“I’d love to be more outgoing and confident, but often I just don’t feel like socializing. When I do, I get nervous and don’t know what to say.”
I’m an introvert who spent most of my childhood alone. For years, I felt uncomfortable, nervous, and shy around people. Later in life, I learned how to overcome my awkwardness and become more outgoing:
To be more outgoing, practice being friendly and relaxed. That makes people comfortable and friendly in return. Remind yourself that everyone has insecurities. Doing so can help you feel more at ease. Take initiatives to meet up and be curious about people. This will help you bond faster.
But how do you do this in practice? That’s what we’ll cover in this guide.
Here’s how to be more outgoing:
I used to feel that everyone noticed me whenever I entered a room. It felt like they judged me for being nervous and awkward.
In reality, we tend to overestimate how much attention others pay us. Realizing this can help you be more outgoing because you won’t be so worried about what everyone else thinks of you.
The spotlight effect makes us feel that we stand out. In reality, we don’t.
Everyone is busy thinking about themselves. It might feel as though there’s a spotlight on you at all times, but this isn’t the case.
You may be surprised to learn that many other people share your insecurities. Look at this chart:
- 1 in 10 have had social anxiety at some point in their lives.
- 1 in 3 millennials say they have no close friends.
- 5 out of 10 see themselves as shy.[4, 5]
- 5 out of 10 don’t like the way they look. (Only 4% of women feel comfortable describing themselves as beautiful.
- 8 of 10 feel uncomfortable being the center of attention.
We often assume that we are more nervous and awkward than everyone else. The problem is that we judge people by their observable behavior. If someone else appears calm, it’s easy to conclude that they are relaxed. But you cannot know how they feel inside, so making these kinds of comparisons isn’t helpful.
Take a look at this photo:
Some people in the photo appear confident, but they all have insecurities, even if they are good at hiding them. Just like you, they sometimes have bad days or moments of self-doubt.
Changing your perspective can help you see the world more realistically. I call this recalibration. Recalibration also shows us when our incorrect, unhelpful beliefs don’t hold true. In this case, we can see that beliefs like “Everyone else is more relaxed than me” simply aren’t correct. Taking a more realistic view makes the world less threatening.
Whenever you walk into a room, remind yourself that beneath the calm surface, most people are hiding some kind of insecurity. Many of them will be feeling socially awkward. Remembering this can relieve some of the pressure you put on yourself, which in turn helps you to be more social.
If you feel nervous or shy, read this guide that tells you how to be more confident.
I’m an overthinker. I’ve often had trouble picking something to talk about because there are always so many thoughts going through my mind.
Look at this photo:
Imagine that you say, “Hi, how are you doing?” and she replies:
“I’m good, I had this huge party yesterday, though, so I’m a bit hungover today.”
Here are the kind of thoughts that may go through your mind if you’re an overthinker:
“Uh oh, she’s probably much more social than I am, and she’s going to realize that I’m not as outgoing as she is. And she seems to have loads of friends, too. What should I say? I don’t want to come off as a loser!”
This kind of negative self-talk will not help you be more outgoing.
Instead of worrying about how you sound or what others think of you, focus on getting to know the person you’re talking to. When you do this, your brain starts coming up with useful questions that can keep a conversation going. You become more talkative. For example:
“How come she was throwing a party?”
“What was she celebrating?”
“Was she at the party with her friends, coworkers, or family?”
This example shows what happens when we stop comparing ourselves with someone else and try learning more about them instead.
When we focus on getting to know someone, we get curious. Questions start to come naturally. Think about what happens when you become absorbed in a movie. You start asking questions like, “Is she the real criminal?” or “Is he really her father?”
So if I were talking to the girl above, I could ask questions like “What were you celebrating?”or “Who were you celebrating with?”
It’s important to ask questions, but to have a balanced, back-and-forth conversation, you also need to share a little bit of information about yourself.
You might have a lot of interesting things to say, but if you don’t engage with anyone else during a conversation, people will get bored. On the other hand, if you ask someone too many questions, they will feel they are being interrogated.
So how do you get the balance right? By using the “IFR”-method:
You: “What have you been up to today?”
