I Am Reserved and Need to Be More Social

Updated on April 04, 2011
M.D. asks from San Angelo, TX
17 answers

Besides Toastmasters and Dale Carnegie, which I completed many years ago, what other resources can help me to be more upbeat, upproachable, and friendly? I don't approach groups because I don't want to interrupt the conversation. I also don't sit down with moms at a table unless invited because they might be working on a school project or talking about something personal.
Also, I find it hard to read people who are sometimes friendly and other times totally cold. I tend to avoid them.

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answers from Eugene on

Woody Allen said that 90% of life is just showing up. I've found that doing this helps me meet people. I've been trying to do some networking and eventually go back to work. Just showing up and volunteering at events in my field is leading to some new friendships. Sometimes I hardly do anything, don't get around to talking to all the people I intend to, but over time I am seeing the same faces and they see mine. It's funny that just becoming familiar helps other people to feel like they know me. And that makes it easier to talk to them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Harrisburg on

Smile at everyone you see, from the prince to the pauper and only socialize with those you feel most comfortable. In my opinion, not everyone wants to socialize with me, and neither do I with them.

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answers from Miami on

There is nothing wrong with you. I'm a reserved person too. I don't jump into other people's conversations unless I get the "vibe" they want to include me, or they make a gesture my way that gives me the clear sign they want to include me. It takes me a while to warm up to people I don't know very well but once I do warm up, I am very comfortable talking with others. Don't try to "read" people because your interpretation of them might be wrong. There are a group of moms at my daughters school who I refer to in my mind as the "cheerleader moms." They stand together in a little cluster, the same ones, and I can hear them talking sometimes and it's almost always about their kids. I view myself as a friendly happy person; I have a Christ centered life, my marriage is a happy one, my children are happy and doing very well in school. Yet these moms, when when I smile at them and say hello, they walk past me like I'm nobody significant to them. And you know what? That's okay. They are not the kind of women I would want to befriend anyway because I don't brag about my kids and what they do or don't do or how well they are doing in school, etc. That's not my "thing." I live in a very small community and that in itself makes it difficult to make lasting friendships because a lot of people move away so often. I have made very dear friends with the people in my church and I regard their friendships even higher than the ones I have with my own family.

You can be approachable by smiling at someone and saying a simple, "Hi." A bright cheerful smile speaks volumes. I see so many moms at the school who look so serious all the time and that makes them look unfriendly and unapproachable. I can also say that over the years I have come out of my comfort zone to talk to people because I've been a SAHM for 11 years and still counting and I thrive on conversation with other adults. There had been this very nice lady at my local grocery store which I shop often at. We've always stopped to chit chat and I really liked her. She's so friendly and I thought she and I could hit it off but wasn't quite sure how to initiate a friendship. A couple Christmas' ago, I made a small tin of homemade cookies for her and her husband and I included a little card that I made myself (I'm crafty like that ) and I included a picture of my family with all of our names on it and on the back of the card, I included my address, my phone number, email address, too. I had always remembered her name but I had a feeling that even though she saw me every two weeks, she had forgotten my name so putting my name on the card helped her to remember my name and we've since emailed each other many times, and I've been to her house too. I can say with confidence that a friendship has been formed now. She has told me many times how much she enjoys my friendship, and I feel the exact same about her.
....just take a deep breath, and smile at those around you. Say hello with a smile and they will hear it in your voice, as well. You can't force yourself to be someone you are not because it will come through to those around you as fake. Just be who you are so that those around you will appreciate the person you are on the inside.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Me too! You are shy, and respectful, and probably have a bit of anxiety. I have found it gets better as you age.

Get involved. Be a room mom. Then you are forced to call people and you will be able to tell who you connect with. Or get on a committee to ferret out women you just get along with.

If you get good vibes from the Mom of your child's friend....... then invite the Mom to bring her child and stay for tea.

What is your interest? Seek out clubs, etc... with your interest, and you will most likely meet other women like minded. That way you don't have to work.....it just happens.

I have learned most people feel like us on some level. Be comfortable with who you are and just be yourself best you can. People generally will love you for that even if you are different from them. And if they don't.......as my Mom used to say....."Who needs them?"

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You can do a lot just by having a smile and looking positive in everyday life.

