Is it Social Anxiety? Social Avoidance? Social Awkwardness? It doesn’t really matter how we define it; it matters what we do to alleviate it. This article describes social skills activities that will help make connections easier.
When we struggle with social skills, we may avoid social situation which in turn can affect how we build relationships. Fear of public speaking is also a prominent concern among adults who wrestle with social anxiety, and can negatively impact a career trajectory.
Social skills activities involve communication and interaction, therefore, a meeting or class is essentially a social activity. Engaging in social skills activities can help develop optimal functioning in people with anxiety, fear of public speaking, and similar issues.
The Best Social Skills Activities to Help Improve How Adults Relate to Others
These social activities can work for any gender, age (middle school and above), budget or schedule. In addition to adding to your social calendar, I recommend deciding – in advance – what specific mission you want to work on, such as giving someone space and not interrupting, trying to keep the chit chat light, and others about their interests.
1. Dining out
Almost everyone on the planet enjoys dining with friends, especially when trying new or interesting foods. As everyone needs to eat, this can be one of life’s greatest pleasures. Invite your friends – or people you want to get to know better – to lunch or dinner and make an effort to try new restaurants regularly to keep things fresh.
2. Adult ed classes
Learn something new while practicing making conversation and finding people with mutual interests. You’ve heard the saying, “two heads are better than one,” right? Since you need to study the same content as others in your class, why not combine this time with your friends (or soon-to-be-friends). Research shows us that we can retain more information when working with others, plus, you can inspire each other to study even when you would rather not. Classes offer an excellent way to turn strangers into friends.
3. Meeting up for coffee
This is an easier ask because the time and money commitment is less than having a full meal. Most people have half an hour and it can be great if you’re meeting up with someone new or trying to get to know someone better.
4. Board games
Consider hosting an inexpensive evening by inviting friends to a board game night while you practice your self-regulation skills. As a host, you now have a role, a job, and a reason to reach out, make plans and ask people questions. Playing game also gives you something to do so when small talk lags you can have the game to help you connect. If it takes off, try to rotate who hosts each month and ask each person to bring a snack or drink.
5. Movie nights
Another easy and inexpensive evening is to invite friends, neighbors and even your regular sports team members to come over and watch movies at home. Not only is it cheaper, but it allows you to talk, rewind and ask people questions. Practice being a social spy to find out what genres they like and why. Work on your chit chat skills to make conversation around the movie to build common ground. It’s easier to find common ground when you don’t have to talk the whole time and you have a purpose.
6. Pick-up sports, Group fitness classes
Almost every city or town has a local park where you can just show up and play. If you go at the same time each week, you may keep playing with the same people, which may help you build friendships. Consider signing up for a yoga or dance class near you. Even though you won’t be talking much during the class, there’s time to catch up before and after.
Help make the world a better place while also practicing making small talk, working as a team and hopefully making connections and friends. Better yet, consider creating a beach clean-up day or a charity walk/run – having a role gives us a legitimate reason to reach out to others.
8. Video games
Although playing videos isn’t considered ‘active’ nor ‘social,’ they can actually be an effective way to connect with others, especially if you live far apart.
9. Hiking and Walking groups
Meetups are a great way to meet new people with similar interests and activity levels. Join an event and be sure to practice making small talk. Walking is a low-impact activity where you can socialize and get exercise at the same time. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes.
10. Double dates
Opposites attract! Maybe you are in a relationship with someone who is more outgoing than you, or may also want to work on social skills. You can strengthen your relationship with your partner while initiating new friendships.
11. Book clubs
Even if reading is something you do regularly, joining a book club can help you not only read more but its also a great way to socialize with friends. Most book clubs include social time in addition to discussing the book.
12. Group tours
Traveling with a group can be safer, less expensive and more fun than traveling alone. It is also a great way to socialize with new friends while exploring somewhere new.
13. Dog parks, kids’ playgrounds
Connecting while talking about a mutual interest – kids and dogs – is an easy way to strike up a conversation.
We all need socialization!
Even if spending time with people drains you and you don’t feel like putting in the effort to attend an event, it’s important to find social skills activities that help recharge your energy and make you feel connected. For more suggestions on adult social skills development, check out our new product: Meet People with Confidence
Actionable, well-researched and accurate information to improve social lives:
[Kids aren’t the only ones who struggle socially; adults can battle with social skills too. Last week we talked about social activities for kids]
More Adult Social Skills Training Resources:
Rusty Social Skills Bundle – Everything you need to help students return to the classroom for the development of critical social skills.
How to Read the Room as an Adult – Managing perceptions and engaging successfully
Coaching Conversations Video Course – How to use the lessons in Why Will No One Play with Me? in everyday life using real people and real scenarios
From “Hi” to a Full Conversation – How to adapt conversation starters to initiate small talk.
Joining a group Infographic – Make joining a group less intimidating – and more fun!
Building a Conversation Infographic – Learn how to engage in reciprocal give-and-take
Steps for Joining a Group Video – Step by step details to comfortably and successfully join a group
How to SEL – HOW TO help children build social skills