4 Steps Towards Becoming More Social

When was the last time you gabbed away at a party or asked an acquaintance to lunch? If it's been a while, it may be time to start putting more effort into happy hour. A study published in the Journal of Research in Personality found that being extroverted in your youth can make you happier as you age.

Having a great social life boils down to a set of simple changes in mindset and behavior, this article will get you started at being able to talk to people whenever you want to. But first…

Take Risks. Unless you're a natural socialite (and even if you are), it can be scary to talk to new people. But in order to break through your own social limitations, you have to take risks. That means deliberately putting yourself in situations that you know make you uncomfortable. There is no magic potion (well, besides alcohol) that will make you comfortable without going through a gauntlet of situations that make you face and overcome your fear of social situations. You gotta go through it.  

Start small. You don't have to start with a stand up comedy routine, just make conversation with the guy at Starbucks. Smile at someone while you're pumping gas. These little things will give you confidence and make larger social situations more accessible.

Focus on them The best way to start a conversation with people is to start with what they’re focused on. Most of the time, you’ll find people concerned about what’s going on in their life, and that’s where to start. Forget what you’re worried about, stop thinking about yourself and focus on them. This means that you’re going to show interest in them, ask questions, and find the unique things about the other person.

You can do this by saying things like, “Interesting, tell me more!” or ask the question “Why?” When someone tells you about a certain industry they’re in, a class they’re taking, or a hobby, ask, “why?” That will get the conversation to be a little more intimate and interesting.

Chat At Work. No, we're not talking about instant messaging. Find the spot at work where people tend to congregate and jump into the water-cooler chitchat, recommends Wood. Set a goal that you'll go to the break room, bench or wherever it may be on Tuesdays for five minutes. (Shooting for Tuesday rather than Monday will keep you from agonizing over the weekend.) Start small and each Tuesday do something to be more social and friendly with your co-workers. If there's someone that you've found some common ground with, ask them if they want to grab lunch with you.