3 Social Blunders That Keep You In The Same Old Rut

Warner Bros. Pictures/True Romance

For humans, socialization all comes down to one thing: quality conversation. Sure, experts from different camps will tell you it’s body language, tone of voice, clothing, posture, etc.; they claim that these things impact your level of social success drastically. While these things do have an impact, the prime factor will always be what you say and how you say it — that’s what people will remember about you. All else is likely to fall to the wayside.

You don’t have to take classes or study to be an expert conversationalist. In fact, whatever issues you have may relate more to how you feel about yourself rather than how you feel about others, so not much progress will be made until you actually change your behavior and your beliefs. What’s more important than studying and exerting a ton of effort? Simply understanding human nature. If you find yourself failing to connect with coworkers or significant others, or maybe you’re awful at making new friends, there are a few things you’re probably doing wrong.

The downside to communication problems is that they can seep into every single area of your life. Social blunders can cost us career opportunities, relationships and even other things that seem unrelated to social skills. It’s not fair, but it’s the way it works. So if you want to break out of your boring routine, start avoiding these social blunders. If you recognize any of the following behaviors in yourself, it’s time to make changes.

1. Selfishness

Fact: No one cares that much about your life. This should not feel insulting; in fact, it’s actually liberating. Knowing that everyone’s focus is not on you, your performance, your hair, your phone conversations, etc. should be a weight off your shoulders. It should alleviate any self-consciousness you may have felt in the past.

However, this goes two ways. While you needn’t be preoccupied with what others think of you, you should also realize when you are imposing on others. I’m sure we could all name an acquaintance who constantly talks about themselves, asks for help with personal problems and totally fails to recognize the interests and concerns of others. This is called low emotional intelligence, and it hurts the individual even more than it hurts those around them. If you see yourself as a poor conversationalist, just remember that focusing on others is a surefire way to succeed. The catch is, you need to be genuinely interested in them. Ask questions, listen, care. People can tell the difference.

Common behaviors: Failing to recognize social cues, failing to listen, excessively thinking out loud.

2. Ruminating

Researchers have found that chronic ruminating is a symptom of depression — and probably one of the causes of depression as well. It basically serves no functional purpose, but costs us a ton of stress. Like any other bad habit, ruminating is something you have to continuously remind yourself to STOP doing. A bit of reflection after conversations is healthy and even helpful, but obsessive thinking and speculation is a waste of time — not to mention exhausting. So every time you find yourself worrying about your social performance or what someone intended when they said, “I like your shoes,” just stop. Stop. Stop!

Common behaviors: Censoring yourself, being too tense, judging prematurely, failing to act natural.

3. Ineffectiveness

It’s really not our fault. How many of us were taught social skills in school? Sure, we learned some skills indirectly, but we also picked up fear-based habits that don’t serve us. One of the most common and overlooked social blunders is ineffectiveness. We may get along with others and we don’t make any social faux pas, but somehow, we just don’t do that well. Ineffective communication skills are so widespread, they’re viewed as socially acceptable. In many environments, this behavior is the norm. Unfortunately, it’s also the reason many of us lead deeply unfulfilled social lives. By breaking a few of these ineffective habits, you will set yourself apart from the crowd, immediately becoming more memorable.

Common behaviors of these folks include: Forgetting someone’s name 5 seconds after they introduce themselves, failing to introduce yourself, saying “we’ll catch up” without following through, not knowing how to talk about yourself.

By changing your behavior in these three areas, you are bound to improve your social situation in any environment.