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What Should I Do?

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I have an issue that I want to take care of and need some of your guys advice

 

Sometimes when I'm in a group of individuals, I feel socially awkward, and simply don't know what to say. I feel left out as I don't talk much. I want to be more social and outgoing.

 

How can I improve myself?

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You are describing me from the past. There are several possible approaches like:

- engage yourself in activities you enjoy that involve others; this will allow you to focus on matters of common interest and communication will become natural in these circumstances.

- volunteer with the elderly, e.g., lonely elderly or with disabilities and they will appreciate your company; talking with them will be natural, you will become an active listener and a good conversationalist.

- do things out of your comfort zone that involves communication, like sales or customer service

- finally, there is a public speaking group (I forget the name but others will chime in) and introverts and socially awkward people have achieved tremendous success!

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- finally, there is a public speaking group (I forget the name but others will chime in) and introverts and socially awkward people have achieved tremendous success!

I think you are referring to Toastmasters. From personal experience I can say it is an excellent opportunity to improve public speaking skills. OP, it's not exactly what you are looking for (i.e. it's more giving speeches rather than conversation skills) but it would likely be helpful regardless and I would recommend it to anyone looking to improve their communication and be more outgoing.

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I was a very shy, introverted teenager that struggled with self-esteem and confidence. More than 15 years later, I don't think anyone that knows me now would describe me that way. I completely agree with Bambi's approach. You need to take small steps - I know my change definitely didn't happen over night.

 

Some things that I did early on in my adult life:

 

- in my early UG years I didn't join any clubs or do many social activities. I did discover that I enjoyed going to the gym though. At first I didn't really talk to anyone, but after a while I made quite a few "gym friends".

- I hated group work and presentations, but towards my third and fourth year I specifically took courses where you had to make presentations (to a small group) to force myself to practice public speaking.

- I started volunteering with some local organizations. At first I was purely doing administrative tasks (filing, mailing, etc.) but eventually had some customer-service type roles that I didn't mind.

 

As I became less-shy, I did a few things during my master's degree (mid-20s)

- My love of the gym became a love of running/cycling, so I joined a triathlon club

- I took my first "sales" job for the Running Room, which in hindsight was one of the best minimum wage jobs I ever had! It forced me to get used to interacting with complete strangers

- I took more advanced public speaking/presenting classes, where you quite often had to think on your feet

 

From there I've continued to develop to point that I am comfortable speaking in front of a group of hundreds and be a leader in very stressful situations. It can happen! Feel free to PM me if you wish.

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I tend to keep to myself as well, but the BEST experience I had that taught me how to speak with people is working in retail. I got a job because I wanted the extra cash, but what I learned from it was invaluable. Being forced to stand at the front of a store and chat up anyone and everyone helped me master (kind of) the art of small talk. I've been able to use that skill in both my personal and professional lives. Even though I didn't put in as much hours as I had with volunteering, the experience was very different. I'd definitely suggest getting a position in sales - you'll learn a ton about talking people's ears off in a pleasant way (if that's even a thing  :P )

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I learnt to get out of my comfort zone of talking to others by really just finding something I enjoyed doing and being able to talk to others first in that circle. Over time, you begin to develop more and more confidence in talking to others. 

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