Break Out of Your Shell! 5 Ways to Be More Outgoing

Research shows that outgoing people tend to be happier. Try these simple tips for breaking out of your shell, or honing your social skills.
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Laughing friends

When was the last time you gabbed away at a party or asked an acquaintance to lunch? If it’s been a while, it may be time to start putting more effort into happy hour. A June 2013 study published in the Journal of Research in Personality found that being extroverted in your youth can make you happier as you age. UK researchers asked more than 2,500 people personality questions when they were 16 and 26, then assessed their wellbeing and life satisfaction more than three decades later when they were 60-somethings. The results showed that those who were outgoing during their teens and 20s were happier with where their lives had taken them over the ensuing 40 or 50 years.

While much of personality may be hard-wired, there’s always some nudge room in how you act around others. “Personality is partly genetically determined and it tends to be pretty stable from early adulthood onwards, but some research shows that people who are satisfied with their relationships and their work tend to become a bit more extraverted with time,” says study author Catharine Gale, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at South Hampton General Hospital in England. Here are some ways to build better friendships and invest in a happier future.

1. Nail a First Impression

A quick body language trick you can use when approaching someone you are about to meet for the first time is to briefly flash your eyebrows upward when you’re about 15 feet away. “It helps you feel more open and receptive and tells the other person that you’re friendly,” says Patti Wood, author of Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma. This quick facial move is especially helpful for introverts who tend to freeze in place. (Practice your open-and-friendly look in the mirror first so you don’t slip into deer-in-the-headlights territory). Next, when you’re within about six feet, extend your arm firmly with your palm open to shake hands. “Hesitation about offering a hand can make it awkward,” says Wood. Sticking it right out there for a good, firm shake preempts the stress response and helps eliminate some of the anxiety.

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2. Make a Friend

One thing true extroverts are great at is taking the initiative to talk to people and make new friends. If that doesn’t come naturally to you, set a goal to engage one person every week. “A new friend will give you the opportunity to learn more about yourself and grow,” Wood says. Maybe she’ll introduce you to a great book, or more: “Countless studies have shown that friendships and social support have a beneficial impact on health. They make good times better and tough times easier to manage,” says Christie Hartman, Ph.D., a Denver-based behavioral scientist. “We’re all social animals—even introverts.” Go in with a game plan: Open with meet-and-greet questions like “where are you from?” and “what do you do?” They may seem lame, but they actually serve an important purpose. “You’re searching for a commonality,” Wood says. It’s how you establish whether the person is like you. Things as simple as finding out where someone grew up and mentioning that your brother now lives there can create an instantaneous bond of shared experience. Bring up sports, movies, music or the latest Housewives drama. Even talking about the weather can work. If there’s something that perks the other person up, dig deeper. Try to get him or her talking for more than a minute. “It used to be much more natural for people to share stories, but we now have much shorter interactions that are more like e-mails or texts,” Wood says. “We need to put in the time for deeper and longer conversations.”

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3 thoughts on “Break Out of Your Shell! 5 Ways to Be More Outgoing

  1. Who is not fond of looking prettier especially on parities? The answer is very simple and always in positive equally from men and women side however women are looked more passionate about this. Your 5 ways are outstanding for this purpose.

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