Awkward social situations

8 Signs You’re Socially Inept & How to Overcome Awkwardness

We’ve all had those moments when we felt so socially awkward that we’d rather disappear than force out a conversation.

Maybe you accidentally told a bad joke, blurted out something inappropriate, or forgot someone’s name, and then… crickets—awkward silence.

If the idea of small talk, networking events or talking to strangers skyrockets your heart rate, you’re not alone. 

Over 60% of people have experienced social anxiety or shyness. Even leading celebrities like Adele, Mel Robbins, and Jennifer Lawrence have felt socially anxious in certain situations.

Here are 8 signs you may be socially inept and 15 straightforward ways to overcome awkwardness.

Socially inept people don’t know how to comfortably socialize, engage in conversation, and calmly interact with others. They often misread social cues or feel physically anxious. They may have an intense fear of talking to new people and being humiliated in social settings.

Socially inept people feel like this in social situations:

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Like shyness, social awkwardness can manifest in different ways in different people.

The main signs of social awkwardness are:

  1. You feel super nervous in social interactions
  2. You misread people or don’t pick up on social cues
  3. You avoid socializing whenever possible 
  4. Conversations don’t flow
  5. People don’t get your jokes or find them offensive 
  6. There are lots of awkward silences when you talk to people
  7. You feel like people avoid talking to you
  8. You overthink or regret certain things you say in conversations

Some people are completely fine in large groups but feel extremely awkward one-on-one. Others may feel socially crippled and afraid to go out in public. 

Wherever you find yourself on the continuum, know that you are fully capable of learning social skills just like you learned to ride a bike: with practice! 

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Someone who is socially inept may be shy, have social anxiety, or simply not have much experience socializing.

The opposite of socially inept is socially adept, a social pro who knows how to greet people, start conversations, and make others feel comfortable in their presence. 

Surprisingly, many socially adept people (including Science of People founder Vanessa Van Edwards) are #recoveringawkwardpeople. She did not have natural social skills and had to learn to be more socially adept.

There are few things worse than the humiliating, stomach-churning feeling of embarrassing yourself in front of people. Being socially outcasted or rejected can feel more painful than physical pain. Moreover, loneliness is at nearly epidemic levels in America.  

The combination of social awkwardness and loneliness makes for an even more awkward paradox: you desperately want to make friends and feel part of a community, but you feel so weird that you don’t know how to connect with people.

Fortunately, socializing is a skill that anyone can learn. Here are 15 ways to stop being socially inept and feel more confident in conversation

Be a good listener

It’s hard to think of perfectly witty answers or be conversationally charming. What is a better way to start? With listening?

Listening is a social superpower.  Stop trying to think of a clever “socially acceptable” response while other people are talking–this will contribute to feeling socially inept.

Instead, remedy this by practicing better listening skills. Listen to understand rather than to respond

When someone is sharing something with you:

  • Be a Loud Listener. Humans love hearing ‘listening sounds.’ This is when we say “oh,” “ah,” or “Wow” as someone speaks. Show them that you are engaged and present by making eye contact, nodding your head, or subtly humming “mhmm” as they talk.
  • Give Positive Reinforcement. When someone finishes a story, show enthusiasm with phrases like “wow, that’s cool” or “oh, how interesting.”
  • Ask Great Questions. Ask a relevant and sincere question about what they told you. What makes you curious? Or ask a question about what got them the most excited. Something like, “How did you get started doing that?” or “Where did you find all those resources?” or “What’s the next step?”

Action Step: Notice how you feel when someone’s not engaged in what you have to say. Maybe they’re texting while you try to tell them a story. Does it make you feel unimportant or like they don’t care what you say? 

Remember this emotion to ensure nobody feels that way when talking to you. Learn the essential traits of an active listener versus an unengaged listener and put them into practice. 

Active Listener Unengaged Listener 
Focused eye contact Darting eyes 
Eliminating or ignoring distractions  Checking phone, TV, or surrounding area during a conversation 
Nodding or responding “uhhuh” as they talk Complete silence or lack of responsiveness
Remembering details about their story or life Forgetting something important someone told you
Asking relevant questions Bringing up unrelated topics that show you weren’t listening 
Engaged, open body language (torso facing the other person, slightly leaning forward, Closed body language (arms crossed, body turned away from them

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Building new social skills requires changing how you perceive yourself in social situations.  

