There are typically two types of people at any social event.
The one dominating the conversation and effortlessly engaging those around them with their animated stories and opinions.
And the one cowering in the corner, avoiding the spotlight and almost having a panic attack whenever someone approaches them.
Ok, sure, there are many people in between these two extremities. But my point is that it’s easy to spot someone who is socially confident and someone who is not.
Lacking confidence in your social skills doesn’t just cause anxiety and awkwardness. It can also severely hinder your ability to make connections.
But there is hope on the horizon!
Understanding the behaviors associated with poor social skills can help you recognize and address your insecurities, leading to more fulfilling social interactions.
Here are the 8 most common behaviors that indicate someone needs more confidence in their social skills.
1) Avoiding eye contact
One of the subtle yet common signs of social insecurity is avoiding eye contact.
If someone lacks confidence in their social abilities, they feel uncomfortable making direct eye contact.
Instead of looking at the person they are talking to in the eyes, they will glance away or focus on objects or surroundings.
To the other person, it can look like they are uninterested or disengaged.
But actually, this behavior signals discomfort or a lack of self-assurance.
Eye contact is a crucial part of effective communication. So, this behavior (which is often unconscious) can significantly hinder your ability to foster meaningful connections.
Moreover, research has found that lack of eye contact can make you more vulnerable to persuasion.
It also hinders your ability to read the other person’s facial expressions, making it harder to understand what they’re really saying.
Here’s another typical body language behavior in someone who lacks confidence in their social skills…
2) Closed-off posture
When someone is socially confident, they stand tall with their chest open, shoulders back, and arms by their side.
But when someone is socially anxious or unconfident, they will likely:
- Cross their arms in front of their chest
- Hunch their shoulders
- Keep their head down
This is known as a closed-off posture, which unconfident people subconsciously use as a protective mechanism in conversations.
This posture serves as an attempt to shield oneself from potential rejection or judgment.
If you lack confidence, you might use your body to create a physical barrier, hoping that it will, in turn, protect your feelings from getting hurt.
However, this posture signals defensiveness and a closed-off attitude to others, impeding genuine connection and communication.
3) Laughing nervously
There is a big difference between a confident, authentic laugh and a false one rooted in anxiety.
Nervous laughing is a typical behavior that people who lack confidence use in social interactions.
Their default reaction is to laugh nervously when faced with uncertainty or discomfort.
It serves as a coping mechanism but rarely gets a good reception, as it comes across as forced or insincere.
If you lack confidence, you might resort to this behavior whenever you receive a compliment.
Unconfident people find it hard to accept praise. So, rather than saying thank you, you might laugh it off and then change the subject.
Another situation where you might use nervous laughter is when you sense tension.
For example, if you accidentally said the wrong thing and are worried you offended someone, you might laugh in an attempt to diffuse any tension.
4) Using excessive filler words
If someone constantly uses filler words like ‘erm’ and ‘uh’ when they talk, it’s most likely because they lack confidence in their social skills.
When someone has social anxiety, it can feel challenging to find the right words to say and then string them together in a sentence in the correct way.
Instead, they might mix up their words or feel like their mind has gone blank.
The moments of silence this creates can feel very awkward, so you might unconsciously use filler words as placeholders to fill any potential silence,
Because you don’t feel confident in what they are saying, you worry that the other person will judge or evaluate you negatively. So, you avoid gaps in your speech to appear more self-assured.
But as research has found, this is the worst thing to do. Using filler words makes you appear less confident and less credible than allowing gaps in the conversation.
Using too many filler words can also distract the listener from the point you’re trying to make, resulting in reduced understanding.
And on the subject of words, here’s one that unconfident and anxious people use excessively…
5) Being overly apologetic
The quote may say, ‘Sorry seems to be the hardest word.’ But for people who lack confidence in their social skills, it is one of the most commonly used words.
People who are socially anxious or unconfident tend to apologize excessively for minor mistakes or perceived offenses.
Often, they will go so far as to apologize when the other person is in the wrong, not them.
Why do they do this?
This behavior stems from a fear of being judged or rejected.
You might feel that excessively using the word sorry makes you appear kind. As a result, you believe others are less likely to start conflict and react negatively to you.
But in reality, you don’t come across as kind and sweet. Instead, it just highlights your low self-esteem and social incompetence further.
Some studies have also found that people get annoyed by others over-apologizing.
6) Difficulty asserting boundaries
While socially insecure people have no problem apologizing, one word they struggle with is ‘no.’
People lacking confidence find it challenging to assert boundaries effectively.
Along with difficulty saying no, you might find it hard to express your needs and preferences.
It comes back to that fear of conflict or rejection.
To be liked and accepted, you may choose to tolerate uncomfortable or disrespectful behavior from others.
Of course, this just further erodes your self-confidence and self-worth.
What’s more, it can negatively impact your mental health and even lead to burnout.
7) ‘Sitting on the fence’
If you’ve never heard the phrase ‘sitting on the fence,’ let me explain…
When someone is ‘sitting on the fence,’ they remain indifferent and avoid supporting a particular side in the discussion.
People who lack confidence often hesitate to share their thoughts or opinions for fear of judgment or rejection.
So, instead, they remain quiet, contributing as minimally as possible to the conversation.
How do you know if you do this?
If you are in a one-on-one conversation and the other person asks your opinion, you will try to divert the conversation by changing the subject.
Typically, people who lack confidence initiate superficial small talk, avoiding deeper conversations that require vulnerability and authenticity.
However, this reluctance to be open and vulnerable can lead to missed opportunities for connection and personal growth.
8) Avoiding social interactions
People who lack confidence tend to avoid the spotlight. They hate standing out and try to blend into the background instead.
But if someone is dealing with a severe lack of confidence, they might avoid social settings altogether.
This behavior is typically due to a combination of lack of confidence and extreme social anxiety.
To avoid the perceived risks of interaction (such as rejection and humiliation), they might continuously turn down invitations to social gatherings and events.
However, while avoidance temporarily relieves discomfort and awkwardness, it ultimately reinforces feelings of isolation and limits opportunities for growth and connection.
Dealing with lack of confidence in social skills
If you or someone you know often displays these behaviors, know that it is possible to increase your confidence and thrive in social settings.
The first step is acknowledging the issues and accepting them as challenges to overcome.
Then, identify the areas that need the most improvement, such as initiating conversations, maintaining eye contact, or asserting boundaries.
Then, start to take baby steps towards improvement.
Developing social skills takes practice and patience, so don’t expect change overnight. Gradually expose yourself to more social situations, setting small challenges that increase over time.
Confront any negative thoughts that arise as you do so and replace them with more positive ones. Finally, remember to celebrate your progress, no matter how small, along the way!
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