Brindusa Vanta, MD, DHMHS
Medical editor

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Socializing involves interacting with other people in various social contexts, such as at home, school, work, parties, or get-togethers. It's a fundamental part of life, enhancing well-being and contributing to mental, emotional, and physical health throughout a person’s lifetime.

Health Benefits of Socializing With Others


Interacting with others provides us with many benefits, including:[1],[2],[3],[4]

  • Improved mental health
  • Reduced stress
  • Enhance overall life satisfaction
  • Sense of belonging and community
  • Reduced depression and anxiety
  • Improved cognitive functioning
  • Lower risk of age-related mental decline
  • Increased sense of happiness due to supporting healthy levels of oxytocin and other feel-good neurotransmitters
  • Improved immune functioning
  • Lower blood pressure

As Dr. Brindusa Vanta, MD, says, "Strong scientific evidence shows that being involved in quality, close relationships and feeling socially connected can reduce the risk of death and various diseases."

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Much networking is goal-directed. You want something in your life, and you go out and network to find that thing, be it a lover, a friend, a job, a service, or a product. There is more to life than goal-directed networking, however. It is also important to just be with people sometimes.

Socialization involves being with and a part of other people, enjoying their company, confiding in them or letting them confide in you, and working together towards shared goals. Going to church, joining a club or group, chatting online, calling a friend on the phone, or hanging out with friends are all means of socialization. These are the activities that banish loneliness and promote the sense of safety, belonging, and enjoyment that helps people to feel secure.

Other Benefits of Socializing

Being able to socialize well is one of the main reasons that having good social skills is important. If you have social skills, you will have an easier time socializing, and you will more easily enjoy the benefits of having healthy, caring relationships with others:

  • You feel a part of something larger than yourself (a church, a lodge, a club, a group).
  • You are supported in various ways when you need support.
  • You have people to spend time with and do things with. This wards off loneliness and provides entertainment and distraction from pain.
  • You feel wanted, included, and cared for.
  • You have a place to confide your secrets or to share ideas and feelings.

Time spent socializing can help build your confidence (or at least keep it from sinking lower), strengthen your sense that life has meaning and purpose, raise your spirits and confidence, and help protect you against the effects of stress.

As Dr. Brindusa Vanta, MD, says, "Socialization should be encouraged early in life. It nurtures language skills, teamwork, and confidence in children."

Core Social Skills for Effective Interactions

Whether you are shy or introverted or haven’t had many chances to build social skills, there are always ways to improve communication and active listening skills, which are fundamental for successful social interactions. 

Here are some important strategies for interacting with others and building relationships:

  • Conflict resolution
  • Empathy
  • Cooperation
  • Respect
  • Nonverbal communication (e.g., facial expressions and body language)
  • Active listening
  • Relationship management (e.g., building and maintaining relationships)
  • Clear communication

Research indicates how important clear and assertive communication is in building and maintaining relationships. Active listening, which involves focused attention and empathy, fosters understanding and connection between individuals.[5] Good communication involves both verbal and non-verbal cues, and being aware of your communication style can significantly enhance interpersonal effectiveness. Developing these skills is essential for expressing yourself clearly and creating an environment that fosters open, honest dialogue.

Building Confidence Through Social Competence

Social competence is characterized by the behavioral, cognitive, emotional, and social skills necessary to engage in meaningful interactions with other people. Social competence is essential in building confidence in social situations.

Research has shown that people with higher social competence tend to experience increased social well-being and self-esteem.[6] Core features of social competence include interpreting other people’s emotions, engaging in appropriate social behaviors, and navigating social cues. Developing or improving these strategies can positively affect a person’s self-perception and confidence in social situations.

Practical Guide to Starting and Maintaining Conversations

Initiating a Dialogue

It can sometimes be difficult to know how to start a conversation with someone. You may find yourself overthinking the situation because of social anxiety or self-doubt, or you may despise small talk. Here is a step-by-step approach to starting a conversation:

  • Prepare discussion topics in advance if you know you’ll be going to a party or event that makes you uncomfortable.
  • Introduce yourself, let the other person do the same, and then ask a simple question.
  • Practice deep breathing or meditation to calm yourself before entering a social situation.
  • Lead with positivity.

Unless you are very close with the person and know what they like to discuss, you’ll want to stay away from topics that may alienate them or cause them to disengage. Some topics or types of comments to avoid include:

  • Offensive language or jokes
  • Controversial topics
  • Political commentary
  • Gossip 
  • Complaints

Some ice-breakers you can try include:

  • The weather is really beautiful today!
  • Are you having a good time?
  • The food is delicious, isn’t it?
  • How do you know the host?
  • How is your day/evening going?

Maintaining Conversations

Once you feel more comfortable initiating conversations, you’ll want to utilize some strategies to keep the ball rolling. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Find common ground in small talk, such as a favorite band, food, movie, restaurant, or sports team.
  • Engage in active listening.
  • Use open-ended questions or comments like, “Tell me more about that.”
  • Use respectful compliments or praise throughout the conversation to encourage the person to keep talking.
  • Use an appropriate amount of eye contact.
  • Face the person you are speaking to.
  • Avoid getting distracted by your phone.
  • Ask for advice or recommendations.
  • Allow the other person an appropriate amount of time to speak and avoid cutting them off.

How to Increase Socialization

Because socialization really boils down to spending time with other people you care about or who are engaged in something you care about, there are numerous ways you can increase your socialization.

  • Initiate interactions with friends and family: Call friends or family members and talk or chat, or invite them to spend time with you. Have a party, exercise together, eat at a restaurant, or just hang out. If your schedule is too busy to allow for this thing, try adjusting your schedule to open up a little time.
  • Introduce yourself to people: Greet neighbors and other people you come into contact with frequently. Say hello when someone walks by and ask how they are doing.
  • Join groups: Participate in religious services, civic groups, service groups, hobby groups, exercise groups, gyms, and community groups. Take a class that interests you. Regular attendance is important; it takes a while before people sense that you're no longer a stranger.
  • Advertise yourself: Create a profile on a social media platform and find new friends online.

Private or shy people who struggle with loneliness issues often find it a challenge to increase their socialization because of intense feelings of anxiety or self-defeating beliefs. If that's you, check out our sections on changing behaviors and thoughts and methods for overcoming social anxiety, such as cognitive restructuring and relaxation.

Keep in mind that it is the quality of your relationships and not the number of them that determines what benefits you will receive from socializing. Deeper, caring relationships provide more benefits than shallower, temporary ones. For this reason, even if you are good at socializing, take steps to deepen your relationships. Do things for other people, and test to see whether they reciprocate. Risk letting a few special people know your intimate thoughts. Relationships have to be reciprocal to become real friendships. Give-and-take is essential.

Additional Resources

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