What does it mean to be socially inept? Social ineptitude is generally associated with social awkwardness, but it’s much more than that. A socially inept person will have a hard time socializing with people or carry normal conversations. We will discuss in detail what it means to be socially inept later on, but for now, you just need to realize one thing—if you want to build friendships, you need to know how to stop being socially inept.
Your day to day life will become so much smoother if you are socially skilled. People who are more outgoing and have great social skills tend to rise to the top of their fields faster. They have access to ideas, support, and connections because of the friendships they’ve built.
Researchers have also frequently pointed out that people with social lives are physically healthier. Not to mention, having people to talk to about worries and problems have a very positive impact on mental health. If this is something you want for yourself, you need to get out there and socialize. If being socially inept is stopping you from doing this, then don’t worry. We’ll work on that in this article.
What Does It Mean To Be Socially Inept?
This heading is the first sentence of this article, and it is probably still on your mind right now. What does it mean to be socially inept? Are all socially inept people incapable of building friendships? Are all socially inept people introverts? Do socially inept people hate socializing? Well, the answer to all of that: not exactly.
A socially inept person is someone unfamiliar with the rules of social interaction. Their conversations don’t usually go smoothly because of this. It’s not as if they dislike having conversations with others, it’s just that they don’t know how to. As I’ve mentioned earlier, social ineptitude is associated with social awkwardness, but so many more things point out to being socially inept. Other socially inept people can come off as “rude” when in fact, they’re only unaware of what they’re doing.
Empathy is also one thing socially inept people can’t use when in social interactions. If you want to be socially skilled, you need to be able to pick up on the emotions of the other person. Not just that, but you need to take that to a whole other level by being able to scan the whole room. A socially inept person is unable or doesn’t know how to do these things.
How To Know If You’re Socially Inept
Internalize your thoughts and think: are you socially inept? Are there things you’ve done in public that made people uncomfortable? Do you feel like social interactions go well for you? I will list a couple of traits below that point to being socially inept. Take note of them and question yourself in the process—”Am I socially inept? Am I like this in public?”
1. Cutting off other people in the middle of a conversation
Socially inept people tend to cut off other people when they are speaking. This is an example of how a conversation between a person and a socially inept person usually goes:
Person 1: The food they serve at this party is amazing! It reminds me of—
Socially inept person: Yes, it’s good. I feel quite full.
P1: Uhh yes. As I was saying—
SIP: My mom cooks food that tastes as good as these.
P1: Ahh, yes. I was going to say the same thing.
If you’re someone who’s in the earshot of that conversation, what would you think? One word: awkward.
The conversation isn’t smooth because the socially inept person doesn’t let the other person finish their thought. They are stopped midway through their sentence because the socially inept person cuts it off abruptly. This will make the other person feel very uncomfortable, and they will most likely move on to speak to someone else if it keeps going.
2. Unable to fill awkward silences
Awkward silences can happen in conversations. They are unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be filled in. Whenever there’s an awkward silence in a conversation, a socially inept person will do something else aside from properly filling in the silence. They will usually:
- Look at their phones
- Look at their feet
- Smile at the other person while putting their hands on their pockets, without saying a word
- Walk away
- Say something awkward or inappropriate
A socially inept person isn’t just incapable of filling awkward silences, they are also likely to make it worse. You have to remember, this is something they don’t do on purpose. It’s not like they are actively making the situation worse. The thing is, they just don’t know the proper responses or “rules” to mend awkward silences.
3. Being left out in circles
A social inept person can be a part of a social circle, where people will talk among themselves, but will still be left out. Other people will have conversations around the socially inept person, but they will not be included in those conversations. This can happen for two reasons: the socially inept doesn’t know what to say, or they’ve been a part of the conversations but they never added value to the interaction.
Their mind will also usually wander off whenever other people are talking. Or, they just won’t pay attention to others at all. So whenever someone talks to them and asks them their opinion on whatever the subject matter is, they will usually just reply with, “What was that?”.
4. Avoiding interactions altogether
A socially inept person will most likely just avoid interactions altogether. They’re either too afraid to approach others or they don’t mind being alone at all. While it is completely fine wanting to be alone, it isn’t a mindset you want to have if you’re planning on socializing.