Them: “I slept until 2 pm, so I haven’t done anything actually.”
You: “Haha, oh. How come you were up so late?”
Them: “I was up all night preparing a presentation for work.”
You: “I see. I used to do all-nighters a few years ago.”
Now you can begin the cycle again:
You: “What was the presentation about?”
Them: “It was about a study on the environment that I just finished.”
You: “Interesting, what was your conclusion?”
As long as you pay close attention to what the other person is saying, your natural curiosity will kick in, and you will be able to come up with enough questions.
By using an IFR-IFR-IFR loop, you can make your conversations more interesting. You go back and forth, getting to know the other person and sharing a bit about yourself. Behavioral scientists call this a back-and-forth conversation.
In school, I was bullied for anything and everything. My brain “learned” that people would judge me. Even though I wasn’t bullied after I left school, I still had the same fear as an adult.
I tried to be perfect so that no one would pick on me. But this strategy didn’t make me feel more confident or outgoing, only more self-conscious. After all, it’s difficult to be social when you’re afraid of being judged.
Eventually, a friend of mine taught me a valuable lesson.
Instead of trying to be perfect, he had started to be completely open about all his flaws. He was a virgin for longer than most guys, and he was always petrified that people would find out. Finally, he decided to stop caring whether they knew.
It was as if he said, “OK, I give up, here are my flaws. Now that you know, do what you want with it.”
The judgemental voice in his head disappeared. There was no reason for him to be afraid that other people would discover his secret, so he wasn’t scared of their reaction anymore.
That doesn’t mean that my friend started telling everyone that he was a virgin. The important point is that his mindset had shifted. His new attitude was, “If anyone asked me whether I was a virgin, I would tell them instead of hiding it.”
Personally, I was obsessed with the size of my nose. I thought it was too big. As I became more obsessed, I started trying to angle myself in such a way that people never saw my profile.
Whenever I entered a room, I assumed that everyone focused on my nose. (I now know this was only in my head, but at the time, it felt very real.) I decided to try a new approach by not trying to hide my flaw.
I’m not suggesting you should try to convince yourself that you have no flaws. I didn’t try to make myself believe that I had a small nose. It’s about owning your flaws.
Everyone walks around comparing themselves to others, even though they can only see what’s on the surface.
To own your flaws is to realize that every human being has imperfections and that there’s no point in trying to hide yours. We should still work to improve ourselves, but there’s no need to conceal who we are.
My socially successful friends have told me that they face rejection all the time — and they like it.
I found this very hard to believe at first. I used to see rejection as a sign of failure to be avoided at all costs, but they always saw it as a sign of personal growth. To them, getting rejected means that you take the opportunities life gives you. If you are putting yourself in situations where you might be rejected, you are living life to the fullest.
It took me some time to wrap my head around this idea, but it makes sense. A life lived to the fullest is full of rejections, because the only way to not get rejected is to not take chances.
There are even games you can play to practice dealing with rejection.
Here’s what I do:
If I want to meet up someone, be it a girl I’m attracted to or a new acquaintance, I send them a text:
“It was nice talking with you. Want to grab a coffee next week?”
Two things can happen. If they say yes, that’s great! I’ve made a new friend. If I get rejected, that’s great too. I’ve grown as a person. And, best of all, I know that I didn’t miss out on an opportunity.
The next time you’re in a situation where you might be rejected, remind yourself that it’s a sign that you live life to the fullest.
I used to have a strong feeling that people wouldn’t like me. I think it stemmed from my time in elementary school, where some of the other kids used to bully me. But the problem was that long after school, I was still afraid that people wouldn’t want to be my friend.
I also had a conviction that people didn’t like me because of my big nose. As a defense against future rejection, I waited for others to be nice toward me before I dared to be nice toward them.
This diagram illustrates the problem:
Because I waited for others to be nice toward me first, I came off as distant. People responded by being distant in return. I assumed it was because of my nose.
In hindsight, this was illogical. One day, as an experiment, I tried to be warm toward people first. I didn’t think it would work, but the result surprised me. When I dared to be warm first, people were warm back!
This was a huge leap on my personal quest to be more outgoing.
