Naturally, just getting into a recovery group isn’t enough. You also have to, like… talk to the people in it. This is where social skills come in.
Social skills allow us to build deep emotional connections with others. Those connections can then evolve into meaningful friendships. Finally, those meaningful friendships help us feel less lonely.
Below are three steps I both followed and have taught others in improving social skills. You can practice them with the random people you meet, your acquaintances from the breakup recovery groups, or both.
Note: Some people are naturally going to be more confident or extroverted and will already be beyond the following three steps. If that’s true for you, feel free to skip parts of this “social skills” section — or the whole thing altogether.
Step 1: Glances, smiles, and greeting
Start by making eye contact with the people you encounter in your day-to-day life. When you feel comfortable, incorporate a smile into the routine. When you feel comfortable with even that, add a greeting to the mix. I usually stick with saying “Hey there” or “Good day,” but feel free to experiment with whatever works for you.
Now all that’s left to do is repeat this routine until you become somewhat comfortable with it. When that happens, move on to step 2.
The reason I say “until you become somewhat comfortable with it” is because some people, usually those who are more introverted, will never be entirely comfortable initiating contact/conversations with others. But that’s OK. The point of improving your social skills was never to become totally comfortable around people, but simply more comfortable than before.
Step 2: Advice and opinions
Start by asking the people around you for advice and opinions on everyday things, like the clothes you wear, the environment you’re in, or the things you’re simply curious about.
However, if you’re not comfortable with asking questions to strangers or semi-strangers, there’s a workaround: think of a question and ask a clerk about it. It’s their job to answer, so you might be more comfortable in this scenario.
After weeks of repeating steps 1 and 2, you’ll see improvements in your social skills. When that happens and you’re ready to take things up a notch, move on to step 3.
Step 3: Small talk
Start by initiating small talk with others — be they strangers, acquaintances, or the people in your breakup recovery group.
Small talk refers to a shorter conversation about less important things, like entertainment, the weather, news, travel, etc. However, it is not limited to only those topics. Small talk can also contain emotionally heavy topics, like future goals, dreams, trauma, or deep-seated fears and insecurities.
Also, don’t be afraid to scatter your conversations with jokes, clever remarks, sarcasm, and witty responses. It’s OK to be who you are.
Just whatever you do, don’t be boring. You’re trying to build a connection with a person, not indulge in mindless chatter to pass the time.