Some socially inept people choose to avoid interactions because they’ve experienced social interaction missteps in the past. They want to connect with people but they don’t know how to establish one, so they just avoid interactions in fear of failing again.
5. Finding it difficult to keep eye contact
Keeping eye contact is one of the best ways to establish a very good connection with others. It is also an intimate action. Because of this, socially inept people have a hard time doing it. They will often just look at the ground or have their eyes wander elsewhere when they are talking to someone. Other people also often find it uncomfortable keeping eye contact with socially inept people because they will show signs of repulsiveness or being uncomfortable when looked in the eyes.
6. Withdrawing after saying something wrong
When speaking with someone and they say something wrong, a socially inept person will most likely back away and leave. They will also feel a massive feeling of regret and shame for doing so. Saying something wrong in public is something that bugs them greatly and it will haunt them for days.
This is also one of the reasons why socially inept people choose not to interact with others. They think that if they just avoid interactions, they’ll never be in a position where they’ll end up saying something stupid.
Once they do say something wrong, they’ll spend minutes or even hours wondering what they could’ve said better. They spend so much time thinking “man I should’ve said something like—” or anything similar.
7. Can’t empathize with others
Some people say one thing but are completely feeling another. A person who’s going through a tough time will sometimes say “Oh I’m fine. Don’t worry about me” instead of just saying what they mean. A socially skilled and socially inept person will approach this situation differently.
A socially skilled person will say something like “You know you can talk to me. What’s going on?” or “It’s okay if you don’t want to talk about it. But if you do, I’m here okay?”. Someone who’s not will just believe the person’s words, shrug it off and continue with the interaction.
The key component here is empathy. An empathetic person can point out a person’s emotions beyond their words. Socially skilled people are very empathetic either in nature or in practice. Socially inept people, however, tend to be less empathetic.
When speaking with someone, an empathetic person will know if someone is going through a problem despite being told otherwise. A socially skilled person will know how to approach that situation. A person who isn’t empathetic will simply carry on without acknowledging the other person’s emotions.
8. They tend to be clumsy in public
They can seem very normal and calm whenever they are by themselves, but whenever they’re surrounded by many people, they become extremely clumsy.
There are many reasons for this, but mainly it’s because they get extremely self-conscious and anxious in public. Their self-confidence can crash down and they will start behaving uncomfortably. They’ll either stumble on chairs and tables easily, stutter throughout sentences, or bump into other people constantly by always backing away. There will always scenarios where they’ll become clumsy, but they normally aren’t clumsy people in nature. They just become this way when they’re in social settings.
9. Most of their friends now are old friends
Socially inept people find it very difficult to build new friendships. Therefore, most, if not all of their friends now are friends they’ve known from a long time ago. Whether it be childhood friends, friends from school, or other people they met elsewhere, they always tend to be friends which they’ve met a far while back.
While it is very good keeping in touch with your old friends, your social horizon will never expand if you don’t make new friends. You won’t be able to explore new things, meet new personalities, and have new opportunities if you don’t try to build new friendships. For this reason, many socially inept people have a very limited perception of human behavior. Which ultimately makes them more socially inept.
10. They can come off as arrogant
Socially inept people aren’t just those who are shy and awkward in public. Some socially inept people are those who can’t see the line between confidence and arrogance. They can mean well, but they execute their behavior very poorly.
For example, someone is talking about a foreign city they just went to and they loved it! To add to that conversation, a socially inept person will try to one-up that person’s story. Here’s how a situation like that can play out.
Person 1: My wife and I went to Dubai. The place was magical! The architecture was breathtaking.
Socially inept person: I went to Shanghai a couple of years ago. The architecture was amazing too.
In a scenario like this, you can see that the socially inept person is trying to contribute to the conversation but is doing so in a bad way. They intended to simply have a proper conversation with someone, but they ended up one-upping the other person, and therefore sounding arrogant.
How To Stop Being Socially Inept
It can be very frustrating being socially inept and wanting to build friendships with others. You want to relate to other people but you don’t know how to. You want to be cool in public but you just can’t seem to do so. Thankfully, being socially inept isn’t something that you carry forever. You can do something about it if you want to. And since you’re still reading this article, I can safely assume that you do want to. So let’s do just that, shall we?
Before anything else, you need to know that you’re not alone in this situation. So many people in the world are socially inept. A lot of them are frustrated about it, and some of them just don’t care anymore.