Please note that being warm isn’t the same as being needy; warmth is an attractive quality, but being too needy will backfire.
I never had a problem being my true self when I was with my close friends, but around strangers — especially intimidating ones — I froze up. By “intimidating,” I mean anyone who happened to be tall, good-looking, loud, or confident. My adrenaline levels would spike, and I would go into fight-or-flight mode.
I even remember asking myself: “Why can’t I relax and be normal?”
A friend of mine, Nils, had the same problem. He tried to overcome it by doing crazy out-of-your-comfort-zone stunts.
Here are a few examples:
Laying down on a busy street
Speaking in front of a large crowd
Doing stand-up on the subway
Talking to every girl on the street he found attractive
These experiments show that you can learn how to be more outgoing fast. Unfortunately, Nils couldn’t keep doing these stunts on a regular basis. It was too exhausting.
To become more outgoing and move out of your comfort zone for good, you need to take a more sustainable approach. Try setting small goals that gradually increase in difficulty.
For example, your first goal could be to make eye contact with the barista at your favorite coffee shop the next time you go in. When you’ve accomplished that, you can set yourself a new goal of smiling and saying, “Hi.” The next step might be to make a simple comment or ask a polite question like, “How are you this morning?” or “Wow, it’s so warm today, isn’t it?”
For example, if you feel uneasy when talking to a stranger, you probably try to wrap the conversation up as soon as possible. Instead, try to stay in the conversation a bit longer, even if it’s uncomfortable.
The more hours we spend in awkward situations, the less they affect us!
Every time you feel nervous, try to stay where you are. The longer you allow yourself to feel nervous, the emptier your nervosity bucket becomes, and the more comfortable you feel.
I used to see nervousness as something bad and tried to avoid it. But when I started to stay in social situations for longer, I even started feeling good about being nervous. Being nervous was a sign that my bucket was emptying.
When that bucket is completely empty, you’ll be truly relaxed around people and stop freezing up. Using this method, you can train yourself how to feel less awkward.
If your inner voice is like a critic who puts you down and points out your flaws, you may feel inhibited and self-conscious. It’s difficult to be outgoing and confident when you think poorly of yourself.
For example, you might have thoughts like:
- “I’ll always be shy.”
- “I’m just not an outgoing person, and I never will be.”
- “I hate my personality.”
These thoughts reflect your self-limiting beliefs. It’s important to challenge these beliefs because they can hold you back from making positive changes. For instance, if you believe you aren’t capable of talking to people or being social, you probably won’t make any progress because you’ll stop bothering to try.
A good therapist can also help you identify and rework self-limiting beliefs.
We recommend BetterHelp for online therapy, since they offer unlimited messaging and a weekly session, and is much cheaper than going to an actual therapist's office. They are also cheaper than Talkspace for what you get. You can learn more about BetterHelp here.
Learning to talk to yourself in a kind, compassionate manner can help you challenge these unhelpful thoughts, improve your confidence, and become more outgoing.
Don’t assume that your self-criticisms are true. When an unhelpful belief pops up, ask yourself some questions: 
- Where does this belief come from?
- Is this belief useful?
- How does this belief hold me back?
- Does it make me act from a place of fear?
- Can I replace it with a more productive belief?
You can also ask yourself whether there is any evidence that a belief is untrue.
Many of our beliefs have their roots in childhood, and it isn’t easy to replace them. But if you can get into the habit of critically evaluating your thoughts instead of taking them at face value, you’ll start to develop a more realistic self-image.
For example, let’s say you think, “I never have anything interesting to say.”
After asking yourself the questions above, you might realize that the belief stems from your childhood and teen years when people commented on how quiet you are.
It’s not a useful belief, and it holds you back, because it makes you feel like a boring person, which makes you feel inhibited. It makes you operate from a place of fear because you are often worried that someone will call you “dull” or insult you for being uninteresting.
When you think about the evidence against this belief, you realize that you’ve had several good friends over the years who have enjoyed your company.
With these answers in mind, a more productive belief might be, “People have said I’m quiet, but I’ve enjoyed some stimulating conversations over the years, and I’ll have many more in the future.”
If you only talk about facts, your conversations will be dull. Asking questions that encourage the other person to tell you something about themselves will make the conversation more engaging.
