It’s a common tale – it’s a Friday night and you have been invited to a party by a friend. That friend is a social butterfly and knows what feels like an army of people, all of whom are loud, outrageous and unfamiliar to you. You attempt to build up the nerve to start a conversation but find yourself glued to the spot. You may be the person that bites the shiny social bullet and mingle. But you are most likely to be the other – you take one last sip of your drink, concoct the perfect excuse (essays are due – in reality, Game of Thrones is waiting on catch-up TV) and leave relieved knowing you haven’t had to suffer the discomfort of an awkward
It’s amazing how many young people share the same anxieties. Social pressures are hard and not wanting to connect with a crowd you don’t fit in to certainly doesn’t define you as quite the introvert it once did. Due to the fidelity of modern technology, we find ourselves frequently taken away from new experiences and relying on the safety of digital solitude: if someone talks to us and we don’t wish to engage all we need do is look at our phones and just like that the social cue cuts the conversation.
But isn’t it bizarre how we are surrounded by more forms of communication then there has ever been and yet we struggle to willingly communicate face-to-face?
This fear factor with social interaction has shown to produce worrying outcomes. Studies have even shown that British 18-25-year-olds are more likely to feel lonely than those aged over 55. It seems that we, the younger generation, albeit more content with solitude are not necessarily happier to be alone.
Once student life ends friendships no longer become solidified through moments in time.
Where education provides the backbone for milestones in life once this moment is over it is
unsurprising that younger people lose the ability to make strong social connections. So, if full-time employment is the new foundation for social interaction isn’t it vital that young people
are assimilated into this by developing their communication skills? By encouraging young
working people to boost their social abilities in a team atmosphere they learn to interact with
people of all seniority levels. Through steadily guiding them into unchartered communicative
roles like leading meetings with high-level stakeholders a young colleague’s social anxieties
should diminish and confidence flourish.
So just think if you resonate with the story at the beginning how more social responsibility at
work can benefit you – if you can organise a client lunch talking to a rabble of boisterous
strangers at a party will be a breeze. In fact, you may discover you are better at conversing with people than you thought.
Additional skills may also be useful to help make up for what was lost after university or school. Short courses after your studies are a fantastic way to enhance your skillset and to also improve your sociability. Rather than jumping straight into strongly client-facing roles taking the bridge between the two routes allows for confidence to thrive over time. It also ensures you get the vital qualifications that will enable you to apply for those impressive corporate roles that demand high social energy. Our Jumpstart programme is certainly a good place to start.
So, while you may not be the most extroverted soul in the room or the most willing to communicate taking a step towards social dominance may be just the move needed to find your voice in this solitary modern world.
Article written by Lauren Benali , Graphics by Nerissa Afonso, Issy Howell and Meliha Siddiqui