Have you ever gone in for a handshake only to be met with an awkward high-five and ended up casually styling it out and cringing inside? Or had that uneasy anxiety creep over you in a meeting that everyone is looking at you – but you’re not sure why? Have you ever made a badly thought through a comment that was met with silence and had no option but to wait for the socially awkward moment to pass?
You’re not alone.
I know I have and so have many of the clients I’ve worked with over the last seven years. I help people to be creative and think differently to get the results they want. A lot of my work involves helping people make change happen, overcome dips in confidence and to be more resilient and brush off the socially awkward moments.
In fact, I’ve helped so many people manage socially awkward moments that I’d like to share my proven tips on how to not be socially awkward and shine at work.
Are You Socially Awkward?
Some of the characteristics of being socially awkward include feeling shy, getting anxious and insecure around people, feelings of social inadequacies, fear of being judged or rejected by others and the inability to be good at conversations.
If you’ve ever felt that you want the floor to swallow you up, or been afraid to speak up in a meeting or kept quiet when you knew the answer, or if you’ve let your inner critic jeopardize you by telling you that you’re no good and you’re going to get found out, read on and learn my 13 killer tips to quit feeling socially awkward and shine at work. Read to the end and you’re in for a treat!
13 Tips to Stop Being Socially Awkward at Work
1. Shift Your Mindset
Stop labeling yourself as ‘socially awkward’. It might be your view on how you feel, but it probably isn’t how other people see you.
Nothing is going to send you into a socially awkward spiral faster than berating yourself for the way other people may or may not see you.
So stop telling yourself that you are socially awkward and start telling yourself that you’re an excellent confident person.
2. Ask Yourself ‘Why?’
Why are you having these socially awkward feelings in the first place? Are you comparing yourself to others?
An excellent piece of advice that I heard recently was:
‘Don’t compare your inside to someone else’s outside – you will always lose.’
Consider the situations that make you feel awkward. Why do you feel awkward?
For example, do you feel awkward at networking events? Why? Because you’re worried about what other people think? Why? Because people don’t understand what you do and lose interest?
Then you can think about how to describe what you do in a way that does spike peoples’ attention.
For example, when I told people I was a fundraiser for a charity, people would back away from me at networking events anxious that I was going to ask them for a donation.
So I changed what I said. I started talking about the impact of my work ‘protecting children from harm’ rather than my job title ‘fundraiser’ which felt much better and opened up conversations rather than closed them down.
Keep asking yourself why to get to the root cause of your anxiety. It might help to talk it through with a trusted friend or colleague. Then you can start to find solutions to shine.
3. Notice and Regulate Your Emotions
Start to notice your emotional response to a situation and begin to unpick why it’s making you feel socially awkward.
Take a step away and (as above) identify the root of your anxiety, then start to unpick the feeling, either on your own or I’d recommend you discuss it with someone you trust or even a professional coach or mentor.
4. Focus on the Other Person
We can often get stressed out about what people think about us. Stop thinking about it by focusing on them.
Be present. Put your phone away and give them your whole attention. Ask them lots of questions, then you don’t have space to think about what they think of you because you’re too busy thinking about them.
It sounds so simple and obvious yet so many of us are really bad at listening.
A lot of the time, we have partial attention; we’re so busy multi-tasking on our phones that we miss a lot of what goes on.