When you feel socially inept, you may apologize for your behavior out of embarrassment or shame. 

Socially awkward people often create a subconscious identity around their lack of social skills. For example, they may say, “sorry I’m so awkward,” “I’ve always been shy,” or “I have social anxiety.” 

If you want to establish social skills as daily habits, you first have to change your beliefs around socializing. Habit expert and author James Clear asserts:

“To change your behavior for good, you need to start believing new things about yourself.”

— James Clear

Even if you follow all the steps in this guide, you may still feel socially awkward. As rudimentary as it may seem, you must stop believing you’re socially inept. 

The most straightforward place to start? Listen to the way you’re describing yourself.

Eliminate these phrases from your vocabulary:

  • “I have social anxiety.
  • “I am socially awkward.”
  • “I’m sorry, I’m a dork.” 
  • “I’m shy.”
  • “I don’t know how to talk to people.”
  • “I feel awkward in social settings.”

And if you do find yourself saying these things, add a growth mindset. Add…

“But I am working on it!”

“I am growing my confidence.”

…or as Vanessa Van Edwards always says, “I am a recovering awkward person.” 

  1. Avoid conversational traps

We’ve all had those mundane conversations that go like this: 

“Hey, how are you?”

“Good, you?”


… Then what? That is a conversational trap! Traps happen when we ask questions that produce boring, predictable, one-word answers.

People with awkward tendencies often don’t know how to start conversations or get past the initial point of small talk. If you want to feel more prepared before a networking event, date, or party, rehearse a few conversation starters.

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Sometimes shyness and social awkwardness go hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, they’re not a great combo: You feel too shy to socialize, but you feel socially awkward because you don’t talk to people very often. 

Somehow you have to break this cycle to practice your social skills. But here is a big mistake we make…do not practice new social skills in high-pressure situations!

Don’t practice with your boss.

Don’t practice with a VIP.

Don’t practice with a crush.

Hone your skills in low-pressure situations first! One of the easiest ways to overcome shyness is by practicing your conversation skills with wonderful service workers such as:

  • Baristas
  • Bartenders
  • Cashiers and clerks
  • Uber, Lyft, or valet drivers
  • Waiters and waitresses

This is wonderful because you want to make their day better by offering something kind to say, and they are often relatively easy to talk to. After all, they are likely socially adept, and you can learn from them!

Say “hey, how are you?” and ask them a question like:

  • “Did you grow up here in [your town]?”
  • “What’s your favorite thing on the menu?”
  • “What are your hobbies outside of work?”
  • “I love your [complement their clothing or accessory]. Where did you get it?”
  • “What’s the highlight of your day so far?”

Practice being less socially awkward by honing your conversation skills in these low-pressure settings. Just be sure the employee is not too busy with other customers. 

Pro-Tip: Sometimes, you can tell people you feel socially awkward and are working on practicing conversation. Vulnerability and asking for help are empowering. You got this!

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Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations 

Research shows that self-affirmations help you feel more competent when dealing with perceived threats (like socializing).  

In other words, the things you repeat in your head have the power to shape your identity and your confidence around dealing with situations that scare you.

Action Step: Replace negative thoughts about socializing with positive beliefs about your social abilities. Whether you say it out loud or internally, affirm your new identity as a socially savvy person. 

Instead of thinking this… Tell yourself this…
“I hate meeting new people.” “It’s easy to meet new people.”
“I’m so awkward.” “I am friendly and relaxed.”
“I’m horrible at talking to people.” “I am a great conversationalist.”
“That was such a stupid thing to say.” “Everyone says silly things sometimes. They probably won’t remember anyway.”
“They’re judging my lack of social skills.” “Most people are too focused on themselves to notice me.
“People think I’m weird and insecure.” “I’m unique and confident in myself.”
“I feel anxious about socializing.” “I’m excited to meet new people, even if it makes me nervous.”

For more scientifically-proven affirmations, check out this post with 120 Positive Daily Affirmations for Happiness.

Pro Tip: Being shy isn’t a dealbreaker for your social life. Sometimes awkward shyness is just a result of repeated social habits. If you are introverted or feel super shy in social situations, try these 6 science-backed strategies for overcoming shyness.  

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Be empathetic 

Empathy is understanding and identifying with other people’s emotions and thoughts. Socially savvy people tend to be highly empathetic and easily relate to others.

