have a rational outlook.
For instance, when making a presentation, instead of thinking, “I am going to make a fool of myself,” tell yourself, “I have done this before. I am going to nail this again.”
2. Worrying about making a conversation
Conversations are fun for most people. However, they are far from that for socially awkward people. Being a socially awkward person, you are likely to be more worried about how people perceive you to be, instead of connecting with them.
Resulting in the conversations often interrupt with long uncomfortable pauses. Whenever you open your mouth, your thoughts might seem to stumble out, creating confusion.
However, you must understand that not every lull or silence is an outcome of your or someone else’s mistake. Sometimes, people may need time to figure out what to say next or ponder over a thought-provoking point. So, don’t put yourself under too much stress if there are occasional silences in a conversation.
The best way to strike a conversation is to pay a compliment and tie it in the flow of the conversation. Asking an open-ended question such as “How was your weekend?” or “Do you like to go to concerts?” depending on the social setting can also lead to interesting conversations.
3. Feeling self-conscious forever
One particular trait of a socially weird person is self-consciousness. Being self-conscious in social situations is primarily associated with having insecurities about your looks and personality.It often drives you to believe that you are not worthy of people’s attention or respect. So, you start to perform every action to meet the imaginary expectations you think others have of you. Unfortunately, this line of thinking only drags you down further.The origin of this issue lies in the lack of self-confidence. Never think that you are the centre of attention. The truth is that nobody cares about what you look like because they are too busy worrying about their own looks.Replace negative thoughts about your personality with positive ones such as your accomplishments, strengths, and your good qualities that set you apart from your peers. If you ever make a fool of yourself, learn to laugh it off because no one is perfect.All of us make silly mistakes at some point in our lives. These simple tricks will help boost your self-confidence. Alternatively, you can also try tips from a self-help book.
4. Afraid to make eye contact
Avoiding eye contact as far as possible is also a sure-shot sign that you are a socially weird person. Your eyes are the windows to your inner self. You can see one’s emotions or insecurities in their eyes. That’s why socially awkward people always try to avoid eye contact.
However, your eyes also reflect sincerity, integrity, self-confidence, and warmth. Therefore, avoiding eye contact during a conversation is off-putting.
The best way to learn to make eye contact is to practice little by little. Make it a point to look into the eyes of your friends and co-workers long enough to notice the colour of their eyes.
You don’t have to strike a conversation, at least not in the beginning. Just make sure to smile after you have made eye contact so that they don’t feel awkward. You can increase the duration of eye contact as you make a casual conversation. The ultimate goal is to maintain eye contact even when talking to a stranger.
5. Overthinking everything
Socially awkward people tend to overthink all situations in their lives, whether small or big. Overthinking is like slow poison that eventually sucks the happiness out of your life. Soon, you develop a habit of making a mountain of a molehill.
For example, a simple comment from your boss can lead to overthinking that at the end of the day he will fire you. Next, you may think that your girlfriend will leave you the moment you are jobless, and so on. This train of thoughts only leads to distraction, resulting in more silly mistakes.
In short, overthinking makes you miserable. This habit is also responsible for upsetting your sleep cycle, leading to several health problems including blood pressure, diabetes, weight gain, and heart diseases.
The moment you notice a destructive thinking pattern running through your mind, distract yourself with happy and positive alternatives. Listen to your favourite music, take a short coffee break, or call your best friend. Engaging in your favourite activity even for a few minutes will help you relax and regain focus.
Another way to stop overthinking everything is to learn and practice mindfulness as it allows you to focus your complete attention on the task at hand. You can also meditate or learn a breathing exercise such as Pranayama to become mentally stronger.
6. Dates always go wrong
When it comes to socially awkward people, dating is a real struggle. Things such as avoiding eye contact, blurting things that you don’t want to say, being over analytical, and acting in a manner that makes you look needy or desperate can be a big let-down, especially on the first date.
Still, a socially awkward person can go on successful dates.
The easiest way to enjoy a date is to learn to have a casual talk even with a total stranger. Therefore, you need to develop your communication skills. Volunteering for a few hours every week at a homeless shelter, hospital, orphanage, or church is a great way to improve your communication as well as social skills.
You also need to understand how your awkwardness affects your behaviour and work on it. For example, if overthinking is responsible for ruining your dates, meditation may help keep your mind calm. Alternatively, you can go out with a socially awkward person, as you may be able to relate to him/her better.
7. Saying wrong things at the wrong time
One of the most common traits of socially weird people is that they blurt out the wrong things at the wrong time. Whether it is a simple comment, compliment or even a joke, people may think that it was uncalled for, making you feel embarrassed.
An example of this is asking your friend “How are you?” at his mother’s funeral. In short, your intentions are perfectly harmless, but the outcome of your words is far from ideal.
Once again, you will need to work on your conversation skills. So, try talking to people as often as possible. The more you practice, the better you will understand what to say in a particular situation.
However, avoid babbling something just to avoid the discomfort of silence. Make sure to take a deep breath before you speak, as this will give you a moment to ponder over your words before they leave your lips.
However, don’t mull over your comment forever. Above all, if you make a mistake, apologize immediately.
Social awkwardness can seriously affect your personal and professional life. It will keep you away from human interaction and intimate relationships, resulting in low self-esteem and a life devoid of happiness.
Fortunately, overcoming social weirdness is certainly possible, irrespective of your socioeconomic background. The above signs will not only help you find out if you are socially awkward but also tell you how to fix these issues.
Remember, you are bound to make a few mistakes along the way, even embarrass yourself. Nevertheless, don’t let these hindrances stop you from having a great social life.
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Author: Raven Fon
Raven Fon is a freelance writer and a globetrotting journalist. She studied creative writing and journalism at Saint Petersburg College and has since been a contributor to several written and online publications including her own MysticalRaven.com. She is an avid lover of cartoons and comics and believes everyone writes better while wearing a cape.