Socially Awkward: As humans, we’re meant to be social creatures. Having friends makes us happier and healthier—in fact, being socially connected is key to our mental and emotional health. Yet many of us are shy and socially introverted. We feel awkward around unfamiliar people, unsure of what to say, or worried about what others might think of us. This can cause us to avoid social situations, cut ourselves off from others, and gradually become isolated and lonely.
Loneliness is a common problem among people of all ages and backgrounds, and yet it’s something that most of us hesitate to admit. But loneliness is nothing to feel ashamed about. Sometimes, it’s a result of external circumstances: you’ve moved to a new area, for example. In such cases, there are lots of steps you can take to meet new people and turn acquaintances into friends.
Socially Awkward Penguin
Social norms and cues, such as knowing when to say hello or giving people personal space, help you navigate social situations. You might have been directly taught some of these norms. Others, you might’ve picked up on by watching others.
When you witness someone fumbling one of these norms, you might cringe internally and feel embarrassed for the other person. Likewise, you probably feel your stomach turn over when you botch an introduction to someone new or slip up on your words.
But social awkwardness doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, it might even benefit you in some ways. But that doesn’t make it any less distressing in the moment.
Here’s a look at signs of social awkwardness, tips for overcoming it, and reasons why it might not be such a negative thing.
Socially Awkward Meme
Social awkwardness, researcher Joshua Clegg EXPLAINS, is the feeling we experience when we believe that our desire for being accepted by others is threatened in a given situation. This feeling incites us to turn inward, increase our self-monitoring, and attempt to behave in ways that will better our chances for acceptance.
People who are consistently socially awkward have certain traits in common, Dr. Ty Tashiro EXPLAINS. Socially awkward individuals:
- Fail to notice minor social expectations
- Find routine social situations difficult to traverse
- Can have unusually intense focus, particularly on topics governed by rules, such as logic or mathematics
- Often show enthusiasm for taking things apart, studying the components, then methodically reassembling the parts differently
- Are less intuitive when it comes to social graces
While social awkwardness may be uncomfortable, it is not necessarily a bad thing, Tashiro explains. With more intense focus comes certain skills in systematic thinking. In fact, socially awkward individuals often excel in specialized areas, bringing a unique perspective to their work and lives.
Another feature of social awkwardness is how often it is mischaracterized as other personality traits or mental health conditions. Comprehending these differences is key to ensuring individuals get the understanding and support they need to thrive.
While social awkwardness may describe an alternative way of living in the world, social anxiety is a defined medical condition that can cause severe social impairment. According to the Social Anxiety Institute, social anxiety disorder (SAD) DESCRIBES an intense, recurrent state of emotional stress in social situations. Individuals with SAD may fear:
- Being introduced to others
- Teasing or criticism
- Being the center of attention
- Being watched while doing something
- Meeting authority figures
- Social encounters, especially with those whom they don’t know
- Public speaking, even in small groups
- Interpersonal relationships
When placed in these situations, those who suffer from SAD may experience physiological symptoms, such as a racing heart, excessive sweating, trembling, difficulty swallowing, or other reactions. While individuals who are socially awkward may or may not address their awkwardness, those with SAD suffer from a disorder that often requires treatment.
How To Not Be Socially Awkward
You’re in a room full of strangers. Your cheeks are turning red, your palms are sweaty and you just can’t get the words outright. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Most people feel uncomfortable in social situations every now and then. Even people who look like they’re completely cool can be a bundle of nerves on the inside.
The more you experience uncomfortable social situations, the more familiar you will become with the triggers that make you feel this way. Next time, instead of running in the opposite direction, but the following tips into action. Visit my site: Brisksync.com
- It’s not a performance: It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that those around you are judging how ‘successful’ you are at socializing and being charming. They’re not. There’s no need to impress anyone! Everyone socializes differently, and there’s no right or wrong way to go about it.
- Don’t focus on what you aren’t: Sometimes, if we feel uncomfortable in social situations it’s because we’re comparing ourselves to those around us. We notice how that guy has great hair, or how that girl makes everyone laugh. Instead of trying to measure up to others, focus on what you bring to the table.
- Ask questions: Simple fact: most people LOVE to talk about themselves. Asking people questions allows them to do the talking while you ease yourself into a social situation. Before you go out, think of a few generic questions you can ask. Some examples include: ‘Have you read any good books lately?’; “Have you seen [insert title of latest movie blockbuster]?’; ‘What are you studying?’; ‘What music are you listening to at the moment?’
- Try some positive self-talk: If you feel really nervous before a social situation, try saying to yourself: ‘I feel confident and comfortable.’ Repeat it out loud or in your head as many times as you like. It may seem cheesy and ridiculous, but positive self-talk really works.
- Take a friend: You’re more likely to feel relaxed if there’s a familiar face close by. Ask a friend to go with you the next time you think you might feel socially awkward.
- Pay someone a compliment: Next time you see someone wearing a cool T-shirt, let them know you like their style. Genuine compliments make people feel good and are a great icebreaker.
