Sometimes You Have to be Social Even When You Don’t Feel Like It: Here’s How
Some of us are just naturally introverted and dread social situations, others may enjoy being social, but just don’t feel like it sometimes. Unfortunately, there are times, both in our personal and professional lives when we have to do it whether we like it or not. It’s not that easy to simply tell yourself that you have to do it when your mind and your body don’t want to hear it. It’s far more effective (and usually more enjoyable,) to figure out what the true reason is.
Are you tired, avoiding someone, or shy? Maybe you lack solid social or conversational skills. Perhaps you don’t know anyone who’ll be at the gathering or you’re wary of conflict. Whatever the reason, it’s much easier to overcome once you know what it is.
Be Social: Some “Get in the Social Mood” Strategies
Energy fixes – You’re tired. That’s completely understandable. Most of us can relate to that “feeling so tired, you just want to go home and be left alone” state. But sometimes that’s just not an option. So what can you do?
- The obvious solution is to take a quick nap.
- The tried and true fix would be a jolt of caffeine…I would recommend something with moderate caffeine content, (not Red Bull or a triple espresso) otherwise you’ll be bouncing all over the place and talking so fast no one will be able to follow your conversation anyway.
- Maybe your tiredness is caused by dehydration (most of us are at least mildly dehydrated.) Drink a glass of water and then keep drinking throughout your social event to stay hydrated.
- Are you hungry? Often lack of energy is caused by going too long without food. When did you last eat? Even if you did eat recently, was it healthy? A healthy meal or snack with a good mix of protein and carbs with a little bit of fat (A LITTLE BIT) thrown in will help to keep your energy up and even.
People problems – Sometimes we don’t feel like being sociable because of the other people involved. That’s a bit harder to fix, but there are some things you can do.
- Are you trying to avoid a particular person or group of people? Maybe you can go with a friend or enlist a colleague to act as a buffer. If you want to avoid or minimize conversation or contact with someone, the easiest way to do it is by choosing to converse with someone else. Keep some distance and keep busy. You might try offering to help the organizer so that you have an excuse not to engage. Also, have an exit plan ready. If you get in an uncomfortable situation, you can pull out your “exit excuse” and make for the door.
- Maybe it’s not a person, but a conflict that you dread. Again having another person or group as a social buffer is a great solution. If a conflict arises having someone else to run interference or help diffuse a tense situation is very handy. When you are in the social situation, stay calm, remind yourself that while you cannot control what other people say, you can control how you respond. Remain polite and remove yourself if an unpleasant situation arises.
- If must socialize at an event or some other type of gathering where you don’t know (or don’t know well) anyone else there, it can be very uncomfortable. The first thing you can do is to try to reframe it as an opportunity to expand your social sphere. You’ll get a chance to meet new people, add some names to your contact list, and widen your social network. Choose someone who looks interesting, sounds interesting or acts in a friendly manner and introduce yourself. That’s usually all it takes. Be honest. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know anyone. Your new “contact” may be able to introduce you to others, and if not, at least you can bond over being fellow loners.
Personality– If you’re an introvert, you’re an introvert. Nothing you can do is going to make you an extrovert, but you can increase your comfort level in social situations. As an introvert, socializing may cause a great deal of anxiety or simply be draining. Chaos, large groups, noise, and too much activity can be very stressful for someone with introverted tendencies.
- Choose your atmosphere if you can. Try to socialize in quieter environments, without so much noise and activity.
- Choose someplace you are familiar with. If you’re already comfortable with the setting, the actual conversation and interaction won’t feel so intimidating.
- Enlist a partner. Once again, this is a great strategy. You’ll feel more comfortable if you’re not alone, especially if you choose someone who tends to be more extroverted. They’ll carry much of the social burden, and most likely, they won’t feel that it’s a burden at all, because they enjoy and feel energized by the interaction.
- Work on improving your social or conversational skills. Not knowing what to say or how to act would make anyone not want to be sociable. Try practicing your introduction. Have some conversation ideas memorized. Think of a few questions you can ask if you don’t know what to say. “How long have you known…or worked at…lived here…” is a basic conversation starter.
When you don’t feel like socializing, you can often shift your mood by figuring out what the reason is and then taking steps to mitigate it. You still might not enjoy being sociable, but you can make it a bit less uncomfortable.
Featured photo credit: Curious striped Scottish fold kitten via Shutterstock
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