4 Ways to Become More Outgoing and Sociable

Group of smiling young people talking outdoors in the city

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If you find it difficult to strike up a conversation with someone you don't know, painful to participate in a discussion with co-workers, or stressful to attend a party where you know only a few people, you aren't alone. But that doesn't mean you have to stay on the conversational sidelines. With a few little tweaks to your style, you can become more outgoing, more relaxed in social situations, and more likely to have fun when you're in the company of others. Here are some tips to get you started.

Start With Small Steps

Start by taking small steps towards establishing contact with the people around you be they strangers, acquaintances, colleagues, or friends. Eye contact and small, friendly gestures can go a long way. They say that smiles are contagious. So, if someone looks directly at you when you’re shopping at the grocery store, on the train on your way to work, or sitting in the break room at the office, smile at them. You will find that most people react positively and are likely to smile back. Use that returned smile as an instant confidence booster.

After mastering the smile, graduate to saying hello, asking someone for advice, or giving a compliment. The more that you get used to establishing communication with strangers and acquaintances, the easier it becomes and more natural it feels to be outgoing.

You'll also find that being friendly and nice to those around you feels good. You'll often receive positive feedback in return, which will help develop the self-confidence that is useful in virtually every social setting.

Use Your Mutual Connections

It's easy to hang with the people who make you feel comfortable and safe, but never branching out can be detrimental in both social and professional environments.

One of the easiest ways to become more outgoing is to ask your friends, colleagues, or classmates to introduce you to their friends. For example, if you walk into a room and your friend is talking to someone else, make a point to say hello and introduce yourself. The next time you see that person, you can say hello and, since you have already been introduced, you have built a bridge into future communication.

Once you've made a connection, ask the person questions about themselves. One of the best ways to strike up a conversation and keep it going is to ask open-ended questions and actively listen as they take it from there. This is also a great trick if you find that you're unsure what to talk about or are uncomfortable with small talk.

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

Doing something that makes you feel a little uncomfortable is the easiest way to boost your confidence and help you become a more outgoing version of yourself. With each little victory, you'll gain the confidence to step further and further outside your comfort zone.

If you keep seeing signs for a club or class you're interested in, go to one meeting to test the waters. There is not any harm in trying. Do your best to counteract the inner voice telling that you can’t do something or defining yourself by what you think you should be doing instead.

If you have never danced before but want to take a salsa lesson, try it out. Do things because they interest you, not because they are the things you have always done.

Don’t Sweat the Little Things

It is easy to get so caught up in your self-image that being quiet or reserved can feel like the safest choice. But being outgoing offers you the chance to try new things and meet new people.

At the end of the day, no one is going to remember how nervous you sounded the first couple of times you met them; they will remember you as the person who made an effort to reach out, who wasn't afraid to ask a question in a group, and who had something nice to say at the end of a conversation. Not sure how to end it? Practice this conversational closing: "It was great talking to you. Let's do this again!"

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