5 Signs You Were Raised by Parents With Bad Social Skills

Do you have bad social skills? Chances are you inherited your habits from your parents. I'm speaking from personal experience here, as my mom and dad will tell you they aren't the most socially gifted in the bunch. I have struggled for years to overcome some bad habits combined with my own special kind of introversion. (See also: 18 Things People With Good Social Skills Never Do)

The good news? In most cases, your social skills aren't set in stone. So take a look at this list of behaviors suggesting you may have been raised by parents with bad social skills, and if you're guilty, start reprogramming your brain today!

1. You Make Excuses to Get Out of Seeing People

My parents didn't go out much with friends while I was growing up. When they did make plans, they'd often cancel at the last minute, and — for years — I'd do this exact same thing. There's a not-so technical term for this practice, and it's called flakiness. Don't blame yourself too much, though — modern technology makes it extremely easy for us to flake out on social situations. Sometimes, you have good reason and sometimes, not.

That doesn't mean your relationships won't become damaged over time. So, before you cancel on your next engagement, consider a few key factors, including how important your presence is at the particular event, whether or not the organizer will understand, and if your excuse is truly legitimate. If you observe a pattern and/or cancel frequently, it could be a sign of something deeper, like anxiety, depression, or modeled behaviors from the past.

2. You Talk, But Don't Listen

Whether out of nervousness or something else, you might chat someone's ear off and not return the favor. Or you might not talk much and avoid chatting altogether. Active listening is a critical part of interpersonal communication, and it's ever-so-important during those pesky social situations. When I'm thrust into a social arena with a bunch of people I don't know, I'm uncomfortable. Over time, I've learned a few tricks that have become second nature.

To become a more active listener, be sure to display both verbal and nonverbal cues. You can smile and keep steady eye contact to show you're entertained or otherwise paying attention. Your posture actually shows quite a lot about how engagement level, so keep your body open and tuned in versus closed off. You may even mirror facial expressions to show connection with emotion. And lastly, avoid distractions (cell phones, fidgeting, doodling, etc.) whenever possible.

3. You Avoid Eye Contact

One of those important nonverbal cues is eye contact. Of course, many of us are just shy by nature — so it can be hard to stare directly into those windows to the soul without some major discomfort (especially around strangers).

You can work on this skill in the comfort of your living room by using your television. Turn on a show and try to make eye contact with the character or characters on the screen. When you're out and about, start slow by trying to look near the person you're speaking with. If long periods of eye contact feel uncomfortable, try shorter periods interspersed with breaks.

4. You Skip Introductions

People skills are certainly put to the test whenever introductions are involved. I am notoriously bad at making introductions because I have difficulty remembering the names of my acquaintances. I also feel uncomfortable meeting scores of new people at parties. My parents would often retreat to their own area in social situations and I, too, often find myself in a corner surrounded by a couple of close friends. And that's okay sometimes. But, still, you could be missing out by not meeting and greeting.

There is some traditional etiquette for making introductions, but the key thing to remember is this: Something is better than nothing. Making sure everyone feels included is the real goal here, and it can aid in your own comfort level, too.

5. You Lose Your Cool

If you routinely blow up or show extreme emotions in social settings, you might be alienating others and hurting yourself in the process. Maybe you grew up seeing your dad get irate if his football team lost or your mom drink a few too many glasses of wine before chatting with guests. In short, you don't ever want to be that person asked to leave the party.

Most heated situations arise from controversial topics or other triggers. Removing yourself from those conversations can take some willpower, but might ultimately save you from a blowup. Don't confuse passion with rage, however. Your beliefs and feelings are valid, however strong they may be, so long as you can communicate them effectively. And if you routinely require lots of social lubrication, you may want to speak with your doctor to see if Social Anxiety Disorder is at play, in which case therapy and/or medication can help.

How are your social skills? Did your parents provide you with a good example — or a bad one?

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5 Signs You Were Raised by Parents With Bad Social Skills

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