I know you've seen the people in the mall, store, etc with scowl looks... I wouldn't approach them.

I do approach people who are friendly, projecting a positive attitude.

I agree, get involved with something that you LOVE to do and then you'll have something to discuss in common.

Stretch yourself..... make that step

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I stink at this too. One thing tha thelps me is e-mail and FB, it is "safe" small talk and lets me get to know people without the face-to-face anxiety so that it is easier in person.

My street is designed so that it has small group of houses on it. I, via e-mail, suggested all the women do a girls night out, even though I only know most of them in a very limited way. I organized it - dinner at a local restaurant - and they loved it, and we all came to it equally - sitting aroudn a table together, not cliquely groups. Maybe there is some group of people you could do this with, Moms, neightbors, etc? I plan to do it when my youngest starts preschool and invite all the moms of 3 year olds over from her class. Being class mom or joining the PTA is a great way to meet people too.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

I have the same problem w/ trying to meet new people or when I go to parties w/ new people. It's hard to try to make friends w/ there are established cliques. Also - I'm like a mirror, if your nice to me, I'm nice to you. If you're cold, I'm cold back - but I'm trying to just put a smile on my face and introduce my self more. You have to keep on trying.

Here are some GREAT books to help you w/ conversation starters:
1) How to Instantly Connect w/ Anyone: http://www.amazon.com/How-Instantly-Connect-Anyone-Relati...

2) How to Start a Conversation & Make Friends: http://www.amazon.com/How-Start-Conversation-Make-Friends...

3) Conversationally Speaking : Tested New Ways to Increase Your Personal and Social Effectiveness :http://www.amazon.com/Conversationally-Speaking-Increase-...

Just keep on trying and have a smile on your face. Also - this is silly but it works. When you meet new people be excited to meet them, like you are greeting your favorite pet after a long day of work. I adore my cats and I started treating new people like I treat my cats and it's very silly, but it makes the new person feel good that I'm excited to meet them. But make sure it's genuine. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Sigh, I feel like you too. I feel I have so much to offer as a friend but some how I just don't do to good staring friendships eye to eye way.
Sometimes we just have to take the bull by the horns, when we moved to Florida I put cards to all my neighbors mail box for holidays (Christmas, Halloween, spring, etc) while most of them never said nothing back, there 3 moms that I stared a friendship after that, I was happy with those 3, still kept sending some cards to all here and there.
I didn't the same when we moved here because I was a little embarrased for all the ugly things we were going through, but when we move I want to do this again.
Maybe if you send a holiday's letter to your neighbors or friends of your kids would open some friendships?
EDIT: I just read Denise answer and I think is a great idea too, and it remind me how my daughter made more friends, she is very good a drawing, so she took classes, not only she was with people that share her likes, but they will come to her for advice and stared conversations.
So maybe get in to a class of something you love?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

What about joining a book club?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Victoria on

why dont you approach the group and see if they need help. if you begin to view yourself as useful or proactive, even important to them for a new insite on how to do something you might feel more comfortable. start to do it with little steps. like hey could i help? or would you like any help. wording these questions is important. if you ask your kid how was your day? most likely you will get a one word responce "fine". if you ask what did you do for lunch/learn in band? try not to over think it. if they say no were great look for someone else to help. its a great ice breaker. or also if you ask for an assignment from who ever is in charge and then ask another person to do you a favor they automaticaly think of you as a friend. its a subconscious thing.


answers from Norfolk on

Find something you like to do - cooking, gardening, horseback riding, making stain glass lamps, a hobby - and take a class where you meet people with similar interests. Then talk about it.
I like to putter around in the garden. I'm not the best vegetable grower on the block but no one grows herbs like I do. I talk with the neighbors about weeds, bugs, butterflies and birds. If any of us have spare crops, we share with each other. I've always got basil and rosemary to spare. One of the ladies has a few horses and she's always willing to give away horse manure = it's gardener's gold!
In places where you are not familiar with the crowd, talking about traffic and/or the weather is sure fire small talk.
As well as talking - it's as useful to listen and be interested in what the other person is saying.
Just relax and be yourself!