- Mind your body language: Having open, relaxed body language makes everyone feel more comfortable. It also shows that you’re listening. Smile and try to maintain eye contact to show you’re interested in what others are saying.
- Smile: Smiling will make you more approachable, and it can actually trick your brain into thinking that you’re happy. Ha! Take that, brain!
Socially Awkward Definition
Most awkward people can solve complex mathematical equations with ease. But put them in a casual social gathering, and they’ll find small talk mind-boggling. Ty Tashiro, a psychologist and the author of Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome, says socially awkward people feel out of sync with those around them. Tashiro, who acknowledges he’s awkward, says his interactions are anything but smooth.
And while he admits it can make for some sticky personal and uncomfortable professional interactions, he also says being awkward isn’t all bad. In fact, he’s uncovered some pretty distinct advantages that awkward people may enjoy. To explain how awkward people see things a little differently, Tashiro says most people see their social world in the center part of the stage. But awkward people see their social interactions a little left of center.
So while that does mean awkward people will miss some things, they also see other things with more clarity. And seeing things differently can provide an advantage in today’s competitive world. Many people appreciate spending time with someone who is a little different. Awkward people can offer a slightly different perspective on life, which many people find refreshing. Tashiro says awkward people like to “nerd out” about the things they love. And quite often, the nerd stereotypes fit. Research shows awkward people tend to excel in math, science, and tech.
They love the scientific method and the rules associated with math. They thrive on being able to solve complex problems (as long as those problems don’t involve relationship issues or communication breakdowns). Tashiro says awkward people prefer to skip the first five minutes of small talk in a conversation. They want to get right down to business and focus on the subjects they find exciting. Awkward may be almost obsessed with understanding how things work. Or they may be intent on studying chemical compounds. Whatever it is they’re interested in, they’re persistent in their efforts to learn more.
Tashiro says an awkward person’s intense focus can lead to hours of deliberate practice, which is the key to mastering almost any skill. He says that’s often what is behind many ground-breaking innovations.
Embrace Awkwardness or Sharpen Your Social Skills?
Tashiro says most people feel awkward at one time or another. In fact, the average person exhibits 32 percent of the characteristics associated with being socially awkward.
Tashiro explains that being awkward may be in your genes. It’s estimated that it’s 50 percent inheritable in boys and 38 percent inheritable in girls. So it isn’t something you’re likely to outgrow or change overnight.
But, he says you can simultaneously work on sharpening your social skills. “Many awkward people use the same tools to decode social situations as they do to solve scientific problems,” says Tashiro.
He recommends breaking down the parts of social interactions into smaller segments, like manners, greetings, expectations, and saying good-bye. Then, observe others and practice new social strategies. Over time, you may grow more comfortable in social situations.
But Tashiro is quick to add that awkward person shouldn’t feel compelled to change. “Kind people don’t look down on awkward people,” he says. “And awkward people can be interesting, bright, and motivated, and they can be loyal friends.”
How To Stop Being Socially Awkward
When it comes to shyness and social awkwardness, the things we tell ourselves make a huge difference. Here are some common thinking patterns that can undermine your confidence and fuel social insecurity:
- Believing that you’re boring, unlikeable, or weird.
- Believing that other people are evaluating and judging you in social situations.
- Believing that you’ll be rejected and criticized if you make a social mistake.
- Believing that being rejected or socially embarrassed would be awful and devastating.
- Believing that what others think about you defines who you are.
If you believe these things, it’s no wonder social situations seem terrifying! But the truth is never quite so black-and-white.
People aren’t thinking about you—at least not to the degree that you think. Most people are caught up in their own lives and concerns. Just like you’re thinking about yourself and your own social concerns, other people are thinking about themselves. They’re not spending their free time judging you. So stop wasting time worrying about what others think of you.
Many other people feel just as awkward and nervous as you do. When you’re socially anxious, it can seem as though everyone else is an extrovert brimming with self-confidence. But that’s not the case. Some people are better at hiding it than others, but there are many introverted people out there struggling with the same self-doubts as you are. The next person you speak to is just as likely to be worried about what you think of them!
People are much more tolerant than you think. In your mind, the very idea of doing or saying something embarrassing in public is horrifying. You’re sure that everyone will judge you. But in reality, it’s very unlikely that people are going to make a big deal over a social faux pas. Everyone has done it at some point so most will just ignore it and move on.
What is socially awkward behavior?
However, socially awkward people feel nervous in social settings even as part of the audience. Social phobia or social anxiety is the correct term to describe the behavior of a socially awkward person in such situations.
Is socially awkward a disorder?
Yet the symptoms involve more than simply being shy or socially awkward. Avoidant personality disorder causes significant problems that affect the ability to interact with others and maintain relationships in day-to-day life. About 1% of the general population has an avoidant personality disorder.
How do you know if you’re socially awkward?
- Eye contact. Looking someone in the eyes is incredibly difficult for me.
- Preparation of Conversations.
- Being out in a crowd.
- Any relationship.
- Laughing at inappropriate times.
- Being left alone with a friend of your friend.
- Facial Expressions.