But when you’re socially inept, you may not pick up on people’s emotions. Perhaps you laugh at an inappropriate time, or you don’t show any concern for a struggle they share with you.  

Some of the most important Habits of Highly Empathetic People include:

  • Curiosity about other people
  • Seeking similarities and pointing them out
  • Open body language (slightly leaning forward, uncrossed arms, and eye contact)
  • Paying attention to what people are saying and sharing relevant commentary
  • Making kind and encouraging comments
  • Avoiding judgmental phrases like, “That sounds…” or “I can’t believe you….”
  • Using “we” (instead of “me”) whenever possible to feel more connection

Action Step: Watch Stanford psychologist Jamil Zaki’s TEDx Talk about the science behind empathy and how you can cultivate this skill in your life.  

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Find balance with eye contact 

Oh, eye contact is a delicate balance!

Too much, and it’s overbearing and creepy.

Not enough, and it’s avoidant and dismissive. 

So what to do? When you’re talking to someone, 3-5 seconds of eye contact at a time is usually socially acceptable. It’s normal to look away for a moment and then return your gaze. And don’t forget to blink!

But just like everything in life, balance is critical. Avoiding eye contact or looking down during a conversation can also be perceived as shy or socially unskilled, depending on the culture. 

You don’t want people to think that you’re uninterested in what they have to say. Try to look at people about 50% of the time while speaking and 70% while you’re listening. 

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Don’t violate the personal space bubble

Like the “close talker” in Seinfeld, getting too close to people can make them feel uncomfortable.

Watch this funny clip from Seinfeld to see how people react to a “close talker” that violates personal space: 

In America, it’s pretty common to keep at least 12-18″ of personal space between people unless you know them intimately. In other countries, pay attention to where other people stand in a conversation and mirror them. 

Rule of Thumb: If you take a step in and they step back–you are too close!

Rule of Thumb: If they keep taking steps toward you, you are too far!

Take note of the social norms amongst people you’re hanging out with.  

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Don’t forget your filter 

Do you know when someone randomly blurts out something inappropriate or cringey? 

“Last night, I had the worst diarrhea after dinner.”

“I heard Sydney is sleeping with the boss.” 

“If you didn’t vote for [political candidate], you are a fool.”

… Uhh yeah, awkward.

People with no filter can create incredibly awkward moments. In extreme situations, lacking a filter can also drive away friends. 

People with no filter often:

  • Blurt out random or irrelevant thoughts
  • Talk very loudly or openly about private matters
  • Bring up taboo topics like politics, racism, religion, or sexuality
  • Rudely express their opinions
  • Make offensive jokes
  • Cuss and use profane sayings at inappropriate times

You wouldn’t drink unfiltered water straight from the river, so don’t go into a conversation without a filter. Socially adept people consciously think before they speak and avoid specific topics.

Avoid these topics to appear more socially adept: 

  • Private matters like relationships, personal finance, mental health, or family issues
  • Taboo and controversial issues like religion, politics, gossip, body parts, or sex
  • Strong or overbearing opinions
  • Negative comments about other people
  • Excessively deep emotional sharing (especially in the early stages of a friendship or relationship)
  • Random topics irrelevant to the conversation (this shows you weren’t listening)

Work on building a mental filter that stops you from blurting out anything inappropriate or potentially awkward. But remember not to beat yourself up if you let something slip. Everybody says random or unnecessary comments at some point. 

Action Step: Don’t just say whatever is on your mind at a given moment. Before speaking, take a deep breath and wait 2-3 seconds to think about what you say. This will help you socialize with more poise and respectfulness.

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Be imperfect and laugh at your blunders

When trying to overcome awkwardness, you may feel pressure to be perfect in your social interactions. But something is endearing about seeing the imperfect sides of people.  

Research shows that embracing your imperfections makes you more likable. This is called The Pratfall Effect, and it explains how small clumsy mistakes can humanize you and make you appear more relatable. 

Laughing at yourself shows you don’t take yourself so seriously. It can also take the edge off of an awkward conversation.

Action Step: If you fumble over your words or laugh at a joke you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to shrug it off and chuckle at yourself. You can say, “oh, I don’t know where I was going with that,” or “haha, I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I laughed about being friendly.” 

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Show interest in other people

Showing interest in other people is the easiest “coverup” for lack of social skills. After all, people like to talk about themselves and like it when others are interested in them. 