Here’s a trick I use to make this conversation interesting: Ask a question containing the word “You.”
For example, if I was talking to someone about rising unemployment figures and the conversation was getting boring, I might say:
“Yeah, I hope that more people won’t lose their jobs. What kind of work would you do if you were to change jobs completely?”
“Did you dream about doing any particular kind of job when you were a kid?”
After they’ve replied, I would then relate by sharing some of my own job-dreams, using the IFR method I described above. By doing this, the conversation would get more personal and interesting. We’d get to know each other instead of swapping facts.
To be approachable and outgoing, we need to share things about ourselves when we talk to someone. I always used to feel uncomfortable doing this. I was more comfortable asking questions and getting to know others.
But for people to trust you and like you, they need to know a bit about who you are
There’s no need to share your innermost secrets, but give other people a glimpse of your real self.
Here are a few examples:
Maybe you’re talking about plants. You could say: “I remember growing tomatoes when I was a kid. Did you grow stuff as well?”
You don’t need to share something sensitive. Just show that you are human.
If you’re talking about Game of Thrones, you could say: “For some reason, I’ve never come around to watch it, but I did read the Narnia series some years ago. Are you into fantasy?”
If you’re talking about the price of apartment rent prices, you could say: “My dream is to one day live in a highrise with a great view. Where would you wanna live if you could live anywhere?”
As you can see, the principle works even for topics that might seem dull.
Notice that these examples all encourage back-and-forth conversation. Thoughtful questions and careful sharing helps you get to know someone else and gives them a chance to learn more about you.
Outgoing people use their body language and facial expressions to communicate their interest in other people and to show that they are friendly.
Here’s how you can do the same:
Making eye contact communicates that you are open and receptive to other people. As someone who was nervous and awkward when they were growing up, I know that it can be difficult.
Here are my tricks for keeping eye contact:
- The eye color trick: Try to determine the eye color of the person you talk to. When you do, you get preoccupied with trying to figure the color out, and it feels more natural to look them in the eye.
- The eye corner trick: If it feels too intense to look someone in the eyes, look them in the corner of their eye. Or, if you’re at least three feet from each other, you can look at their eyebrows.
- The focus-shift method: Focus all your attention on what someone is saying when they are talking. If you do, it feels more natural to keep eye contact. This technique requires practice.
You need to move your attention away from yourself and re-focus on what the other person is saying. This takes time to master, but it’s the most effective way to maintain eye contact because it makes you more relaxed.
If we don’t smile, social situations become harder to navigate. Humans smile to show that we have positive intentions. It’s one of the oldest of the techniques we use to let others know that we are friendly.
When I felt uncomfortable, I used a fake smile, or I forgot to smile altogether. But outgoing people have natural smiles, so you need to learn how to smile in an authentic, natural way.
If a smile isn’t genuine, it looks weird. Why? Because we forget to activate our eyes.
Here’s an exercise to try:
Go to a mirror and try producing a genuine smile. You should get small “crow’s feet” in the outer corners of your eyes. Pay attention to what a real smile feels like. When you need to appear warm and friendly, you’ll know whether your smile looks genuine because you’ll know how it should feel.
Try to avoid closed body language, such as crossing your arms or holding something over your stomach. These gestures signal that you feel nervous, annoyed, or vulnerable.
To appear more approachable:
- Work on your posture so that you look confident but not stiff. This video will help you develop good posture.
- Let your arms hang loosely by your sides when you’re standing up.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your feet firmly on the floor to prevent nervous rocking. Keep your legs uncrossed.
- Keep your hands visible, and do not clench your fists.
- Stand an appropriate distance away from other people. Too close, and you may make them feel uncomfortable. Too far, and you may come across as aloof. As a general rule, stand close enough that you could shake their hand, but no closer.
- Keep your phone in your pocket. Hiding behind a screen can make you appear nervous or bored.
For more tips, see this guide to confident body language.
High energy people appear more confident, dynamic, warm, and engaging. If you want to seem and feel more outgoing, try raising your energy.
