Putting Your Best Foot Forward: How to Socialize Better in Your Workplace
If you are struggling to make friends in your new workplace, or to get into social cliques in any environment you may find yourself in, don’t fret-- you may be shy, or making the first move in any conversation or situation may simply be something that sounds new to you. Fortunately, like most skills, socializing is something that can be learned, and with ample practice over time, it can be perfected.
Begin your journey with these easy steps:
Look welcoming, accommodating, and confident-- greet co-workers with a sincere smile. Setting good impressions often start with your gestures, non-verbal cues, the way you stand, dress, and the way you carry yourself. You can start a conversation without saying anything, just by standing in a way that would make you seem like a welcoming and warm individual. Allow this warmth to shine through and watch as people notice or approach you. If your profession requires you to create rapport with individuals, master the ability to invite people to your desk just by the smile on your face and your gait.
Learn to present yourself confidently- make sure your shoulders are pulled back, your chest puffed out, and your overall posture is straight. If you find it difficult to stand straight or train your posture, simply make standing and sitting straight a habit. Utilize whatever ergonomic equipment you have at work, from ergonomic seats to sit-and-stand desks, and observe as your body gradually learns to make it a default movement. To aid you in your journey to better posture, get into exercises that focus on strengthening your lower back muscles, which are the same core muscles you will be using as you sit.
Be yourself- Socializing with people will always feel like a stressful event, but if you want to excel at it, then don’t stress it. Don’t overthink, don’t overdo, and just try to be your natural self. Don’t be afraid of how others might perceive you, in fact, don’t think about their perceptions at all. Instead, allow your conversation, presentation (of yourself), and your ideas to flow naturally with the people you are talking to.
Practice your social skills- Make a friend every day, or at the very least, leave positive impressions on acquaintances you know. As they say, practice makes perfect, and if your goal is to get better at socializing, then practice whenever you can. One way to go about this is to set a personal goal for yourself, like making at least one friend every day. If you find it hard to do this, at least try to build a connection with your acquaintances at work. Saying hi to them whenever you see them puts you on their radar.
Go out there and expose yourself to more social interactions- If you find yourself getting cold feet whenever you dive into conversations or social discussions, you may be struggling because you have not had enough exposure for instances like these. One way to get started is to meet new people, join your coworkers whenever you can for company-sponsored events, or to join clubs and organizations outside of your work.
Learn how other people behave in conversations and learn how to gauge if people are interested in the discussion- The only way you’ll learn how to behave in a conversation is to constantly involve yourself in one. Hang out with a group of people you are acquainted with, and try to participate in their discussions if you have something to share. If not, showing up is half the work. Try to observe how other people in that group handle themselves. Observe how people acknowledge another person’s ideas, and while you’re at it, learn to read when someone is bored, uninterested, or tired of the conversation. Usually, people cross their arms across their chest when they feel defensive about something or when they want to close themselves off. Take note of this, and many other behaviours that indicate a person’s feelings within a conversation.
Manage your expectations and improve with time and patience. Anyone can be a great conversationalist and companion and that can be you! If the reason why you want to become a more social individual is because you want to get into the dating game and come out of it with good results, you must first embrace the fact that being a flawless conversationalist who can easily strike a conversation with the opposite sex is a long process that requires dedication and practice.
Get into new hobbies or other dive deeper into your interests so you’ll have more stuff to talk about- If you find yourself constantly running out of things to share or talk about, it might be time to get into a new hobby or to dig deeper into interests you are already doing, so you’ll have more things to discuss the next time you find yourself in a situation where all eyes are on you. Investing your time and energy into learning a hobby or skill also serves another purpose: it allows you to de-stress, take your mind off work, and put your talents to good use.