The human being is of a gregarious nature, and independently of our personality characteristics we need contact with others in order to achieve an adequate social development, which allows us to learn from others and to know ourselves better.
In this article we will see how to open up more to other people , so that we can overcome the shyness or excessive zeal for privacy that often prevents us from making contact with others. We’ll also look at some of the reasons why we might have trouble socializing.
Why do I have trouble opening up to other people?
To see how to open up more to other people, one must understand that this psychological limitation in relating to others may be due to a variety of personal or social factors.
For example, there are subjects that are introverted in nature who find it much harder than others to initiate friendships or have spontaneous social contact , given that they feel less interest in intellectual stimuli outside their body. These introverted people are radically different from those who are able to interact with any stranger at the public transport stop, or while waiting their turn to pay in the supermarket queue.
The ideal is to have an adequate balance between introversion and extroversion, conflicts to relate to other people often occur when the subject is at one of the extremes of these two sides.
For example, a subject who is too introverted will have problems relating because he is not comfortable during social protocols, while those who are too outgoing will have conflicts to socialize because of their exacerbated behavior in search of external stimuli.
Some parenting styles may also negatively influence the way you open up to others . Those subjects who were raised in a too protective style may present difficulties in terms of self-confidence and self-esteem, which makes interpersonal relationships difficult.
On the other hand, those who were raised in a completely permissive environment will present social difficulties based on ignorance of limits; they are subjects who generally believe that everything is allowed and do not easily understand when to give up or decrease the intensity of contact.
How to be more open socially?
In the next few lines we will examine a list of practical tips for you to improve your openness to social relationships.
1. Accepting the difficulty of contact
The first step should always be to accept that we have a difficulty in social relations . Regardless of the causes, it is important that we do not avoid this fact and that we are ready to recognize where we can improve.
There are unconscious defense mechanisms that make it difficult for us to recognize our own limitations, and make us look the other way. For example, when we shift the blame onto other people or circumstances we are moving away from the real issue.
2. Decrease social anxiety
The irrational fear of relating to others is motivated by social anxiety, which arises when the subject takes for granted that all contact between him and other people will end badly in some way. That is, the person anticipates his social failure and this predisposes him to make mistakes .
To diminish this pattern of thinking it is necessary to do an exercise in logic where we answer key questions to ourselves. Why am I afraid of contact with others? Does it make sense that I am afraid of contact with strangers? Why do I think things will always go wrong?
By answering these questions you will realize that in most cases there is really nothing serious to fear about social relationships, and you will start to leave behind the limiting thoughts that generate the feeling of social anxiety.
3. Creating bonds of trust
Trust is fundamental for a friendship to transcend. That is why we must try to make people feel confident with us. We will not achieve this in a forced or hurried way ; the ideal is to let the relationship acquire these tints little by little.
Some methods for building trust with others can be; telling them some personal anecdotes about us, exposing one’s own vulnerabilities, and asking for the opinion of others on a topic meaningful to them.
4. Improve your self-esteem
To achieve quality relationships and have the strength to open up to other people, it is necessary to work in our garden (ourselves) first. We must be able to see the value we have as people and understand that we are on an equal footing with others when we interact.
A good way to achieve this is to do an exercise in personal affirmation; we place ourselves in front of a mirror and tell the person in front of us several reasons why he or she should be valued. For example, “you are noble because you like to help other people”, etc.
5. Avoiding Prejudice
Prejudices are styles of generalized thinking in which there is an all-or-nothing situation , of categorical thinking, when it comes to valuing others . This kind of experience only sinks us more into anxiety and despair of relating properly to others, because it leads us to feel that we do not fit in.
It is important to keep in mind that not all people are the same, even though we all have different tastes in certain respects.
6. Do not change your essence
To please, many people come to the point of abandoning their principles or their tastes only to be accepted in groups. However, this is counterproductive, because it doesn’t make sense to lose oneself in the process of pleasing others .
Remember that principles are not negotiable, you should always be yourself and show others that you are capable of respecting their opinions even if you do not agree with them, as long as they do the same with you.
- Vanman, E.J., Paul, B. Y., Ito, T.A. and Miller, N. (1997). The Modem Face of Prejudice and Structural Features That Moderate the Effect of Cooperation on Affect. Journal of Personal and Social Psychology, 73(5), pp. 994 – 959.