You, on the other hand, will actively try to stop being socially inept. You’re doing this because you want to build connections and friendships with others. You want to have people with you in moments of celebrations and periods of downfall. You want to be able to have fun in social gatherings without feeling so anxious about what you’ll do wrong. With that said, here are a couple of ways you can stop being socially inept:
1. Observe socially adept people
On the other end of the spectrum from the socially inept are the socially adept. If you want to become like them, you need to observe their behavior. Check out their body language, observe their facial expressions, and see how they interact with others.
Socially skilled people are very calm and confident in public. They have a very low chance of doing something awkward or stupid because of this confidence. They don’t constantly think to themselves “I wonder what wrong I’ll do next” or “I wish I don’t mess this up”. Instead, they just have fun and live in the moment. You should too if you want to stop being socially inept. Live in the moment. Have fun. Be grateful that you have the opportunity to socialize.
2. Think outwards instead of thinking inwards
When out in public, learn to read the room and be empathetic of everyone you meet. Mind your surroundings and focus on the person you’re talking to instead of thinking of yourself constantly. If you keep on thinking inwards, you will be very self-conscious and you’ll overthink constantly. “Am I acting fine?”, “Is what I’m wearing okay?”, “Do these people even like me?”. The more you do this, the more uncomfortable you’ll become. You need to stop thinking like this and just focus on thinking outwards.
If you start thinking outwards in social settings, you’ll start to pick up on a lot of things more. You’ll know which people are a part of a social group, you’ll know who came with whom, who’s in a relationship with whom, who’s friends with which, so on and so forth. In personal interactions, you’ll be able to empathize with them. You’ll see the emotions beyond their words, you can keep the exchange healthy, and you can have an amazing conversation.
3. Keep a level of calm
A very important trait to have when socializing is to relax. Just keep a cool head, and don’t allow your emotions to go haywire. Don’t be too anxious, but don’t be too confident either. There’s a fine line there that you need to find and keep.
If something exciting happens, don’t go crazy celebrating. Just be collected, be happy for it happening, and allow your body to show that emotion at just the right amount. If something goes wrong, don’t panic. Remain calm and figure out what you can do about it. Once you figure out what you can do, then do it. If there isn’t, then refrain from worrying.
4. Allow mistakes to happen – they don’t necessarily mean you’re socially inept
You need to stop being afraid of making mistakes if you want to stop being socially inept. Mistakes happen to everyone and it happens all the time. If it happens to you, let it happen.
See mistakes as something you can learn from. If you do something wrong during a social interaction, figure out what you can do next time to avoid that same mistake from happening. You somehow end up saying something wrong, just apologize and move on. If you end up doing something silly, laugh it off and move forward. Don’t let your mistakes get the better of you. Instead, learn from them and move on.
5. Keep conversations running smoothly
One of the best ways to keep a conversation running smoothly is to be an active listener. Whenever you’re speaking to someone, listen closely. You’ll be able to pick up on the important details better.
Another thing you need to do is to let the other person finish their thoughts when they are talking. Don’t cut them off. You can only say a few affirmative hums such as “uh-huh” or “oh, okay” but always let them finish their thoughts. Once they’re done talking and it’s your turn, pick up on what they said and say your piece. Add value to that conversation. If a question needs to be asked, ask away.
6. Be relatable, in a good way
Allow your humanity to come forward when you’re socializing. You don’t need to be this amazing, extraordinary person just to be liked by others. You can be the most relatable person and people will love you.
Share a few embarrassing stories. Tell others things about yourself you wouldn’t normally share with strangers. Let them know who you are. Your dreams, your goals, who you are as a person. Let them see that and people will be glad to have you around.
A great friendship begins with a good conversation
If you want to go out there and build friendships, socialize properly, and have an amazing time around other people, stop being socially inept. Practice, practice, and most of all, practice. Once you feel like you’ve practiced enough, go out there and apply yourself. Meet people, build friendships, and most of all, have fun.
If you’d like to go beyond just overcoming social ineptitude, and learn social skills that will you give you an edge, then you’re in the right place. In my eBook and other programs, I’ll show you exactly what to do, how to talk, and how to build friendships. I share with you the steps to go from having no friends to having exactly the friend circle you’ve been dreaming about. Start learning here.