How to Socialize Effectively
In order for a society to have a strong foundation and to stay intact, the ubiquitousness of pleasant and effective social interaction between the inhabitants is imperative. Our interactions not only fulfill our communication needs, but also enable us to carve out rules, regulations, laws, and institutions to live by. These social interactions also help in shaping up the culture, language and tradition at large. They can be verbal and nonverbal.
Social interactions surround our behaviors and define our roles in the society. It also cultivates an environment conducive to mutual learning and growth. The phenomena of interaction begin from early childhood and lasts till death. A good interaction is also crucial for good mental and physical well-being. People who are more interactive and expressive are found to be happier and healthier than those who are least expressive and prefer to live in isolation. A strong social support system is also promoted by healthy interactions, which help in meeting one’s emotional and social needs. Our immune system becomes strong when we connect and share with our fellow beings.
Recent times are flooded by stress and negativity, affecting human health. A positive interaction provides us with moral support and encouragement to keep us going strong and facing the rough tides during our journey of life.
A frequent interaction is especially important for older people in keeping many adverse effects at bay. That is an age when, apart from physical comfort, a person needs social/emotional acceptance and acknowledgement from those around.
5 types of interaction include:
It is the most frequently observed type in our daily lives. When we meet/greet each other, we exchange pleasantries and kind words. Same is the case when we bid farewell to each other. A matter of equality is involved in case of exchange.
Working together to achieve mutually defined goals is cooperation. We combine our strengths and compensate for each other’s weaknesses. Cooperation paves the way for team work and allows team members to achieve wonders.
There is no equality in competition. It is not bad in itself, but the way it is used. It enables to improve one’s performance and enhance the quality of the outcome, but at the same time it can also end up in stress and conflict.
It is the sign of opposition, disagreement, and contradiction. If not resolved soon, it can turn into bigger crisis and a threat to the relationship.
It is a negative form of interaction that involves pressurizing tactics applied to achieve something by force and compulsion, disrupting the relationship badly.
A person who gets involved in frequent positive interactions is better at managing stress, coping with anxiety and depression, having an overall positive effect on his physical and mental health. Situation can be contrary if a person ends up in frequent negative interactions. People can be seen abusing drugs and experiencing other psychological stresses as a result of a negative interaction.
Yale University School of Medicine reveals in a research that older adults get benefitted a lot by positive social interactions. They turned out to be healthier, happier and lived longer than those who were socially isolated. Since social interactions keep the brain active, problems like Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and undue anxiety can be lessened greatly. Feeling valued can prove to be a psychological cushion for us and help us in being more optimistic about life in general.
The verbal side of interactions is fulfilled by linguistics and nonverbal by body language, gestures, postures, and eye contact. In this advancing telecommunication age we can have tremendous sources to interact with each other uninterrupted. Social media, convenient telephone calls, and video calling top the list.
Apart from the regular media, other platforms like exercising in the gym, club memberships, and voluntary work also provide an opportunity to interact positively.
There are times when people feel uncomfortable in socializing. This usually happens when one meets the other for the very first time or doesn’t know the other person too well. Socializing is a learnable skill which, once mastered, will pay you wonders throughout your life. Some of the steps can help in socializing effectively, those include:
When it comes to meeting new people for the first time, negativity tries to take its toll and can demotivate us to take the right initiative. A person doesn’t feel energetic enough. Thinking about it positively and taking it easy can make it as easy as breathing. Meeting someone who is worth interacting with, gives us an opportunity to learn something new, and broadens our vision. Take it easy and be moderate. Don’t raise your expectations to unrealistic levels. If you cannot find the right people, it is perfectly okay to not approach them at all.
The comfort level involved in a conversation defines the length of that interaction. Courtesy and politeness are two factors to maintaining a healthy interaction. Never make the other person feel as if you are not/least interested in talking to him. Always be gentle and keep expressing your pleasing gesture throughout the conversation. Keeping the other person at ease can win you a good friend.
Interacting socially among people will not jeopardize your uniqueness. One doesn’t have to let go of one’s individuality in order to be a part of the interacting group. It gives us a chance to learn from each other, because everyone is unique and has own qualities. Remember, no one can teach you everything, but everyone can teach you something.
Be open and welcoming in your interactions. You don’t have to stick to just one or two people while interacting. Following the scarcity mentality, people start feeling inadequate. You will always find other to interact on some other interesting topics.
Don’t just sit in one place and spend the entire time conversing to just one person. Be active and move around to different spots in the area to socialize with others. This would make you feel more lively, confident and dynamic.
There are certain situations when the other person doesn’t feel like talking much, or have nothing in common to talk about, or too tired to have a conversation. In order to save it for later or to prevent oneself from feeling awkward, one should know when and where to stop. It is better to stop than to facing a bitterly disastrous end, shutting all the doors to that person.
A human cannot survive without interacting with other human beings. Socializing and experiencing the feeling of belonging to others has a refreshing effect on mental, emotional, and physical health. It helps us in fulfilling one of our vital needs by giving us the psychological air. It is a key to soul to soul connection. This is in our nature. Condemning social interaction is synonymous to condemning ourselves. Open the doors of your soul to others to build this strong connection. Happy socializing!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Sadaqat Ali, a graduate from Dow Medical College, Karachi, is a recognized Addiction Psychiatrist with a background of training at Hazelden, Minnesota, USA and VitalSmarts. He is the Project Director of Easy Interventions & Willing Ways.