Most of us have experienced feelings of social awkwardness at least once in our life, making it difficult to relax and engage with others. Needless to say, we all have moments of awkwardness, but many people deal with it on a daily basis However, those of us that experience ongoing challenges related to socializing with others often struggle with anxiety, self-esteem issues, feelings of inadequacy, and self-doubt. Persons that struggle with social awkwardness typically feel as though they never know the “right” thing to say, when to say it, how to say it, when to stop talking, or how to appropriately engage others in conversation.  Socially awkward people constantly wonder how they are perceived by others, i.e., do they come across as weird, strange, etc.

Tarra Bates-Duford, Ph.D., MFTTarra Bates-Duford, Ph.D., MFT have a PhD in forensic Psychology specializing in familial dysfunctions and traumatic experience. I work with individuals and families struggling with familial dysfunctions, trauma, rape, and incest. I also have a masters in Marriage, Couples, & Family therapy. I am a certified relationship specialist with American Psychotherapy Association (#15221). She is also a certified Relationship Expert (American Psychotherapy Association #15221). I have more than 15 years in the field of mental health, relationships, and behavioral sciences.

Editor: Saad Shaheed

Although, shyness can affect people in a lot of different ways one of the more common issues some people face includes social awkwardness. Social awkwardness, just like shyness, comes in many different forms and intensity. Intense discomfort in response to social situations can range from avoidance of eye contact during a conversation to avoiding people and social situations entirely. Being shy or introverted can affect how we deal with others as well as have an impact on our life choices. Failure to appropriately interact with others can limit personal and professional opportunities.

Signs You May Be Socially Awkward Include:

·         Intense feelings of anxiety and fear in social situations

·         Failure to recognize and understand social norms

·         Frequently being avoided or ridiculed by others

·         Lack of meaningful connections with others

·         Failure to have a “natural flow” during conversations

·         Avoiding people and situations where socialization is expected or required

·         Others engage in avoidant behaviors when you are around

·         You engage in nonsensical or rambling conversations, i.e., unable to stop talking

·         Your behavior is cruelly mimicked or mocked by others

·         You obsess about every word that comes out of your mouth

·         You tend to make inappropriate or embarrassing comments, i.e., you tend to put your foot in your mouth

·         You feel like you are being judged during conversations

Tips to Overcome Social Awkwardness Include:

·         Establish and maintain appropriate eye contact

·         Practice your socialization skills, i.e. family members, etc.

·         Learn how to appropriately identify social cues

·         Pace yourself when speaking, if you find you are rambling, try to summarize what you want to say

·         Smile more

·         Try to avoid overly brief responses

In conclusion, if you struggle with social awkwardness one of the most important steps that must occur includes developing your social confidence. However, before you can develop social confidence you must understand basic social norms. Recognizing, understanding, and applying appropriate social norms can assist you with adjusting your social behavior to both people and situations, leading to the reduction of anxiety and embarrassment in social situations.