When you think of someone who is socially inept, you may not think of yourself.
You probably figure since you have friends, you go out, you know people who like you, and you are good at your job, you must be socially skilled. Otherwise, wouldn't you be a loner?
Maybe, but here’s the thing.
People who are inept in social situations are often unaware of the fact that they are this way because it’s uncomfortable for their friends talk to them about it.
This makes sense because no one wants to risk hurting someone's feelings, especially if it is a friend.
- What Does Socially Inept Mean?
- Are You Socially Inept? 25 Of The Best Ways To Know For Sure
- 1. Your conversations with new people are often cut short.
- 2. You avoid interacting with people.
- 3. You notice others easily pair up for projects, but you are often assigned a partner.
- 4. Dates often go badly.
- 5. People keep a physical distance from you or lean away from you.
- 6. Romantic relationships don't last.
- 7. People ignore what you say in group conversations.
- 8. Your self-esteem is impacted by other people.
- 9. People avoid eye contact with you.
- 10. You overthink social interactions.
- 11. People tell you that you're awkward.
- 12. You consistently get one-word answers when conversing with others.
- 13. Things you say don't come across as intended.
- 14. You start to stutter or stammer.
- 15. Your friends seem to have a best friend, but you don't.
- 16. You fear being left alone with a friend of a friend.
- 17. You often find yourself physically on the outskirts of groups.
- 18. You're clumsy.
- 19. You never seem to make new friends.
- 20. You fill awkward pauses with non-sensical or inappropriate comments.
- 21. You hate ordering food.
- 22. You isolate yourself at your partner's family dinner.
- 23. You hide when the doorbell rings.
- 24. You get annoyed when people call you instead of text you.
- 25. You don't know how to end conversations.
What Does Socially Inept Mean?
“Inept” is defined as having very little skill or being clumsy.
Therefore, being inept in a social situation suggests that someone lacks typical social skills that are widely accepted, and they're unable to judge their interactions with other people in an acceptable way.
Ignorance of appropriate social skills can lead someone to live in their own world, unaware they might be offending or putting off others.
If you are aware of your socially awkward tendencies, you may be wondering if they are normal or if everyone experiences them at some point.
Let's address some socially inept behaviors you may be aware of and some you might not have previously considered.
The social cues you might be missing could alienate you from the people around you.
Even if someone likes you a lot, social ineptness can be difficult to ignore. Read on to find out if you might come off as awkward in social situations.
Are You Socially Inept? 25 Of The Best Ways To Know For Sure
1. Your conversations with new people are often cut short.
New conversations may end with the other person moving on after a few minutes when people around you seem to be talking for much longer.
This is a sign that other people are uncomfortable talking to you for one reason or another. It also shows that you have a hard time carrying on small talk, or you can't seem to transition from small talk to a deeper conversation.
People who struggle in this area often experience other people moving on to conversations with other people rather quickly because they feel awkward.
2. You avoid interacting with people.
Have you ever noticed that you quickly turn to hide from someone you know when you see them in the grocery store, or you rush to close the elevator to avoid talking to a coworker?
If so, you are likely avoiding people because you feel nervous about the idea of engaging in a conversation with them. You appear standoffish, unapproachable and awkward.
3. You notice others easily pair up for projects, but you are often assigned a partner.
This means that people are avoiding having to work directly with you.
This could be due to your conversation skills, your body language, or even your attitude.
Even if you are a good worker, having a lack of social awareness can dissuade people from wanting to work with you.
4. Dates often go badly.
If you find that you rarely get a second date, then there is a good chance that you are doing things that your dates find unattractive or offputting.
Many socially awkward people don’t quite understand what potential romantic partners find unacceptable.
For example, you could be dominating the conversation, saying offensive things to your date, asking inappropriate questions, or acting in a needy or desperate way.
It is easy to presume that something is off if all of your dates are first dates.
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5. People keep a physical distance from you or lean away from you.
There could be a variety of reasons for this. If you are inept in social situations by disrespecting someone's personal space or being too pushy, people will back up to give themselves more physical space.
If you lack proper hygiene and your appearance or smell reflects that, people around you will physically distance themselves.
6. Romantic relationships don't last.
If you are able to find someone who sees past your awkward tendencies, he or she may eventually get tired of your inept behavior or your inability to interact well with other people.
Your partner might be direct with you and tell you to be more outgoing. However, when things don’t change, he or she is out the door.
7. People ignore what you say in group conversations.
When you disrupt the flow of communication in a group because you can't gauge when and what is suitable to share, then you make it difficult for other people to participate in the conversation.
Awkward pauses are an indication that your comment wasn’t well received. If you continue to miss this social cue, people will notice and the conversation will continue without you.
8. Your self-esteem is impacted by other people.
If your self-esteem often goes up and down while you are socializing, even if you are keeping to yourself, then you likely have some social discomfort and insecurity.
You are trying to determine how other people feel about you through their actions and body language and then letting those cues dictate how you feel about yourself.
This lack of confidence only exacerbates your social awkwardness as those around you sense your discomfort.
9. People avoid eye contact with you.
If you make other people uncomfortable, they will try to avoid connecting with you. You may take over conversations, say bizarre things at inappropriate times, or make people feel physically tense.
No matter the reason, when others avoid eye contact with you, it is a sign that your social conduct is off-putting. This tactic is an easy and subtle way for others to pull back from conversing with you.
