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Are You Socially Awkward?

Does the thought of meeting new people make you nervous? Do you find yourself unsure of what to say or do in social situations? Are you socially awkward? Even confident, successful people can feel awkward in certain situations. Interacting with others effectively is an art. Much of it we pick up naturally as we develop into adults through observing others; however, sometimes those observations can steer us in the wrong direction.

Are You Socially Awkward?

Learning how to not be socially awkward takes a combination of observation, learning to pick up on social cues, and sometimes being directly taught what to do and what not to do. It’s about becoming self-aware and paying attention to how others react to what you say and do. The following are mistakes some people make in social settings:

  1. You Don’t Listen. Failure to listen can lead to hurt feelings, miscommunication and the perception of awkward or even uncaring. Still, people feel compelled to start talking more and listen less when they feel nervous. If you’re not listening, it’s hard to respond appropriately and if you don’t respond right then you just may be a little socially awkward.

    Don’t be afraid of uncomfortable silences. There are worse things than a brief lull in conversation, like stammering or blabbing out things you don’t mean to say. Concentrate instead on listening closely, without thinking about what you’re going to say next. Learn to accept and embrace silent moments as times to process. If you tend to talk fast, slow down. Deliberate speech is much more powerful.
  2. You Interrupt Others. People who interrupt are perceived as rude, arrogant, and as having poor social skills. This goes hand in hand with not listening. However, you can listen and care about what the other person is saying, yet still be guilty of interrupting. Learning not to speak over others is an important part of being socially savvy.

    Interrupting can also cause major miscommunications. It can make the other person believe you don’t care about what they think or feel. Practicing good listening will help you curb your urge to jump in before the other person is finished. If you have to, consciously stop yourself and take a three second pause before you respond. This will keep you from interrupting and from monopolizing the conversation.
  3. You Don’t Introduce People by Name. When you’re introducing two or more people who don’t know each other, always use everyone’s name. Too often you hear people introduced as a wife or friend, for example. Not only does it create an awkward moment, but it’s disrespectful to introduce a person by a title instead of using their actual name. Very often people do this without even realizing it or meaning to be disrespectful.

    Step one in avoiding this kind of social awkwardness is to remember people’s names. You know the names of your loved ones, but you should also take the time to learn the names of the people you work with and associate with on a daily basis. Learning and remembering names could keep you from being stuck in a socially awkward situation later.
  4. You Haven’t Mastered the Art of Small Talk. If you’re only conversation started is about the weather, you could stand to learn the art of small talk. Comments on the weather or the traffic may often portray you as socially awkward. Forced conversations in general are awkward, but when you don’t know someone at all, it’s hard to just jump in. After all, you can’t talk about shared interests when you don’t know what that person’s interests are.

    The trick to successful small talk is to keep it interesting for the other people. An almost foolproof way to do that is to get them talking about themselves. Not only do most people enjoy talking about themselves, but allowing them to do so takes the pressure to make conversation off of you. Don’t just listen silently. Ask questions people can give meaningful answers. Hopefully they’ll reciprocate with similar questions and the conversation will have substance.
  5. You Don’t Realize You’re Being Offensive. You might continually find yourself in awkward social situations because you were offensive without meaning to be. Nerves and lack of confidence can be conquered, but if you’re inadvertently offending people with your words and actions it may be time to figure out why.

    Although it’s difficult to always avoid offending someone, some people seem to enjoy finding reasons to be offended. You can avoid it most of the time by becoming more sensitive. Be socially sensitive to how your words affect other people. Don’t speak harshly. You can be forceful and get your point across without being harsh. Think before you speak. Lastly, remember if you use bad language, one is bound to slip out at the wrong time.
  6. You Call Yourself Socially Awkward. If you’re doing some of the above and more or even heard yourself referred to as socially awkward, that doesn’t mean you are inherently weird or doomed. If you’re the one referring to yourself as socially awkward, maybe it’s time to stop. Instead, let others draw their own conclusions before you call yourself out.

Admit to yourself where your weaknesses are and work to correct them. Don’t be your own worst enemy by beating yourself up or making fun of yourself in front of others. Plenty of people struggle with feeling uncomfortable in new social situations. Knowing you’re not the only one who feels this way should give you the confidence to overcome some of your issues.

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