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As a kid no one ever taught me basic social skills such as saying "hi" to someone you know when you see them. And as an adult now, it is hard for me to meet new people and keep lasting relationships. Could someone give me advice or recommend a book to me as to how I should refine my inadequate social skills?

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closed as not constructive by Renan, Adam Wuerl Apr 13 '12 at 12:31

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This question is basically a request for opinions. It's not constructive for the Q&A format. –  Renan Apr 11 '12 at 1:35
    
This question is a little to broad for a Q&A format because it violates the principle that a question so broad that it could become an entire book, which this topic could, is too large for the site. I recommend decomposing the question into smaller bite size chunks. Perhaps techniques for engaging in small talk with strangers would be small enough. If you want help decomposing this topic perhaps folks would be willing to help out in the chat room, which is totally appropriate for more free-form discussion like that. –  Adam Wuerl Apr 13 '12 at 12:34
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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Definitely try to say simple things like hi and bye and bless you. You can even try it on total strangers. To not look too creepy, imagine that you already talked to this person before and he/she was nice to you, that'll take the weight off your shoulders. Try being genuinely interested in the other person. It will be hard at first at smalltalk, but use the basic questions and ask them about themselves. Ask them things like where they grew up, what school, what kind of work they do, their family and so on (depending on who you are talking to). Then you will see people opening up to you and you will be more open to them. It may take a while, though... Remember to smile, too.

You can also find a group of people with the same interest (comic books, sewing, programming, cooking, knitting, whatever) in your area and join, you will at least have something to talk about to start with.

You also may want to try to volunteer if you can, any kind of (social) work will do.

And also, sometimes it is better to be quiet rather than talk, so don't feel like you need to talk if you really don't want to, being quiet sometimes is totally acceptable too. Just smile!

You can do it.

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+1 remember to smile. It's tough but essential –  Raystafarian Apr 9 '12 at 12:01
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Basic secrets: Smile and Eye contact

How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

is a very good book on this subject.

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+1 for the book suggestion. If anyone else has other book suggestions, please add them. –  Atif Apr 9 '12 at 21:56
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This is a particularly rough problem. The techniques of social interaction are a lot like language. We absorb them unconsciously as young children and, as a result, have trouble defining and articulating them once we're adults. An adult who needs to learn social skills "as a second language" has distinct difficulties in interacting with people both personally and professionally, but without the resources or awareness that would be available if they were having to learn the actual language.

I deal with similar issues to yourself and have done a lot of looking for materials on the subject. Unfortunately, I haven't found much. Most of the advice available boils down to "try harder". One book I do highly recommend is "What Does Everybody Else Know That I Don't?" by Dr. Michele Novotni. While intended specifically for adults with ADHD, much of the material would be helpful to any adult trying to cope with non-fluent social skills.

If you have the resources for it, there are also professional social skills coaches, who observe your interactions with them and others and provide specific feedback. Even if you could only meet with them very occasionally, the evaluation would help identify and prioritize the specific skills that you most want to improve.

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