As you work to build up your socializing toolbox, take the pressure off of yourself to say clever comments or act interesting. Instead, keep the spotlight on other people by expressing interest in what they have to say.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.”

— Dale Carnegie 

Pro Tip: Laugh at people’s jokes, ask questions about their life, and act fascinated by their stories. Most people want to feel cool, funny, interesting and valued by others. 

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Learn to read body language

Have you ever had an awkward conversation with someone that seemed to be looking for their first chance to escape? 

They probably didn’t say they felt awkward, but their body language may have spoken volumes. As you notice how other people’s body language makes you think, you can avoid or mirror certain positions to portray yourself as relaxed in social scenarios. 

Signs that someone is trying to escape an awkward conversation may include:

  • Feet angled toward the door
  • The torso is facing away from you
  • Avoiding or darting eye contact
  • Tense, hunched, or closed-off posture
  • Shifting or fidgeting uncomfortably 
  • Arms crossed
  • A forced or fake smile 

On the other hand, when people feel comfortable, they appear at ease. Signs that someone is pleasantly engaged in conversation include:

  • Feet and torso facing you
  • Palms visible 
  • Engaged eye contact
  • A genuine or relaxed smile
  • Relaxed, intense posture

To avoid social awkwardness, it is vital to learn to read people’s body language so you can pick up on nonverbal cues.

Action Step: As you approach a conversation, practice friendly, open body language. Keep your shoulders back and down to look more confident. Show your hands and avoid putting them in your pockets, so you appear more open and trustworthy. Face your torso toward the person you’re talking to and take a few deep breaths to look more relaxed. 

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Avoid awkward silence with story-generating questions

When there’s a long pause in the conversation, things can get awkward. In the English language, a pause for longer than 4 seconds can make people feel uncomfortable.

If you find yourself in moments of awkward silence, just jump in with an open-ended question. When possible, avoid yes/no questions that may lead to more uncomfortable quiet. 

For example, instead of asking, “Do you like working in marketing?” say, “What’s your favorite thing about marketing?” or “What projects are you currently working on?”

Story-generating questions tend to keep conversations open and flowing more smoothly. Here are some other good ones to keep in your back pocket:

  • What do you love about what you do? (not ‘what do you do?’)
  • How did you get into your line of work (not ‘what do you do?’)
  • What’s your passion project (not ‘what are you up to?’)

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Never say this phrase

Sometimes you can save yourself from social embarrassment by replacing a simple phrase.

For example, have you ever walked up to someone and said, “So nice to meet you!” And they reply, “Uh, we’ve met a few times before.” And you’re, like, “OMG, how awkward! My bad!” 

Don’t worry. It happens all the time. Sometimes faces blur together, and you forget who you’ve met before. 

An easy social save?

Never say, “nice to meet you.”

Instead, always use the phrase “nice to see you.” It is warm and relevant whether you’re meeting someone for the first time or you (might have) met them before. 

Here are a few other awkward social saves that might help:

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Remember people’s names

How many people do you meet that say, “oh, I’m so bad at remembering names”? Practically everyone, right?

Stand out from the crowd and start remembering people’s names so you can avoid awkward social situations like this:

“Hey, Ben! How’s it going?”

“Oh hey…. You!” *panic because you forgot their name*

“… Great, how’s life?”

One of the biggest social failures is forgetting someone’s name when they remember yours.

Dale Carnegie said, “a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” 

Scientists have found that more brain activation occurs from hearing your name versus hearing someone else’s. Social pros remember people’s names because it lights up their interactions. 

Action Step: Brain and memory coach Jim Kwik developed a simple 7-step method that he’s used to remembering thousands of people’s names. The acronym BE SUAVE encompasses the method and the result. It is socially suave to recall names. 

  1. Believe that you can do it. Stop telling yourself the story of forgetting names and acknowledge that your brain can remember them. 
  2. Exercise the skill. Put in the effort to practice remembering names regularly, and eventually, it will become a habit. 
  3. Say it. When someone introduces themselves, repeat their name back in the conversation. When you say their name, you hear it twice (once from them and once from your voice). This also gives them a chance to correct you. 
  4. Use it. Aim to use someone’s name 3 or 4 times throughout the conversation, but don’t overdo it. Try to incorporate their name without forcing it naturally. 
  5. Ask the person about their name: How do you spell it? Who were you named after? Where does your name come from?
  6. Visualize their face with a physical reminder of their name. For example, imagine Jim at a gym, Beau with a wrapped gift, or Logan with a wolverine. 
  7. End it. When you leave a conversation, say goodbye to them by name. Chances are, you will be the most memorable person they talked to. 

