If a person wants to be more social, they may benefit from introducing themselves to people they might get on well with, learning some conversation icebreakers, and active listening.
However, while meeting people can be rewarding, not everyone feels the need to be social all the time. People can have differing levels of energy for socializing.
Additionally, some people may find it more difficult to be sociable than others. Where a person lives, how much free time they have, and medical conditions
Understanding what someone wants from their social time, their practical limitations, and what they enjoy can help find the right balance.
This article explores how to be more social and includes tips for introverts.
There are many reasons a person might not be as sociable as someone else. However, it is important to note that there is no “normal” amount of sociability. What people consider typical can vary widely between cultures and age groups.
For example, older research from 2005 found that people from the United States and Europe tend to be more sociable than people from Africa or Asia. Similarly, individuals have different levels of energy and interest in socializing.
This variation is a natural part of being human. If a person feels satisfied by the amount of social interaction they get, they may not need to change anything.
However, if someone feels lonely or isolated, it may mean they are craving closer connections. Some reasons why they may socialize less than others include:
- Introversion: Up to 50% of the population are introverts. This personality trait means that socializing drains a person’s energy, even if they are enjoying it.
- Sensitivity: Some people take more information about their surroundings than others. This is known as sensory processing sensitivity (SPS), or being a highly sensitive person. For people with SPS, socializing — especially with large groups or in noisy environments — can be tiring.
- Neurodiversity: Some autistic people, as well as those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and similar diagnoses, report that socializing can be tiring or difficult. For example, a person with ADHD may have to use more energy trying to focus during a conversation than someone else.
- Lack of means: If someone is short of free time, lives in an unsafe neighborhood, or lives somewhere remote, it may be more difficult to meet people.
Some health conditions can also make spending time with others more challenging, such as:
- Social anxiety: This involves a fear of judgment from others. People with social anxiety can feel like they are always editing their behavior to make sure others like them. This can make socializing exhausting.
- Low self-esteem: Self-esteem is the opinion someone has of themselves. If a person has low self-esteem, they may not understand why others would want their company and so become withdrawn.
- Physical conditions: If a person has a condition that limits their mobility, speech, or hearing, it
may be more challengingto stay social. This can be especially common as people get older.
- Other anxiety disorders: Some anxiety disorders, such as agoraphobia, may make it difficult to leave the home.
Anyone with these conditions may find it useful to speak with a health professional and try the following tips.
To start becoming more sociable at school or work, it can help for a person to set a goal to get a clearer idea of what they want. They can start by identifying:
- who they to spend time with
- when they can spend time with them
- where they would enjoy socializing
- why they want to do it
For example, a student starting at a new school might decide they want to try to meet new friends at lunchtime, in the cafeteria.
There are several ways to introduce oneself. A person can simply say hello and ask for the individual’s name. If this feels intimidating, a person could also try:
- asking to sit next to them and see if they would like to chat
- getting to know them during a group task or assignment
- joining a club or attending a class
With any of the above scenarios, it is important to respect peoples’ wishes. For example, if a person asks to sit next to someone on a train hoping to make friends, but that person says no, it is best to move on.
They may feel like talking another time. Even if not, there will be other opportunities to meet people.
Icebreakers are questions that can help stimulate a conversation. Having a few in mind can help if a person is ever unsure of what to say. Some examples include:
- What kind of music do you like?
- Have you been watching any good shows recently?
- Do you play any sports?
Being more sociable does not necessarily mean a person has to talk a lot. Active listening is an important skill that allows people to really get to know one another. This involves:
- allowing people to answer questions without interruptions
- nodding or making small interjections to show understanding, such as “yeah” or “that makes sense”
- reflecting or elaborating on what they say
- being curious about their perspective and asking follow-up questions
Listening to a person’s interests, values, and passions can help decide who a person is likely to get on well with and forge deeper connections.
If a person meets someone they want to befriend or has existing friends they want to spend more time with, they can see each other more often by finding common ground. This could be:
- a place to meet up
- shared interests or activities
- a time of the day or week they are free
- a mode of communication that works for both people, such as talking on the phone
For example, a group of friends might make plans to attend the same fitness class.
For introverts and people with SPS, managing energy levels is key to being more sociable.
Introverts, as well as some other groups, have a limited “social battery.” Being around others drains the battery, while being alone or relaxing can recharge it.
As socializing can be so draining, this can limit how much people do it. However, there are ways to use the energy more efficiently if a person wants to. They can try:
- Identifying pain points: First, it can help to start noticing what types of activity are the most draining. For example, a crowded festival may quickly tire them.
- Identifying pleasure points: These are the aspects of socializing that someone enjoys most or finds most comfortable. For example, a person might enjoy talking one-on-one over coffee.
- Scheduling mindfully: It can be beneficial for introverts to schedule activities for a set period and intentionally block off some “alone time” afterward. It may also be helpful to space out the more tiring activities.
- Taking small breaks: Even small breaks from social settings may be beneficial. This can include going to the bathroom or stepping outside for a moment.
- Learning how to recharge: For some people, certain activities are better for recharging than others. Individuals may benefit from going for a walk, doing something creative, or just resting.
A person may want to be more social if they feel lonely or want deeper connections with those they care about.
To start, it helps to have a clear goal. Making introductions, using icebreakers, and finding common ground can help someone meet new people and find time to talk with them.
For introverts and other individuals with a limited social battery, effectively managing one’s energy for socializing can help make the most of it.