Do you know someone who radiates positive energy? What kind of things do they talk about? How do they move? Visualize yourself behaving in a similar way, and experiment playing that role in social settings. It’s OK to fake it until it feels more natural.
Listen to some charismatic people. You’ll notice that even when they talk about mundane topics, their voices make them seem interesting. Monotonous voices are dull and draining to the ear, so vary your tone and volume in conversation.
For example, instead of saying, “Oh, I don’t know about that” in a tentative voice when you disagree with someone, say, “I see what you’re saying, but I disagree. I think…” You can be respectful whilst still standing up for yourself.
Express yourself using your body, not just your words. High-energy people tend to appear animated. They let their faces show their emotions and use hand gestures to emphasize their points. Be careful not to overdo it, or you’ll come off as manic. Practice your gestures in a mirror to get the balance right.
It’s hard to be upbeat when you feel sluggish. Try to get some exercise every day and eat a balanced diet that makes you feel energetic.
End a conversation while the energy in the room is still high. Make the other person feel good about themselves. This doesn’t require a lot of effort. Just smiling and saying something like, “It was awesome to see you! I’ll text you soon” works well.
Take every possible opportunity to practice basic social skills, such as small talk and using open body language. Practice with coworkers, neighbors, and anyone else you see regularly. In time, they could become friends.
Dog parks, cafes, gyms, libraries, and launderettes are all excellent places for meeting new people. Everyone is there for a particular purpose, so you already have something in common. For example, if you are at a library, it’s a fairly safe bet that you and the other people there enjoy reading.
Look on meetup.com or in your local newspaper or magazine for ongoing classes and groups that will help you meet new people. Don’t expect to make friends after a single meetup, but over time, you can build meaningful connections.
Maintain your existing friendships while meeting new people. Reach out every few weeks to friends and relatives you haven’t seen for a while. Dare to be the one who makes the first move. Ask them what they’ve been doing and whether they’d like to meet up soon.
Unless there’s a good reason you can’t attend, accept all invitations. You probably won’t always enjoy yourself, but every occasion is an opportunity to practice being social. If you can’t make it, offer to reschedule.
For example, instead of ordering all your groceries online, go to the store, and use the opportunity to make small talk with the cashier. Or rather than writing an email or using a chatbot to contact a company’s customer service department, pick up the phone and talk to a human being instead.
Ask friends and colleagues to introduce you to other people with similar interests. As you become more confident, you can also become a connector. If there’s a chance two people you know might like each other, offer to make an introduction. This can be the first step toward building a group of friends.
Here’s our in-depth guide on how to be more social.
Funny people are usually keen observers of the world around them. They point out contradictions and absurdities that make everyone see things in a new way. The funniest remarks are usually spontaneous and arise naturally from a situation.
Brief anecdotes about awkward situations you’ve found yourself in can be funny and can make you appear more likable.
Watch funny films and TV shows. Do not copy jokes or stories, but observe how characters deliver great lines and why they are effective. If jokes fall flat, ask yourself why. Try to learn from other people’s mistakes.
Fill in this Humor Styles Questionnaire to find out what kind of humor you tend to use. The questionnaire will also tell you how other people might perceive your jokes.
Self-deprecating humor is effective in moderation, but if you put yourself down too often, others might think you have low self-esteem. They may also feel uncomfortable because you have exposed your deep personal insecurities.
Reframe the experience as a learning opportunity. For example, if you think your joke was a little too self-deprecating and it made people uncomfortable, don’t be so harsh on yourself in the future. Or if you’ve misread your audience and they seem slightly offended, it might be best to avoid using similar humor next time.
Not everyone enjoys joking around, and some people only respond to very specific types of humor. Don’t take it personally if someone never laughs at any of your jokes or witty remarks.
Aside from light teasing with people you know well, don’t make jokes at someone else’s expense. It can easily turn into bullying, and you may inadvertently hit on one of their deepest insecurities.
If you accidentally go too far and upset someone, make a quick apology, and change the topic. Note that it’s not always possible to predict what topics will offend people.
You can find more tips on how to be funny here.
This makes it clear that you’re happy to make small talk with people passing by. Just saying, “Hi, how’s it going?” is enough to signal that you’d like to get to know them.