Make a promise to yourself to practice this method for the next month and see how your social interactions change. Learn more about Jim Kwik’s memory tips for names in this video: 

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There is no shortage of socially awkward characters in movies. If you want to study what not to do in social situations, notice how these socially inept characters act and how others react. 

For example, in this Meet the Fockers scene, Ben Stiller’s character over-shares embarrassingly intimate information during a speech to his whole family. His character is a perfect example of social ineptitude and the importance of having a filter! Cringe!

In this scene from Superbad, Michael Cera’s character shows how awkward it can be to stare at someone for an uncomfortable amount of time. 

There are plenty of cringe-worthy moments in movies that can make you feel awkward just watching them. You may even feel physically uncomfortable watching them. 

But don’t forget to laugh it off! A little comedic relief can be a great reminder not to take yourself too seriously… at least you’re not [super socially awkward character].

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How do I know if I am socially inept?

The key signs of being socially inept or socially awkward include feeling super nervous in social situations, experiencing a lot of awkward silence in the conversation, or noticing people avoid conversation with you. You may not pick up on social cues, say offensive things, or accidentally blurt out inappropriate comments.  

What do you call someone who is socially inept?

Someone who is socially inept may be called an outcast, strange, socially awkward, weird, shy, nerdy, reserved, or odd. Often socially awkward people can feel incredibly lonely due to being ostracized in social situations or getting bullied. Thankfully, basic social skills overcome social ineptitude. 

Is it OK to be socially inept?

Being socially inept is not necessarily bad, but it may lead to disappointing or embarrassing social interactions. You may feel ostracized from peer groups or unable to connect to others. It can also lead to constantly overthinking what you did wrong in social situations.   

Are introverts socially inept?

Introverted people are not necessarily socially inept. Many introverts are socially savvy individuals that need time to recharge between social events. 

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Being socially inept isn’t very fun. But if you’re really serious about improving, try our conversation course. In this ultimate conversation course, you’ll learn:

  • How to sound confident and assertive in any conversation
  • The #1 secret of master conversationalists
  • How to gracefully end a conversation when it’s time to go
  • How to encourage People To Open Up
  • To never run out of things to say or have awkward silences again
  • …And more!

Check out our conversation course today:

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Do you struggle with small talk? Do you often run out of things to say or feel awkward and self-conscious in social situations? Conversation Mastery teaches you the secrets of master conversationalists and gives you the skills you need to have confident, engaging, and captivating conversations with anyone, anywhere.

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If you want to stop feeling like this while socializing:

And start feeling like this:

Remember these key tips for being socially savvy and avoiding awkwardness:

  • Learn the power of confident body language: Posture, personal space, eye contact, and facial expressions are super important cues for making others feel at ease in conversation with you. Don’t forget to stand up straight, maintain 12-18″ of distance from people, balance a few seconds of eye contact with blinking and to glance away, and smile
  • Change your social identity: Stop calling yourself “socially awkward” and replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Anyone can become socially savvy, but first, you have to believe it’s possible. 
  • Be an active, empathetic listener: Instead of spending whole conversations in your head wondering what to say next, focus on listening and relating to other people. Leaning slightly forward, occasionally nodding your head, and making regular eye contact are key communication tactics for telling someone you care about what they’re saying. Practice empathy by trying to put yourself in their shoes and find similarities between your experiences. 
  • Avoid specific phrases and topics: Controversial and taboo issues are the source of awkwardness! Don’t forget to think before you talk and avoid discussing things like politics, religion, sex, personal matters, or gossip. 
  • Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself: Remember that everyone has socially awkward experiences. The best thing you can do is laugh it off, apologize (if necessary), and keep the conversation flowing.  

Continue building your social skills and forging new connections with our Ultimate Guide on How to Make Friends.

Signs, Causes, and How to Overcome It

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Social awkwardness is when you feel uncomfortable and out of place in social situations. It feels unpleasant, but being socially awkward has some benefits, too.

Social situations, especially when meeting new people, can be awkward. You may worry about saying the wrong thing, or say nothing at all while you overthink about saying the wrong thing. There might be some awkward laughing and uncomfortable silence.

