As an adult, you are constantly in situations in which you have to interact with people. Whether it be at work, in class, or in any public setting, people are inescapable, whether you like it or not.
Personally, I enjoy being around people, as my Myers-Briggs personality type is ENTJ. I enjoy keeping a busy schedule and dedicating my time to various sorts of gatherings and festivities. However, I have been told in the past that I have awkward tendencies and mannerisms. Hearing this used to bother me, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve learned not to care about what people think of me.
A few months ago, I published a Medium article on how to make friends after graduating from college. Although the response to said article was generally positive, one person messaged me saying that although it’s easy to reach out to new people to hang out with, maintaining conversation is challenging.
Granted, I still have my fair share of awkward moments, however, I’ve learned to combat my awkwardness by following a set of guidelines.
1. Let go of people who make you feel bad about yourself. – Part of the reason you feel awkward in new social situations is because people from your past may have convinced you that you’re weird, unlikable, or a nuisance. Everybody has their flaws and shortcomings but that doesn’t mean you should associate yourself with people who constantly remind you of yours, especially when you’re trying your best to combat those. You are in no way obligated to keep anyone around who makes you feel sub-par.
2. Play party games with new friends. – Board games, card games, and party games great ways to figure out how well you work with others. They also open the door for conversation and allow for each of the players to see how well they get along in competitive settings. One party game I particularly enjoy is one called Table Topics, in which each of the rotating participants plays a card with a question written on it, while all of the other participants answer the question. No goals, no objective; just open honesty and communication. Also, games like Cards Against Humanity and Apples to Apples are good ways to see how your sense of humor compares to those of others.
3. Draw with friends. – In an episode of a web series called “The Feels,” the main character, Tim, meets up with a friend whom he met online. During their meet-up, there are a lot of lulls and awkward silences. His friend asks if he would like to draw a picture with them, noting that they ask this whenever they feel awkward. Personally, I’ve never done this, however, I thought it was a really cool idea and may try this in the future.
4. Vocalize your preferences. – If you and a friend are planning to hang out, be sure to vocalize anything in particular that you may have in mind. For example, if you are going to lunch, instead of saying “I don’t really care where we go,” you can say something like “I’ve had pizza the past few days, why don’t we get sushi or tacos?” As for me, I’m a pretty low maintenance person and usually don’t care what I do when spending time with friends, however, being honest about what you want will create a mostly positive experience for all parties involved.
5. Be an open book. – Keeping secrets from people will only cause you more stress and anxiety. Granted, I don’t share every personal detail about my life and my experiences, however, if somebody asks me a question, I usually provide an honest answer. Some people will appreciate your honesty while some may feel uncomfortable with your openness, but people who aren’t right for you will weed themselves out.