answers from Houston on

I am the complete polar opposite. I can talk to anybody, anytime, anywhere. The joke in my family is that when I was young, "I would talk to a tree if I thought it would talk back to me"...thats just it...its just talking. Interacting. My daughter is somewhat shy...(she didnt get that from me!!) I promote her introducing herself.."hi!! my name is...." 'whats yours?"
Cracking jokes helps....(even if they are corny)
I can easily stand on a stage in front of people and talk into a mic...you say that you dont sit down unless invited...why? what is the worst thing that can happen?
Take this one piece of advice...in most situations, you will probably never see these people again...so, who cares what they think? I honk and wave at people while driving (embarrassing to my fam)...its just WHO I am...everybody has to be who they are to make the world go 'round.....


answers from Boston on

Join a networking group. Has to be the right one but you can have a lot of fun with it. I did some T Harv ecker seminars. Those were fun and you met a ton of great people.



answers from College Station on

Just decide to be friendly. Approach a group and say "may I join you" and then introduce yourself. The first time is really hard, but it gets easier. What is the worst they can say "no" right? You are not out anything.

Those two faced people are hard for most people to read and I wouldn't worry about it. Just try not to be one of them.



answers from Seattle on

I don't know how old your kids are, but what about joining a Mom's club? I am not outgoing and consider myself to be very much how you described yourself. But bringing my daughter to Mom's clubs events has been great. The pressure is kind of off me coming up with something to say because it is all about the kids, getting them to play nicely together, etc. Naturally you form relationships with the other moms you see all the time. As Nancy W. said, just becoming familiar with other people naturally forms some bond...even if you're not best friends with these people, the connections are great and very fulfilling... and good for your kids too.



answers from Portland on

I agree too, with Nancy, in that just being there sometimes helps.

Also, though, I know and understand-- very deeply-- the feelings you are talking about. I used to feel rather freakish about it , to be quite honest. And I have to tell you, adult parties where the people are mostly strangers (husband's work colleagues or friends)-- it's only recently that I've been able to 'do' those with any degree of comfort at all. I felt terrible about myself because of my discomfort.

I actually once took the city bus home from a party, because my husband is such a social butterfly and couldn't see how I was having a terrible time. All the women in this group knew each other from grad school and no one said "boo" to me. My guy can chat with anyone. ugh!

Turns out, I'm an introvert! I thrive on one-on-one/very small group interactions. While parties and those larger, more random gatherings used to feel socially-paralyzing, I'm getting better at just feeling comfortable listening until someone asks "So, who's mom are you?" I have to say, even with our relatively friendly parent community at my son's preschool, I often have to dive in and just say hello-- seems like *everyone* also has some of the same fears and concerns about getting those conversations started. Either they'll talk to those who they have developed some sort of social relationship with, or are very reluctant to talk at all.

So, if you are curious about these groups/individuals, maybe finding a moment when one of them is alone might be a good start in approaching. "Say, I noticed a bunch of you sitting over there. What are you working on?" or "Mind if I join you?"

It's never easy, but it gets better! Good wishes...



answers from Austin on

I know someone who is also an introvert. The sad thing is that people think she is a snob or unfriendly and doesn't want to talk to anyone. If you talk to her one-on-one, she is fine. But in a group setting, she will not approach a group, or join the conversation. People often ask me, "what's with her?" The more you avoid people, the more you are telling them you don't think they are worth your time.

To keep from being thought of in a negative way, be sure to ask others questions if you are in a social gathering. Ask about their job or family, where they live, how long they have lived in TX, where they grew up, etc. Have several questions ready. It just takes practice. The more you do it, the more you will realize that most people love talking about themselves and will enjoy your interest.

If it's a group of moms, ask if you can join them. It is the easiest way to let them know you'd like to join them. If you don't join in the conversation, they will wonder what they said to turn you off.

Stop assuming people don't want you to join them, whether there's a project or personal conversation, etc. (You can tell if it's really personal if they are talking very quietly with everyone leaning toward each other.) Stop thinking that you have nothing of value to add to a conversation. The few times someone is cold to you, assume the best. They might not be feeling well, they might have just heard some bad news, they might be tired, etc. Don't assume it's because of you. If you come across someone who really is cold, don't assume the majority of the rest of the world is like them.

Just keep the focus off yourself and you will be fine. The more you focus on yourself, the worse you will feel about yourself.

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