This is all typical from time to time. But if this is your everyday experience, it can be draining. And you’re not the only one to experience this.

According to psychologist Ty Tashiro’s book “Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome,” around 15% of people have social skill challenges and communication difficulties that are considered to make them socially awkward.

In many cases, social awkwardness comes from extreme anxiety. Social anxiety is more than just feeling shy. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that 12.1% of U.S. adults experience a social anxiety disorder at some time in their lives.

When you’re in a social situation, social awkwardness may mean that you are:

  • fidgeting
  • sweating
  • having difficulty talking
  • feeling self-conscious
  • avoiding eye contact
  • unable to read body language
  • feeling anxious

Awkwardness, anxiety, and introversion

It’s important to note that the terms social awkwardness, introversion, and social anxiety disorder are often confused with each other. While they share some traits, they are not the same thing.

If you feel drained by interacting with others and need to spend time alone to recharge your energy, this may point to an introverted personality trait.

On the other hand, if you feel intense anxiety over being judged, avoid social situations through fear, or experience panic attacks related to socializing, this could signal social anxiety disorder, according to Dr. Nicholette Leanza, LPCC-S of LifeStance Health.

Is social awkwardness a good thing?

While it feels uncomfortable at the time, there are upsides to being socially awkward.

For example, “people who are socially awkward may be more observant and analytical, which can be beneficial in certain professions,” explains Dr. Alejandro Alva, a medical doctor and board certified psychiatrist based in California.

“They may also be more honest and sincere, which can be refreshing in a world of small talk and superficial interactions.”

How do I know if I’m socially awkward?

Consider reflecting after the next few social interactions to gauge how you feel afterward. This may help you decide how to best move forward.

Know that whether it’s social awkwardness, introversion, or social anxiety disorder, none of these are wrong — and you are not alone.

PsychCentral spoke to Leanza and Alva about how to overcome social awkwardness so you can start to feel more at ease in social situations.

Alva suggests the following tips for overcoming social awkwardness:

  • Practice small talk. Consider striking up a conversation with a stranger, such as commenting on the weather.
  • Make an effort to make eye contact. This may help you appear more confident and approachable.
  • Focus on the other person. Ask questions and really listen to the answers. This will help you connect with them and help the conversation flow more easily.
  • Try to relax and be yourself. Remember that everyone has their quirks, and you’ll be more likely to find a connection with someone by being yourself.

Leanza says it may help to practice understanding social cues. One way to do this is to focus on body language.

“It can be very difficult for socially awkward people to read other people’s body language or behavior,” says Leanza. “Since social cues and norms can be very hard for them to decipher, this can develop a lot of anxiety within a person and may make them want to avoid social situations.”

You can increase your social confidence by learning how to better understand social cues and the body language of others. “Practicing with loved ones to learn these skills can be very helpful, especially when needing to be in an upcoming social situation,” suggests Leanza.

If you find that your social awkwardness is making a negative impact life, you can also consider speaking to a mental health professional. Psych Central’s How to Find Mental Health Support resource may help.

Different communication styles

When you’re looking to improve communication, it’s important to note that each person’s style and manner of communication are different. This article mainly focuses on neurotypical styles of communication.

Neurodivergent folks, including autistic people, may communicate in different ways. For instance, avoiding eye contact and fidgeting may help them concentrate better or feel more comfortable in conversation and doesn’t always mean disinterest.

Using different communication styles doesn’t necessarily mean that the communication is less effective, though it often requires communicating with greater thoughtfulness and intention.

You can read Healthline’s “Neurotypical’s Guide to Speaking to Someone with Autism” here.

If you’re socially awkward, you can still have a thriving social life. You might start by getting to know yourself better and understanding how you feel in social settings, then trying some of the tips from our mental health experts to see if they help.

If you’ve felt socially awkward for a long time, it helps to be patient with yourself and give yourself the grace to overcome your nerves over time.

There are plenty of podcasts and even meditations to help you with the “social” part of social awkwardness.

7 Easy Ways to Get Rid of Social Awkwardness

  • We all get into awkward social situations at times, but for some people, communicating with others becomes a constant problem.
  • To improve your social skills, remember to focus on the other person - or try taking an improv course.

Each of us has experienced socially awkward situations once or twice.

You walk towards the person to hug them and they try to shake your hand so you end up slapping them on the back. nine0009

The girl you asked for a date asks you which ice cream you like more - vanilla or chocolate, and for some reason you decide to tell her about the time when you threw up after vanilla ice cream.