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10. You overthink social interactions.
No matter how big or small, you replay social interactions in your head over and over and analyze everything that was said.
You wonder if you offended someone or said something stupid. You feel confused and frustrated about your socializing skills because you never know how the people around you really feel about you.
The more you dwell on past interactions, the more difficult it becomes for you to be engaging and confident in future social connections.
11. People tell you that you're awkward.
If people come out and tell you that you are weird, annoying, or irritating, it is a good sign that you misunderstand social norms, and you're rubbing people the wrong way.
Even though it is hurtful to hear these comments, the people criticizing you are helping you become more aware of your social dissonance.
The best case scenario is when someone who cares about you pulls you aside and gently lets you know about your awkward behaviors. But even if the news isn't presented in a gentle way, try to get past the hurt to learn something and practice new behaviors.
12. You consistently get one-word answers when conversing with others.
This is a sign that someone is trying to get out of the conversation. If he or she gives short answers, this person can prevent the conversation from going past small talk in order to make an exit.
13. Things you say don't come across as intended.
You try to tell someone how much you like them, but you end up making them feel uncomfortable. Or, a friend is upset and you try to make him or her feel better, but you seem to have made things worse.
If you find that your words are rarely received as you intended them to be, it is a clear sign that you need to learn new communication skills.
14. You start to stutter or stammer.
To avoid the discomfort of speaking with someone face-to-face and risking having an awkward silence, you sometimes just blurt out a lot of information, which causes you to trip on your words or say non-sensical things.
You might laugh awkwardly or even shut down and stop talking because you feel so embarrassed and don't know how to explain your conversational sinkhole.
15. Your friends seem to have a best friend, but you don't.
While you might be included in a larger group of friends, within friend groups there are always subgroups made up of people who are especially close to each other.
If you do not have those one or two people whom you can always rely on, it is an indication that people find it difficult to socialize with you one-on-one.
16. You fear being left alone with a friend of a friend.
All of the alarms start to go off in your brain to run as far away as possible, but you try to maintain a consistent amount of small talk to fill the awkward silence while you are counting down the seconds until your friend returns.
You just don't' feel comfortable meeting new people and striking up a real conversation. You find yourself staring at your feet, looking at your watch, or scrolling through your phone avoid the uncomfortable feelings.
17. You often find yourself physically on the outskirts of groups.
Whether you are attending a work event, a party, or Christmas at a family member's house, you tend to stay on the perimeters of groups.
Groups may even start to form around you without including you. A lack of conversation skills may leave you off to the side without a connection or a conversation partner.
18. You're clumsy.
You're not sure why you seem to be pretty capable of doing simple things when you are alone, but once you are around other people, you trip over your own shoelaces or spill your drink.
Your nerves cause you to make embarrassing mistakes that further undermine your social confidence.
19. You never seem to make new friends.
It is great to have long-term friends, however, old friends might be so accustomed to your awkward social behaviors that they don't react to them.
New people notice and react to your awkwardness, but old friends may suffer in silence to avoid causing conflict with you.
Because you continue to hang out with old friends, you may assume there is nothing wrong with your behavior.
As a result, socially awkward people can live for years without knowing they are socially inept.
20. You fill awkward pauses with non-sensical or inappropriate comments.
When you are faced with awkward periods of silence, your brain gets anxious and fills the empty space with the first thought that comes to mind, which often makes no sense.
Or you may make an off-color or inappropriate joke or comment to get a laugh which too often falls flat or causes raised eyebrows.
21. You hate ordering food.
Words become hard to find when you're trying to tell someone what you want to eat. While most servers are very nice, you end up forcing words out of your mouth and hoping they will make sense.
Being put on the spot with attention drawn to you, even in a casual restaurant setting, makes you squirm and feel uncomfortable.
22. You isolate yourself at your partner's family dinner.
You’re at your partner's house, and instead of joining everyone else in the kitchen, you remain seated in the living room because you're unsure if you should insert yourself in the new setting.
You overthink it for too long and wonder if it will be weird if you casually walk in behind everyone and awkwardly stand in the kitchen alone. This long train of thought and an inability to feel confident socializing with your partner's family is a good indication of social ineptness.
23. You hide when the doorbell rings.
If your doorbell rings, your first instinct is to get out of sight to ensure the person at your door can't see you through a window to avoid any possible interaction.
You feel completely unprepared for spontaneous interactions like this and go out of your way to avoid them.
24. You get annoyed when people call you instead of text you.
Can't they just sum up whatever they want to say in a few words? Why do they need to speak by phone?
You inevitably wait to hear the voicemail instead of picking up the phone because you fear the discomfort of real conversation or of your potential awkwardness.
25. You don't know how to end conversations.
You know the conversation has gone on too long because you are talking about the weather again, but you are not quite sure how to wrap it up.
The conversation should have ended a while ago, but you keep blathering on because you can't extricate yourself smoothly, and you don't give the other person a chance to do it either.
How to Improve Your Social Abilities
If you feel like a lot of these issues apply to you, there are things you can do to improve your social skills, such as:
The beginning of any positive change is self-awareness. It may be difficult to acknowledge that you are socially inept, but once you do, you can begin practicing new skills and habits that will boost your confidence and make you more attractive as a friend and social companion.
Don't allow your social discomfort or feelings of shame about your social skills to hold you back from taking action. Every small step you take to improve your skills moves you closer to being the socially assured person you want to be.