Smile and make eye contact with other students nearby, then move to small talk if they seem open to conversation. If you are planning to go out, even if it’s just to the library, ask them if they’d like to come along.
You don’t need to say anything profound. Simple remarks about the class material, an upcoming test, or why you like the professor are enough to start a conversation.
Parties and one-off events can be a lot of fun, but there’s a better chance of developing meaningful friendships with likeminded people you see on a regular basis.
Pick a role that involves direct contact with customers or service users. Your social skills will develop quickly because you’ll meet lots of people.
It’s a chance to practice speaking to someone you don’t know very well, which is a useful skill to have if you want to make new friends.
If you weren’t very outgoing in high school, college can seem like a chance to reinvent yourself but don’t expect your personality to change overnight. Take small, sustainable steps at your own pace.
Find the place people like to go during their breaks. When you have some free time, go there too. When you see a colleague, make eye contact, smile, and say “Hi.” If they look friendly, try making small talk. You’ll start to see the same people regularly, and it will become easier to have conversations.
Just tell them where you’re going and say, “Would you like to come too?” Keep your tone casual, and you’ll sound confident.
For example, it’s almost inevitable that your coworkers will ask, “Did you have a good weekend?” or “How did your morning go?” at some point.
Offer more than a one-word answer; give a response that invites a conversation. For example, instead of saying “Fine,” say, “I had a good weekend, thanks! I went to the new art gallery that just opened in the city. Did you do anything fun?” Show a genuine interest in your colleagues’ lives outside work. Changing your attitude will make you naturally more curious and outgoing.
Write down a list of ideas and points you want to raise. You’ll feel more confident if you have a clear set of notes in front of you.
Instead, share sincere compliments, focus on what is going well at work, and lift other people up. Your coworkers will be drawn to your positive energy, which in turn will help you feel more confident.
You don’t have to stay until the end. Even half an hour is better than not going at all; you can have a great conversation in 30 minutes. As you become more comfortable around your coworkers, you can try to stay for longer periods each time.
Knowing what to expect will help you be more confident. Ask the organizer:
- How many people will be at the party?
- Who are the other guests? This doesn’t mean a list of full names and occupations. You just need a general idea. For example, has the organizer invited their friends, relatives, colleagues, neighbors, or a mix?
- Is the party likely to be rowdy, civilized, or somewhere in between?
- Will there be any special activities, like games?
These answers will help you prepare good questions and topics for conversations. For example, if the organizer works for a tech company and has invited some colleagues, it might be a good idea to skim a few of the latest tech-related stories on your favorite news website.
Before leaving for the party, decide what you want to achieve. Having a goal keeps you focused on other people and your surroundings. Be specific.
Here are a few examples:
- I will introduce myself to three new people and practice making small talk.
- I will catch up with my high school friends who I haven’t seen for five years. I will find out what they do for a living and whether they are married.
- I will introduce myself, and have a conversation with, my new friend’s colleagues who I know will be there.
Ask yourself what you are afraid of, then visualize yourself successfully handling it.
For example, let’s say you are afraid that you won’t be able to think of anything to say. What’s the realistic worst-case scenario? Perhaps the person you are talking to might look slightly bored. They might excuse themselves and then go and talk to someone else.
Whatever your fear may be, imagine how the scenario would play out.
The next step is to identify how you could respond if your fear came true. To continue the example above, you could take a few moments to breathe, get a fresh drink, and then find someone else to talk to. You might feel embarrassed for a while, but it’s not the end of the world. If you can imagine how you’d cope with a potentially difficult social situation, you’ll feel more confident.
As a general rule, most people go to parties to unwind and have fun. It’s unlikely (but not impossible!) that you’ll have in-depth one-on-one conversations about serious issues. Stick to safe topics.
When you meet someone new, ask them how they know the host, then focus on learning more about them. Avoid getting into heated debates and steer clear of potentially controversial subjects.
For more inspiration, check out this list of 105 questions to ask at parties.
Outgoing people tend to join group conversations if they think the topic is interesting. To do this, begin by standing on the edge of the group. Before you say anything, listen attentively for a few minutes to gauge the group’s mood.