There's a good chance you're not as socially incompetent as you think you are. But even just thinking of yourself as awkward can undermine your confidence in social situations.

To boost your self-confidence, we studied a Quora thread called "What do you think are the best ways to improve your social skills?" and noted some practical advice from there. nine0009

We can't promise that you'll never run into embarrassing situations like this again, but hopefully these tips will help you enjoy your social interactions instead of being terrified of them.

Note that if social anxiety is interfering with your ability to function on a daily basis, you should see a therapist who can provide you with more helpful tools to calm down.

Be present

We are so used to mental and physical multitasking that we may not even realize how it can turn off our interlocutors.

“When you're around someone but distracted by other thoughts or emotions, people notice,” writes Eva Glasrud. “Perhaps your eyes give you away or your reactions may be a little slow. Or maybe you did it as obviously as possible, using a mobile phone when you “listened” to the interlocutor.

Glasrud ​​continues his thought: “So you make people feel negative. It's like they don't matter to you. Or you're just being insincere." nine0009

The ability to focus on where you are right now is called awareness, which you can develop gradually through practice, such as focusing on your breathing and your feelings in the present moment.

Focus on the other person

“The best thing I've learned about improving social skills is to think about the other person instead of thinking about yourself,” says Jennifer McGinnis. "Instead of thinking about how I'm doing or how I look, I think about the other person and how they feel right now." nine0009

There is a good chance that your interlocutor is experiencing the same discomfort as you - and acknowledging this fact will help you relax.

Act like it's "the way it is"

In other words, pretend until it works.

Deborah Crawford writes about this:

“Behave as if you already have excellent social skills. What does it look like? Act like you are the host of any meeting you attend and make other people feel accepted. Smile, make short eye contact and say hello.” nine0009

Crawford is definitely right about something. A growing body of research suggests that you can change your emotions simply by changing your behavior. For example, smiling can make you feel happier, and applying a "strong posture" can make you more confident.

Practice and reflect

Social awkwardness is like a vicious circle. The worse you feel, the less likely you are to talk to people, which only adds to your discomfort. nine0009

This is why Quora user Jeremy Mifsad recommends in a now-deleted comment to deliberately enter as many social situations as possible as an experiment:

“The easiest way to improve your social skills is to consciously enter into social situations. After that, think about what you liked, as well as what you would like to repeat in each situation.

Attend improvisation courses

Hari Alipuriya invites everyone else who is uncomfortable in social situations to follow his example and go to the improvisational theater:

“Most social awkwardness is the result of overthinking. These thoughts are the result of fear. Improvisation makes you live the moment. Instead of thinking about myself, I actively listen and add to what other people tell me.”

This brings us back to McGinnis's idea that you should redirect your focus away from yourself, from what can go wrong and what mistakes you've made in the past, and focus instead on the conversation itself. nine0009

Team up with a person whose social skills are better

“I have found that a great way to increase my social openness is to make friends who are much more outgoing than I am,” writes Ankit Seti.

“I go to social events with them, they help me introduce myself to new people and thus give me a “starter social credit” with these people, because thanks to the association with these sociable friends I don’t have to start everything from scratch - I already I have their location, at least some. nine0009

"Another benefit of this approach is that they are much more comfortable with short conversations, allowing you to intervene if you have something to say, or remain silent if you have nothing to say. "

At some point, you will begin to calmly relate to communicating with people on your own, without the support of your sociable comrades.

Ask questions

Don't use every interaction as an opportunity to show your values ​​and beliefs to others. Think about how you can help the other person feel more relaxed and give them more space to express their thoughts and feelings. nine0009

“Instead of rushing to insert your point of view, ask questions,” states Karen Engdahl. “Don't interrupt. Don't force yourself to fill the silence with chatter."

What to do if you feel uncomfortable all the time

October 24, 2021 A life

Shyness and low self-esteem sometimes interfere with life. Lifehacker asked psychologists what to do in such cases.

Who are prone to social awkwardness

1. People with a certain personality type

Most often they are psychasthenics - often doubtful, anxious people who find it difficult to approach strangers and start a new business.

Olesya Zvagolskaya

Psychologist, teacher of psychology.

