Ladies socialising together


Being social and finding social confidence again

03 December 2021

After months of being told to stay apart, to keep a distance, and to remain at home, the world is slowly opening back up again. While this is what we have wanted for so long, and what we wished would hurry up and happen sooner, now that the time has arrived, many of us can feel a little like a rabbit in headlights. Have we forgotten what it’s like to socialise with others, to relax and enjoy company again as opposed to worrying and fretting about being in groups once more? 

With more and more places opening up again following the lockdown precautions, many people will be breathing a sigh of relief as they are now able to travel further, meet friends, reconnect with family and colleagues and enjoy outlets opening for business. For many of us however, this return to “normal” may evoke feelings of concern, anxiety, worry, stress and uncertainty.

In order to gauge how individuals were feeling during the lockdown process, the Wrkit and Allianz Partner’s Global Working From Home (WFH) Survey gathered feedback from members WFH all across the globe. The results of this survey provided valuable insights into how people were coping during this time, allowing us to prepare for the next stage of this pandemic: reopening.

A significant result of the survey was that while WFH, people were indeed making an effort to stay connected with friends and family; highlighting how we are inherently social beings even when we were being forced to stay apart. We found creative ways, and with the help of modern technology, we stayed social throughout the pandemic.

So while we may have some personal fears relating to being social again, which is a completely normal reaction to emerging out of the pandemic, it is important to keep in mind how natural we are at wanting to be social, and there are many techniques that can help us find our feet socially again in this busy interactive world. 

All of us have reacted to the COVID-19 pandemic in various ways, and each of us went through different levels of loss, as one by one, common everyday things that we took for granted were temporarily taken from us. As part of this loss process. we inevitably felt worried and afraid, at times for ourselves, for our loved ones, and for our colleagues. Now that the COVID-19 restrictions are lifting, it is no surprise that at times we may again feel some reactionary fear, worry and concern associated with the pandemic and self-care. We can have worries in terms of our safety - being around many others again, being on public transport again and even being in large spaces with strangers again.

This is an expected initial stage reaction and it is important to remember that we have never experienced a global scenario like this before. However, just as we made it through the strictest of the pandemic restrictions, so too will we make it through this next reopening stage. Over time, as we adapt to all situations, our fears and worries begin to dissipate and, as they did during the lockdowns, our strong human adaption skills naturally kick in. 

Sometimes, however, we can feel stuck in parts of the change process by starting to ruminate in negative ways about what has happened, what is happening, and what we imagine will happen in the future. When we do this, we move into ‘anticipatory fear’ as we worry about the future, and start to overthink what we don’t yet know and can never know about the future.

We can worry about what it might be like back in the office environment, on the bus, in the cafe, and whether we will have the confidence to be ok and interact in this way again. Although some musing and wondering about the future is natural, if we find ourselves getting very anxious about what might come, we need to learn to help ourselves stop this type of future worrying mindset. Why? Well it does not help us and leads to unnecessary concern for future events that we cannot influence in the present.

During the pandemic, we have become accustomed to worrying about our safety and what might go wrong, and unfortunately this has exasperated this way of thinking. Now however is the time to shift this negative thinking and move towards thinking about the positive outcomes of reopening, as reopening itself is a great example of the pandemic beginning to dissipate. Keep in mind that reopening is a real sign of success.

As demonstrated in the Global WFH Survey, many participants stayed connected to important support networks during difficult times and these networks are still there, and although it may take some time to get back to life pre-COVID, we are on the right track. 

If you find yourself feeling nervous about socialising and worrying about social awkwardness, this is to be sometimes expected. We have endured many challenges, with multiple restrictions and various lockdowns during which we were advised to stay away from others and isolate, so it is only natural that we need to brush up on our social skills. An important point to remember here is that none of us is alone with these worries and we will provide some helpful advice on how to handle being social again.

If you are unsure whether you have developed social awkwardness simply because it has been so long since you have been around other people, assess whether the following signs apply to you. More likely than not, a number of these signs will indeed apply at times, but do remember they will also more than likely apply to those around you too. If you notice these signs, be patient with yourself and others. Focus on one sign at a time and how you might be able to overcome them.

  • Being unable to understand subtle aspects of social situations or how to behave
  • Feeling oversensitive
  • Feeling somewhat left out
  • Oversharing during a conversation
  • Misinterpreting the intentions of others – for example, thinking someone dislikes you by reading too much into a small comment they made
  • Feeling more self-conscious than usual
  • Making excuses to avoid social activities
  • Choosing solitary activities over social activities – for example, choosing to watch a movie alone rather than meeting up with a friend 
Whether you were a social butterfly pre-COVID or you already found social events quite awkward, there are techniques that you can use in your everyday social interactions that can help you to overcome social awkwardness and feel more at ease with yourself.
You do not have to be the funniest person in the room or have the most interesting conversation topics. Quite often, you might find yourself zoning out when others are talking as you prepare for your response. Listening intently and expressing genuine interest in what the other person is saying, will both reduce the pressure that you put on yourself to ‘have to’ say something’ and will reassure the other person that you value what they have to say. Maintaining eye contact and nodding throughout the conversation are two good techniques to stay present. It’s not a competition, so slow down and enjoy the moment to moment. 
Regardless of whether you are wearing a mask during your social interaction, make sure to smile every now and again. It is estimated that up to 80% of our communication is nonverbal, so looking interested and engaged is a great way to show connection and empathy. This is just as important for your own confidence as it is for those around you, as smiling during a conversation will make you feel better about yourself and you will undoubtedly come across as more open, approachable and engaging.  
If you find you are struggling to contribute to the conversation, ask questions that will encourage the other person to continue talking. It is easy to be curious and often good questioning can lead to a whole variety of interesting conversation tangents. People like to share their experiences and do value the interest of others. Paying attention to what they are saying will help you at times, be able to contribute to the next line of conversation and often can invite mutual sharing of similar stories, helping you lead the conversation path now and again. 
Begin your new social journey by socialising with those you are close with and enjoy being around – in doing this, you will build your confidence and this will make it easier to transition into wider social groups. If you have a social activity planned, it might be useful to ring a family member or old friend beforehand to get you in the social flow and mood. Not only will this distract you from overthinking about the situation, it will also ease your nerves and you may start to think of more conversation topics or interesting things to share. If you are unable to talk to someone close beforehand, practice talking and smiling in the mirror – which might help you to laugh a little about what is worrying you and to feel more relaxed. Get comfortable with yourself and the situation and keep in mind that being social can be fun. Put it in perspective by reminding yourself that it is only for a limited amount of time engaging in this way, so why not make the most of it.

If there are a few awkward silences or a joke that goes amiss, remind yourself that you’re not the first person in the world this has happened to. Do not let these little moments consume your thoughts;  instead, focus on three good things that you either did or hope to do during a social interaction. Did you compliment the other person? Did you laugh at their joke? Did you smile during the conversation? Did you ask an interesting question? Remind yourself of the many mutual positives effects and benefits of being social and boost your confidence for the next time.


Remember that all of us have gone through some very similar feelings of social awkwardness at times, and if anything, most of us are feeling the same about the social reopening process having been in a lockdown for so long. While social awkwardness may seem like it is impossible to overcome, by getting yourself out there and practicing the above techniques, your confidence will soon return. It is the next step and it is one that you have more control over than you previously thought.

For more information visit the Allianz Partner’s Global Working From Home Survey