How can a person be more outgoing?
Are there ways to become more social?
Dr. Sal Raichbach, Psy.D.
Director of Clinical Development, Ambrosia Treatment Center
Practice makes perfect
Like any other skill, building up the confidence to be more outgoing takes time and effort. The best way to hone your skills is to practice engaging with people.
Go out of your way to chat with friends, coworkers and even strangers. While you do, work on specific skills like eye contact, body language, and friendliness. Set micro-goals, like maintaining eye contact and smiling, and track your progress.
The more you engage, the more comfortable you will feel, and the less you’ll have to force yourself to interact when the opportunity presents itself.
An easily applicable tip to be more outgoing is to ask others about themselves
When you give others the chance to speak about themselves, you will leave them with a positive feeling about the experience of speaking with you. This positivity will influence the way in which they speak and behave with you, creating a positive cycle that will encourage you to speak with others more often.
Dr. Laura Louis
Licensed Psychologist | Owner, Atlanta Couples Therapy
Practice is the key to being more outgoing
What I tell my clients is that as you step out more in social settings, your confidence in yourself increases. Examples of practicing include asking a question during staff meetings, making small talk with someone while waiting in line and asking friends to hang out.
In my experience as a psychologist, these things will help build your courage in speaking to others.
Megan Cannon, LCSW
Licensed Clinical Social Worker | Owner, Back to Balance Counseling, LLC
If you’re having a hard time being more outgoing, chances are that you’re thoughts are what is getting in the way. Are you frequently caught up in the what-ifs? Of course, there is an array of unfortunate circumstances that can happen to any of us on any given day, but you need to challenge yourself.
Try this: The next time you are stressing and running through the list of what-ifs, I want you to ask yourself how likely is it that the thing you’re worried about will actually happen.
The answer to that question is your evidence. Rely on your evidence to make more realistic choices regarding moving out of your comfort zone. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that’s going to happen if I try this?” Is the worst thing that can happen embarrassment? If so, practice your skills to make sure you can recover quickly from an embarrassing mishap.
Christine Scott-Hudson, MA, MFT, ATR
Licensed Psychotherapist | Marriage and Family Therapist | Owner, Create Your Life Studio
Host something small
For some people, becoming more outgoing simply involves managing social anxiety. One way to get rid of your social anxiety to help you feel emotionally safe to be more outgoing is to create the social plan yourself.
Start small. Decide on an event you would like to host. Decide who you would feel comfortable around and invite them. Decide the day and time of your event. Decide on the number of guests you would feel comfortable around. Decide on a location where you would feel at ease. Choose a day to host the event when you have nothing pressing before or after the day of your get together.
All of these considerations that you get to choose may help give you a sense of agency and control, decrease your anxiety, and help you feel more comfortable and less anxious, so that you will feel safe to be outgoing.
Work with your introversion and social anxiety by planning to host, with your own comfort level in mind. Your ease and comfort will help your guests also feel more at ease and more comfortable.
Joshua L. Goldstein, Esq.
Immigration Lawyer and Founder, Goldstein Immigration Lawyers
I meet thousands of people every year. Many of these people come to see me when they are faced with difficult situations. And when they meet with me, the last thing they want is an immigration lawyer who seems too passive to fight for their case. This means that every day I step into my office, I need to put on a confident smile and be outgoing.
One thing that helps me be outgoing is to put myself in the other person’s shoes
How would I want someone to make me feel welcome? How would I want someone to approach me? What would make me feel like this person is approachable? I ask myself these questions and try to put my own answers into action. This helps me look past the awkwardness of interacting with someone new.
Even as an introvert, I’ve found that I can still be outgoing. Meeting someone new can be awkward because you never know what they’re going to think about you.
I value my “me time” as much as the next person does, but also recognize the importance of social interaction.
I always try to remember that empathizing with the other person’s feelings can go a long way. Giving the other person a space to talk may make them feel more comfortable. And when the other person feels at ease, this will help me feel more comfortable, as well.
So when someone steps into my office, I always shake their hand and start with a simple, “How are you doing today? What can I do to help you out?”
Edith A. Pearce, Esq.
Personal Injury Lawyer | Founder, The Pearce Law Firm P.C.
Take risks outside your comfort zone
You have to take risks and try something outside your comfort zone to be more outgoing and social. When I graduated from law school in Philadelphia, I started my first job in the suburbs. I wanted to meet new people in the area. I am not an athlete, but I do enjoy biking and skiing.