If they seem open and friendly, make eye contact with whoever is speaking and smile. Then you can make a contribution to the discussion. To gain everyone’s attention, use a hand gesture as demonstrated here.
Alcohol is a popular social lubricant at parties. A few drinks can make you feel more outgoing and confident. However, you can’t turn to alcohol at every social event, so it’s best to learn how to be outgoing when sober.
When you start putting the tips in this guide into action, you’ll realize that you don’t need alcohol to enjoy a social event. You may also discover that the connections you make with other people are more meaningful and authentic when you drink in moderation.
“As an introvert, I find it difficult to be outgoing. Some situations are harder than others. For example, I’m not sure how to be friendly when I’m socializing in a large group — my energy gets drained so quickly.”
Compared to extroverts, introverts prefer less stimulating environments and find social events more tiring. They tend to focus on their inner thoughts and feelings instead of looking for external stimulation. Introverts are content to spend time alone and are often very self-aware. Introversion isn’t the same as being shy or socially anxious. It’s simply a personality trait.
However, sometimes you might want to try being more outgoing. For example, if you want to make new friends, acting more extroverted can make it easier to attract others to you.
We can become so attached to a label or identity that we feel reluctant to change our ways. If you proudly describe yourself as “a real introvert,” the idea of behaving in a more outgoing way can feel uncomfortable. It can even feel as though you are betraying your true self.
Yet you can change your behaviors without losing sight of who you are. You probably wouldn’t behave exactly the same way around your colleagues as you would a sibling or close friend, but you are still the same person in both situations. Humans are complex. We are capable of changing our personality traits and can adapt to new social environments.
Some introverts prefer to socialize one-on-one, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you want to be comfortable at parties or in large groups, you’ll need to move beyond your comfort zone.
Start by arranging to hang out with two or three people at a time. Do an activity that gives you all something to focus on or talk about, like visiting an art gallery or going on a hike. You can then expand the group to include more people, perhaps by asking your friends’ partners or their other friends. With practice, you’ll feel more adept at socializing at larger gatherings.
Many introverts don’t like small talk. They think it’s shallow or a waste of time and would prefer to discuss weightier topics.
But small talk is the first step to building rapport and developing relationships. It allows people to bond and encourages a mutual sense of trust, and it helps us work out whether we’ve got something in common with someone else.
Outgoing people understand this. They tap into their underlying curiosity and make careful use of small talk to learn more about others.
If you aren’t sure what to say, draw on your surroundings or situations. For example, if you’re at a wedding, you could say, “Aren’t the floral arrangements beautiful? Which one’s your favorite?” Or if you’re in the break room at work after a meeting, you could ask, “I thought that this morning’s presentation was interesting. What did you think?”
The F.O.R.D. technique can help you if the conversation starts drying up.
- F: Family
- O: Occupation
- R: Recreation
- D: Dreams
Sincere compliments and simple questions, such as “Do you know how to work this coffee machine?” are also effective.
For more tips on how to make small talk, check out this guide.
Extroverts often thrive in loud, busy venues like bars and noisy parties, but introverts tend to find it easier to be outgoing when they are around people who share their hobbies, values, and interests. When you meet someone at a meetup that is centered around one of your interests, you’ll already have a guaranteed conversation starter.
Browse meetup.com for groups, or check out classes at your local community college. Volunteering is another good way to connect with likeminded people.
When you arrive somewhere new, get acquainted with your surroundings and find a quiet place you can retreat to when you feel overwhelmed. Knowing that you can have a few minutes away from the main group can help you stay relaxed.
Even if you’re having a great time, you might start to feel tired or emotionally drained before everyone else. That’s fine: honor your needs. Aim to stay for at least half an hour, then leave if your energy levels are dropping.
Here are three of the best books on how to be outgoing. They will show you how to be more confident around other people and develop your social skills.
This book will teach you how to not be shy in social settings, how to make friends, and how to improve your social life in general.
If you struggle to be more outgoing at work or when attending business events, get this book. It will teach you how to use conversation and non-verbal communication to create a good impression and build relationships in professional environments.
If you’re an introvert, this guide will show you how to behave in a more outgoing, sociable manner without feeling drained.
For more books about social skills, see this guide.