Awkward Much? How to Up Your Social Game
Some people are born with social graces. They come out of the womb blessed with charisma, a quick wit and instantly make friends. Others flock to them just for the sheer joy of being near them.
I am not one of these people.
In fact, I wish I had half the people skills as my 4-year-old son. But to my credit, I’ve come a long way from the days when I was terrified to even speak to someone on the phone. Recently someone told me that she noticed how much people like me, and like to be around me. I was floored. Maybe I, too, am finally a recovering awkward person.
Was it magic? Mind control? A next gen drug? None of the above. It was boring old-fashioned focus, practice and hard work. Especially for introverts like me, it can be excruciating to tear down our walls enough to make the honest, deep and meaningful connections with other people that we truly do want to have. Our mental blocks jump into play and without knowing how to smash them apart, we often times remain in our bubble, wishing we knew how to pop it and let everyone see who we really are.
There may not be a magic pill to spontaeously generate charisma, but fear not! There are a lot of amazing resources for socially impaired wannabes, and they can make a huge difference in your game. Here are my favorites:
How to Win Friends and Influence People. This is the classic people skills book by Dale Carnegie. My old boss and first mentor gave it to me when I was in my early 20’s and it was the very beginning of a self-help book obsession that I developed. This book shares the very basics of how to take the focus off of yourself and put it on other people – the first steps of developing any kid of social rapport. This book should be in the library of anyone who wants to break through that confused exterior and finally begin connecting with others.
Charisma on Command. This YouTube channel is brilliant. It focuses a little bit more on what works for men than for women, but believe me you can learn a lot no matter what your gender. There is also a paid e-course from the owner of this channel, Charisma University that I purchased myself last year. It honestly it is a great investment in yourself if you’re ready to take it to the next level.
Vanessa Van Edwards. Don’t leave YouTube yet – this channel owned by the founder of the Science of People digs deep into what makes us tick in our social exchanges, whether casual or business. I love Vanessa because she speaks to more of what I need as a woman in social situations, and her insights are truly fascinating. She’ll help you up your charisma game and help you understand what’s going on in the minds of others, too. (Vanessa is the original “recovering awkard person” which makes me love her even more!)
Captivate: The Science of Succeeding With People. I’m still on my Vanessa Van Edwards love fest. This is her book, and a great companion to her YouTube channel. I’m about half way through this book and there are so many little tips and tricks that are already helping me. She’s got tips for just about any situation imaginable, from networking events and first impressions to how to read microexpressions. She also dives into how to talk so people will listen and learning the importance of good listening yourself.
Toastmasters International. My favorite non-profit organization has it all. You can learn public speaking and leadership skills, yes, but you can also put into practice all the skills you learned by reading the books and watching the YouTube channels above. It is a safe place to fail your way to success, as everyone in the club is learning and growing together. Find a club near you on their website here!
The last resource is…you. You can watch YouTube tutorials all day long and read books all night, but if you don’t get out there and attend the networking events and go to the parties and go out of your way to meet people, it will all be for nothing. All the knowledge in the world will fail you unless you have put it into practice repeatedly so it becomes natural to you.
With the right tools and enough practice, you can learn to work a room like a pro, make sincere connections with people and throw that awkward anxiety you feel in your gut straight into the trash can.
The quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives. You can build a better life by connecting with others!
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