I took a risk and joined a recreational and social club for biking and skiing in my area. I quickly learned that I was the worst biker of the group when I met the group for their first bike ride. But, to my surprise, most of the group was very eager to help me become better. They actually went slower on their bikes so I could feel part of the group.
The key was they wanted to share their expertise with me and appreciated that I was trying to keep up with them and do my best. I ended up making some great friends and become a much better biker and skier. As the group had regular events on the calendar, it was easy to plan my schedule to make sure I would be able to attend regularly.
If you want to be more outgoing and social, I would encourage anyone to join a group or volunteer organization involving something you enjoy. Even if you are a beginner, oftentimes more experienced members enjoy helping someone who also is interested in the same endeavor.
Bring something special to the party or social event
A good way to be more outgoing is accepting invitations to social events and parties. Sometimes the best icebreaker to going to a party is to bring something unusual.
When I moved into a new neighborhood, I was invited to a neighborhood Halloween party. Although I am not a baker, I decided to make a Harvey Wallbanger Cake for the party which was in the shape of a skull. I put some decorations around the cake as well that kept with the Halloween theme. This cake became the topic of conversation with many guests not only wanting a piece but asking, “Who brought that great cake.”
I have always gone a little above and beyond in bringing something special to a party or social event that often creates conversation. By putting some extra time and thought into something, this signals to the guests that you really appreciated the invitation to the event and have gone the extra mile to make it a success. This creative gift or surprise is often a big hit with the host of the party. This often leads the host to tell everyone, “Look what our new neighbor or friend brought.”
So, before leaving for the social event or party, think of something to bring that may create conversation and let the host of the party know that you are making that extra effort to make the event a great success.
International Love Coach | Mindset Mentor
Many people think that being outgoing is an innate quality, like either you’re outgoing or you’re not. There are many psychological terms like extroversion and introversion that perpetuate this very limiting belief.
The truth is, being outgoing takes a leap of faith and it takes practice. It also helps to focus on the other person rather than on yourself.
In order to be outgoing, you need to be willing to speak-up on a whim
Take a leap of faith, over and over. Carefully thought out responses are not consistent with outgoing behavior. When you have a thought, try just saying it out loud. Of course, you need some sort of filter, but being outgoing means that sometimes you say the wrong thing!
The social perfectionist may find this very challenging because, in order to be outgoing, you need to be willing to make a mistake. You need to trust that your perspective, opinion, comment or voice deserves to be heard as much as anyone else.
The leap of faith is that you are risking that what comes out of your mouth will be positively received by others, knowing that if it isn’t, you can clean up the social mess you just made through further clarification (e.g. “Oops that came out wrong. What I mean is…”)
If you’ve had difficulty being outgoing in the past, you may find it challenging to take these risks. Maybe something bad happened to you when you were a child. But you’re not a child now. You can handle it if someone responds poorly to you.
The more you practice speaking up instead of thinking so much, the more you’ll teach your subconscious that it is safe to be outgoing, even if it is a little emotionally risky.
You might be wondering how to stop worrying so much about it or how to get out of your head and just ACT. The best trick I know is to stop thinking about yourself (e.g. what if they don’t like me) and think about how you can contribute to the other person.
An outgoing person notices who is left out, and goes and says hello. An outgoing person makes a suggestion during a work meeting because their idea could benefit the company. Focus on making a difference and being outgoing will be much more accessible to you.
Certified Life Coach & Personal Trainer, Maple Holistics
Make small assignments for yourself to practice being more vocal
If you’re an introvert, being outgoing is tough work. So don’t plan to suddenly be 100% loud and extroverted. For instance, if you never talk to coworkers because you’re too shy, decide to talk to one a day. Then, once you’ve accomplished this for a week or two, you can add to your mission.
Recognize that you might need some quiet time after to bounce back
Being outgoing requires a lot of effort and energy, something that’s especially draining for an introvert. Make sure to set yourself up for a successful situation, not one that’s too overwhelming, so that your outgoing efforts can be sustainable.
Dr. Jackie Kilraine
Doctor of Chiropractic | Human Potential Coach | Author, Expressing Optima
When we understand that the brain is primarily designed to keep us alive and not necessarily to keep us happy, we can understand why we avoid things that make us uncomfortable.
An area of the brain called the amygdala can over-respond to things that we fear or to things that cause us stress, and it may cause us to avoid those situations to avoid the discomfort.