Awkwardness, a feeling of embarrassment, stiffness are most characteristic of pronounced introverts who are used to communicating closely only with a narrow circle of people, as well as individuals with increased anxiety. Such people are worried that they can give the wrong answer, offend the interlocutor, or look inappropriate. nine0009

2. Insecure people

A person of any type of personality can feel uncomfortable in society if before that he was condemned by peers or parents for a long time. Even very sociable and optimistic people can lose self-esteem under the influence of negative experiences and being in an aggressive social environment.

Is it necessary to fight it

A shy person is usually not the ringleader and life of the company. However, such people often have other important qualities, such as sensitivity and delicacy. A typical example is director Woody Allen, whose natural shyness did not prevent him from becoming famous all over the world. So the main thing is to accept yourself as you are, and learn how to use it. nine0009

Grigory Bakhin

Practicing psychologist, executor of personal services online service.

Awkwardness is not always a bad quality to fight against. Rather, it is a good diagnostic feature that helps you deal with your inner world. In some situations, awkwardness can act as an additional opportunity to communicate with the right person and establish emotional contact with him.

If the feeling of awkwardness prevents you from living and achieving your goals, try to change your attitude towards this trait and develop new behavioral strategies. You can't completely change your personality type. nine0009

Ilya Shabshin

Psychologist-consultant, author of books.

It is pointless to struggle with characterological qualities. This is not something bad, not a flaw, but part of your personality. You need to know about it and take it into account when making decisions. For example, do not go to the special forces.

How to get rid of awkwardness

1. Define your goal precisely

In any business, a plan and an understanding of your goals do not hurt. Think about the situations in which awkwardness interferes with you: in communication with the opposite sex, with superiors and officials, with new people or with acquaintances too? Imagine what will change in your life when you overcome your social awkwardness. This will help you understand yourself better and encourage you to take further action. nine0009

Olesya Zvagolskaya

Psychologist, teacher of psychology.

It is always worth first to be puzzled by the inner side of the issue, namely the alignment of self-esteem and the elimination of anxiety, and then specific communication techniques.

2. See if you can handle it yourself

Sometimes self-doubt and increased anxiety can be signs of social phobia and other serious disorders. There are tests on the Internet to determine the level of depression and the presence of social phobia, but it is better not to get involved in self-diagnosis. If you suspect something like this, contact a specialist. nine0009

3. Start small

This is a universal tip for all situations, but it's especially important here. If a person of the psychasthenic type expects too much from himself, this will only aggravate everything. There are trainings in which you need to approach strangers on the street and ask them for money or hugs. You should not start with such exercises if they scare you to death.

4. Know thyself

The root of many problems is that a person imagines himself not as he really is. The more we know ourselves, the less we are afraid to seem ridiculous and not like someone. nine0009

Our biggest fear is not meeting our own expectations. The feeling of awkwardness arises when we perform an act that is at odds with the illusion about ourselves.

You need to understand your true features and allow yourself to make mistakes, because no one is immune from them.


Change the focus of attention

When a person is embarrassed, he completely focuses on himself and his feelings. Instead, turn your attention to others, become genuinely interested in someone's life or story. In the end, it may even be dishonest: perhaps your opponent did not even notice your timidity or oversight, and you no longer listen to him at all and withdraw into yourself. nine0009

6. Choose Your Social Circle Carefully

It is very difficult to increase self-esteem if your loved ones make fun of you or assert themselves at your expense. Get rid of such pseudo-friends, and keep such colleagues and relatives at a maximum distance.

7. Keep records

Make a plan, write down all the successes, patterns of phrases for communication. There is no shame in using cheat sheets for self-development. In addition, written information is better absorbed.

8. Read books on psychology and self-development

Many of them really help to change life dramatically. For awkward people, we especially recommend books on body language and facial expressions, such as The New Body Language by Allan and Barbara Pease and Difficulties in Communication by Andrey Kurpatov.

9. Just wait

As people get older, they gain experience and are less sensitive to the opinions of others. So to some extent the problem will be solved by itself. Of course, this option is only suitable if shyness and shyness do not greatly interfere with your life. nine0009

10. Don't take it personally

Remember, if someone is rude or reticent, it's probably not about you. Probably, this person behaves like this with everyone or is simply not in a good mood. Insecure people are often too suspicious and take any negativity personally.

But we are not responsible for other people's behavior, but we can control our own.

11. Know your worth when trying to make contact

Avoid negativity, but don't fawn or be silent if you've been offended.

Learn more