Helping a socially awkward friend can deepen your friendship and help him interact with others.

Helping a Socially Awkward Friend

by S. Grey

People vary in how outgoing they are. Some people can talk to complete strangers easily, while others struggle to express themselves to close friends. Socially awkward friends may not have an extensive social network -- they often keep to themselves or very few others. At times, they need help in their interactions with others. Your assistance will increase their confidence and strengthen the bond you share.

1. Is Help Wanted?

Before trying to help a socially awkward friend become more social, find out if he wants to be less shy. Gently let him know that you notice his limited social interactions and ask how he feels about this. Your friend may not see himself as socially awkward or may be content with interacting with fewer people. In this case, accept your friend as he is and do not offer unwanted help. If he does feel socially awkward and would like help, begin the process of helping him become more social.

2. Inclusion

A simple way to help your friend become more extroverted is to include her in your social activities. Chris MacLeod of SucceedSocially.com recommends spending time getting to know her -- it will make her more comfortable with you and boost her confidence. When hanging out with groups, invite her to go with you. If she goes, don't pressure her to talk. Gently ease her into the conversation when the opportunity arises. Do not force her to be social. Give her a choice with your invitation and respect her if she chooses not to go.

3. Offer Encouragement

For some socially awkward people, it is a challenging adjustment to increase interaction with others. Let your friend know you are in his corner. When he interacts with others, let him know how well he did. The affirmation will bring a smile to his face and increase his confidence. Remind him of the positive things you see in him. He may not notice his good qualities, so your reminders can change how he approaches people. Encouragement will inspire him to do what it takes to be more social.

4. Modeling Behavior

Modeling good social skills will profoundly affect your friend. Albert Bandura, a pioneer in psychology, proposed that modeling works through vicarious reinforcement. His theory states that you are more likely to behave in a certain way if you see someone else being rewarded for it. If your social skills seem rewarding to your friend, she may try them. Demonstrate different ways to interact with people, from how to respond to jokes to how to start a conversation. Your friend could make a mental note and use the same methods in the future.

About the Author

S. Grey has a Master of Science in counseling psychology from the University of Central Arkansas. He is also pursuing a PhD and has a love for psychology, comic books and social justice. He has been published in a text on social psychology and regularly presents research at regional psychology conferences.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images