This re-enforces our own anxieties even when we know no harm can come to us. We have to “turn down the volume” in the amygdala so that we can feel more comfortable in these types of situations that we would normally shun. The brain also does not know the difference between something we vividly imagine and something we actually do.
Imaging activity in a positive light can help your brain feel comfortable and safe when you actually do the activity because it is already familiar with it.
Studies show that the same areas of the brain will show activation when you perform an activity and when you just imagine yourself doing it.
From an epigenetic standpoint, reducing grains, MSG, and soy has been shown to reduce anxiety and insomnia.
Grain sensitivity is genetically very common. Minimizing these foods should be a component in any plan to decrease anxiety and insomnia. A grain sensitivity can interfere with your body’s ability to convert glutamate to GABA.
When there is a variant in the GAD1 genes, glutamate can be in excess and cause anxiety. Lowering the amount of glutamate in your diet by reducing grains, soy, and glutamate can help to balance GABA and glutamate helping you to feel less anxious and more able to explore. You will also experience more sleep which will help as well.
Are you a worrier? If you have the AA expression of the COMT gene you may have an excess of norepinephrine. The COMT gene provides instructions for making an enzyme called catechol-o-methyltransferase. In the brain, COMT helps to breakdown certain chemical messengers called neurotransmitters.
COMT is particularly important in an area at the front of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. This area is involved in emotion, personality, planning inhibition of behaviors among other functions. A person with an AA expression of this gene can have anxiety, panic, paranoia, and insomnia as well as chronic pain.
All of these can make you less outgoing. It is important to find a balance.
Exercise, going outside, getting adequate vitamin D and reducing grains in diet can all help restore balance to the “worrier” type and let you explore more without anxiety.
Actor | Life Coach
It can be hard to pull oneself up and go out when we don’t want to. I suppose the trick, then, is to not give oneself the opportunity to not want to.
When we introverts consider what it means to be more “outgoing”, it’s easy to envision ourselves in situations full of people that we don’t particularly like in places we don’t particularly want to be in.
It’s imperative to change the narrative around these thoughts or remove them altogether. A few tips:
The action comes before motivation
Next time you’re overwhelmed by the idea of going out, give yourself a countdown. Count down from 5, and on 1, commit to the plan, leave the house, whatever. This is a great trick offered from Mel Robbins that helps prevent overthinking in many scenarios.
Start by doing things you’re passionate about
Once you start going out and build momentum in doing so, it only gets easier. To make it easy from the get-go, head out to places that you know offer you unshakeable joy and/or confidence.
If you love soccer, play a pickup game or go get tickets to a professional game. By going out in a way that’s in line with who you are, you’re most likely to enjoy yourself and meet like-minded people.
Don’t assume so much
Going anywhere, even to the grocery store, opens up a massive network of possibility. You have no idea what you’ll see, who you’ll meet, what you’ll get a chance to do.
There are so many variables that you become receptive to, all of which can alter your entire life – in many cases for the better. Maybe your soulmate is in the produce aisle. Maybe a broken shopping cart gives you an idea for an invention. Maybe you’ll save the life of the overly eager shopper that starts eating and choking on cereal before leaving the store.
Beware of how much new opportunity you become exposed to by simply saying yes.
Author, The Art of Happy Moving
Use welcoming body language
The first detail people notice is your body language. To make yourself seem more outgoing, you want to use welcoming body language. I created the acronym SNEAK to help us remember what we need to do in these situations.
Smile, neatness, eye contact, arms open, and kindness. If you use the SNEAK attack, people will see you as friendly and they may even make the first move.
Related: Why is Body Language Important?
Set a goal for yourself
Whether you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert, it can still feel awkward to meet new people. So, set a conversation goal for yourself. Maybe that means smiling at a stranger or saying “hello” for the first time. Perhaps your goal is to invite a co-worker to get coffee. Take it in small, manageable steps and celebrate each victory.
Fake your confidence at first (if you need to)
Few people are comfortable in every social situation, so fake your confidence to get through the initial encounter. Take a deep breath, put your shoulders back, lift your head high, and smile. Simply by acting more confident, you will feel more confident.
Practice making small talk any chance you get
After moving ten times in eleven years, I was thrown into new social situations on a regular basis. At first, it felt awkward to introduce myself to strangers and make small talk. However, once you do it enough, it feels less intimidating.
