It’s just amazing how fast technology has gone from a handful of steam-powered mechanical inventions to VR, IA, quantum computing, the blockchain and nanobots! In 30 years, we’ve completely changed the whole concept of ‘social interaction’ and it’s great! We’re now connected to more people than ever before, but this doesn’t mean we’re not lonely.
In fact, while we may believe that a primarily online social life is healthy enough, it’s actually hardwired into our DNA to need face-to-face interaction and physical contact with other human beings, so depriving ourselves of this can cause all sorts of mental health chaos. For women, it’s even more imperative as our children learn their social behaviour directly from us. That’s a huge reason why being more social is important in this day and age and here’s how to do it:
1. Ensure you’re doing it for the right reasons
Despite what we’ve said above, if you’re not being social for the right reasons, it won’t have a positive effect. If you’re only going out and socialising because:
- Your friends constantly nag you to go to that club you don’t really like
- Your mum told you to join that book club and you don’t want to let her down
- You’ve just read an excellent and pretty convincing online article telling you being social is embedded in your DNA and you’ll likely end up with depression if you don’t
You’re not doing it for the right reasons; however, if you’re socialising because you enjoy it, it brings you happiness and it’s fun, then you’re on the right track. Don’t bow down to pressure – do the things you love, even if that’s just a quiet night in with a couple of good friends or participating in a hobby you love – you do you!
2. Initiate conversation with someone
“So, nice weather we’ve been having”… yep – the fine art of initiating a conversation is one of those things people have struggled with for millenia, so don’t feel bad if you’re no Oprah Winfrey when it comes to public speaking and socialising skills. The most important thing to remember is that the person you’re meeting isn’t concentrating much on what you’re saying because they’re probably just as worried about what you think of them!
The second most important thing to remember is most people like to talk about themselves, so learning a few icebreakers with this in mind can be very handy. So, take a deep breath, relax and try some of these examples:
- Wow, I love your dress/shoes/hair – where did you get it (or get it done)? It’s great!
- Ugh, this heat reminds me of my trip to India last year – Have you ever been overseas?
- So, how did you meet (mutual friend)?
- That person over there reminds me of that main guy from the Avengers (or other famous person from a popular show) – have you ever seen that movie/show? What’s your favourite movie/show?
3. Try & be a good listener
No matter who they are, people feel valued when they feel heard and understood. To make someone feel valued in this way, make sure you take the time to actually listen in a thoughtful way. Try not to interrupt them while they’re speaking and ask relevant follow-up questions when they’ve finished. By using empathy and showing that you’re listening with genuine interest, you’ll be a good listener and strengthen the social bond between you and the person you’re talking to.
4. Give compliments freely
The old saying ‘flattery will get you everywhere’ is true. Who doesn’t love receiving compliments? Just make sure they’re genuine and don’t make them feel uncomfortable by overdoing it.
5. Instigate & Host a monthly catch up
If you don’t organise regular catch-ups with family or friends, they probably won’t happen, so why not? Invite them around for a nice quiet dinner or BBQ and ask them to bring a plate to lower the cost. This is a great idea for people with kids who can’t get out often, or people who like a more quiet, personal environment.
6. Drop those antisocial habits
If you’re pushing friends away because you’re making a fool of yourself or causing pain by binge drinking, drug taking or anything else, you’ll already be aware of this and it might be time to rein it in a bit and seek professional help. You’ll thank yourself later, trust us.
Even things you might not think are too antisocial – like smoking cigarettes – are really hurting your ability to connect with others socially. You know you want to quit, but quitting is so hard, so why not try switching to something more socially acceptable and less damaging to yourself, such as electronic cigarettes? Not only can they help you to quit for good eventually, but in the meantime, you’ll save heaps of money, smell better, have less reason to go out for a cig every 10 minutes and in many cases, can vape in areas where you definitely couldn’t smoke! Check out the range at Vape Store and learn more about vaping.
Once you start getting out there and being social, you’ll find it easier and easier to meet new people and be less socially awkward. The more people you know IRL, the more you’ll be invited to social events, so those first steps are a total win-win!