So, practice making small talk any chance you get, whether it’s at the grocery store or with co-workers. The more often you make small talk, the easier it gets.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker | Therapist
One way to start the process is by changing your negative self-talk
Sometimes it can seem like it’s an extrovert’s world. Networking and building relationships can be challenging when you aren’t outgoing. Make it a routine to make positive affirmations about building new relationships.
Take it in small steps and start with small groups. Is there a fitness class you can join? Could you go out for drinks with coworkers after work one day?
Practice asking people questions about themselves and then take notes
This way, it is easier for you to have a conversation started next time you see them. Smile with your eyes and be prepared to initiate conversations with a small joke. It will help to hide your nerves.
Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern
Here are two tips I suggest:
My philosophy around becoming more outgoing is this: embrace discomfort and take action
Research has shown that exposure to discomfort has many benefits including reduced anxiety, improved social skills, and greater well-being. When we act on what we value instead of what we fear, life moves in a more meaningful direction.
Ground yourself by taking a few deep breaths and focus on the specific character traits you want to embody
Do this whenever you’ve noticed that you’re getting hooked by fear or anxiety. Focusing on your preferred way of acting is a great way to shift your mindset toward thinking about the immediate things you can do to be more outgoing.
Producer, Alphadu Productions | Founder, Berkshire Short Film Festival
Just say it
Whatever is running through your mind, lean over to the person next to you and share it. Make them laugh. Share a funny observation. My best friend marvels at how outgoing I am, she doesn’t understand how I can talk to anyone about anything at any time.
Today there was someone in the background of our selfie who offered to move aside so they wouldn’t be in our picture. I said, “No, please stay, you are part of our landscape!” Afterward, I told that person about a movie idea another friend of ours had about strangers in the backgrounds of photos. Just an interesting bit of trivia. As we walked away, my best friend said “See? I can’t do that.” I replied that it’s just taking the time to share a moment with a stranger, make them part of what is happening.
We should not spend a great deal of time shutting people out
We put in earbuds and look away, avoid eye contact. Stare at our phones or immediately look away when someone looks at us. Why? Say hello. Notice and comment on something you see. If you are thinking it, chances are they are thinking something similar.
Recognize that we are all more alike than different
That is why comedy breaks so many barriers. We bond over movies and tv shows. Tiny acts of kindness like moving your bum over an inch so someone can comfortably sit down on the bus or subway speaks volumes. Telling a joke can light up someone’s bad day.
Even better, give someone a compliment to feel good instantly. When you connect with someone else, you make their day and your day better.
John Crossman, CCIM, CRX
CEO, Crossman & Company
Realize that being more outgoing is just a skill set. Anyone can learn how to do it. You don’t have to be born with it. The key is to consistently make an effort.
Push yourself to try one new way to meet people and network a week
When you go, practice your small talk and meet as many people as you can. When appropriate, follow up with the people you met. The more you do this, the more comfortable it will become. Pace yourself and reward yourself. After going to a new event, schedule some alone time or have a quiet dinner with one or two people.
Communications Specialist, Menorah Park
Life is certainly not going to stand still while you get your courage up to just be you, to find your voice, to find your calling, to make a stand, to change another’s life or outlook. It all begins with you.
Throughout history, many have been silenced. Their rights—and even their lives– have been taken. Their happiness was not a given.
To be ‘outgoing’ is simply to be your self, free from self-doubt and self-judgment
Free from feelings of inadequacy. Free to be alive. Free to be treated with dignity, respect, and love. To be outgoing is to recognize and insist that we all have a place in this universe. Find yours. Speak up, speak out, and speak inward. Love your self. Love your place in this world.
Founder and Owner, Her Space
You have got to push yourself beyond your limits
And then when that becomes comfortable, then you go further and do it again. And another layer of that and another layer of that over and over and over.
If you start out by speaking in front of a few people, then you can level up to a crowd, then a hundred people or a thousand people get easier and easier and easier over and over.
I would deliberately seek out to do something just a little bit more uncomfortable and then a little bit more uncomfortable. But I also had to take the opportunities that came to me and sometimes that was a BIG leap!
But I would ignore the stress and anxiety coming from my body and I would focus on talking to myself in the right way. I would say, “You know you have done this before and you were fine. And good things happened, so stay with it and you can stand being uncomfortable.”
Then I found myself talking to more people, feeling more confident and now, I look for people I’ve never met so I can introduce myself and help them feel more confident and welcome!