I’m Not a People Person.

how to be a people person

“I’m not a good people person.” 

I don’t know why I say that, or when I picked it up. But it’s something I’ve always accepted about myself as true. I have brown hair, I have blue eyes, I’m terrible with people.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the things we tell ourselves about ourselves. Those little labels we stick on our foreheads and carry for decades at a time. I’m not a people person. I’m forgetful. I’m terrible at mornings. I’m a klutz. I’m socially awkward.

Do those labels describe us, or do we just live up to them?

I’m aware that this post sounds a bit like therapy. But hey, it’s my blog and I’ll use it as an emotional sounding board if I want to.

Last night, I went to a conference. Afterwards there was a social hour and I dipped out early. I told myself the other people there were WAY cooler and more successful than me, and I’d only say something awkward or boring. Because – ya know – I’m not a people person. 

I let myself miss out on an opportunity to meet people and learn some new stuff because I told myself I couldn’t do it.

How stupid is that?

I’m a grown-ass 40-something woman and I intimidated myself out of talking to a bunch of people I probably have a lot in common with.

I gave myself a good talking to today (not in public – that would definitely not help me be more of a people person).

Because if I’m really honest with myself, I’m not terrible with people. I just tell people I am. Which – if you think about it – is a truly self-sabotaging way to start any conversation.

“Hey, nice to meet you, I’m pre-disposed to dislike you.” 

I have friends. They seem to like me. I can make small talk at parties, or in the queue for the bus.

I run a business that’s based almost entirely on communication with other people, and for the most part, we’re quite successful. I can do public speaking, and I’m a fan of a long, gossipy phone call with friends. I am the sort of person who will send a card or a gift if I know someone is having a tough time.

I don’t glance at my phone in the middle of a conversation with someone. Side note: is it just me that wants to take an axe to someone’s head when they do this to you repeatedly?

What I’ve realised is that I’m not bad with people. I’m just not an extrovert.

That means I have to give myself a little mental prod to go say hello to someone at a party. I put reminders in my calendar to catch up with friends. Because otherwise, I suspect I’d be quite content at home watching Netflix for 23 hours a day, with breaks to order food online once a day.

But when I need to, I have the skills to communicate with other people. I can smile, and ask questions, and remember their names.

I need to stop telling myself I’m “not a people person”. 

And I need to stop believing it.

Believing that I’m terrible with people stops me from having difficult conversations. “I’m bound to mess it up, so I’ll just wait and see if it gets better,” I’ll tell myself.

Ha! Spoiler alert: it doesn’t get better.

Anyone else feel a bit like this? 



14 thoughts on “I’m Not a People Person.”

  1. Oh gosh Sally, I can totally relate to this. Except for the bit where you realise you’re not a bad people person after all. I’m not sure I’ll ever reach that point. I hope you enjoyed the conference anyway. And if ever we end up at the same conference and you’re looking for someone more awkward than you to make you feel better, do come & say hi!

    1. Ah, I think there’s a difference between between bad with people and not being naturally extrovert is all. I CAN do it when I need to, I’m just not necessarily compelled to 🙂

  2. SandyShoesCornwall

    I’m surprised you thought this about yourself, I’ve loved reading your blog over the years and you never came over as someone I wouldn’t like to meet. I know PRs who have worked with you and everyone says how lovely you are, and believe me they don’t say that about everyone! In fact you have a really good reputation for being good to work with. I”m really glad you have changed your mind x

  3. So I bet you think I think I’m good with people. And yet last night I did exactly the same as you. I hung around for a bit, feeling like a spare part, wondering when all these other people became so sassy while I wasn’t looking, and left early. Do you know what, I don’t think many of us are good with people in our own minds. I think we’re all just winging it, and I think most of us go home thinking – Damn, I wish I’d said that to him at that moment, instead of saying that stupid thing that I said, he must think I’m such an idiot. Apart from those people who think they’re brilliant, and who are almost certainly despised by everyone.
    By the way, I think you’re good with people. You always seem so much funnier than me when we’re in the same room!

    1. I would have said you’re very good with people, I think that’s the difference that I’m spotting in myself – I CAN do it and I DO have the skills, I’m just not naturally driven to seek out company, maybe?

  4. Ah Sally I tell myself stuff a lot -that I’m not cool enough or that people will find me boring or old fashioned I reckon we all do this limiting label thing that so unhelpful but I love love your company you are funny and wise and kind and think of all those people who miss out on that if you don’t show up

  5. Yes, I definitely feel like this. And yet I SO want to be a people person! I went to an event last weekend and plucked up the courage to edge into a group already talking, say hello and then ask where everyone was from.. honestly, you could have heard a pin drop and I turned a lovely lobster colour. So I won’t try that again. You’ll find me cowering in the corner, watching from a distance, hoping someone else will be extra kind and say hello. Anyhow, you definitely are a people person, you do a great job of managing all sorts 😉

  6. I am a people person and yet, as I get older, I find myself looking for excuses not to go out to social events. I accept invitations and then look for ways out of them as the date approaches. Is it age? Am I changing? Who knows, but I still consider myself to be a people person.

  7. This could be me. I am always telling myself that i’m not a people person, but I know that this is rubbish and that I can be when I need to be. It’s just another excuse I use when something scares me. If I have been invited to an event, I will talk myself out of it. When I have to meet people to discuss work, I dread it. However, when I force myself to do it then I love it and really enjoy chatting away to other people. But then I also love it when I have the house to myself and I can binge on Netflix!

  8. I am a bit like this. I am friendly and warm to people, but unless it’s a work situation I become quite shy and quiet. At work, I can talk anyone through anything and hold talks and training courses, always fine with people I don’t know. Then when it comes to parties or with friends or friends of friends, I struggle a little. I’ve gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. I am less self-conscious about my appearance, but not about my personality. I think I’d be happy watching Netflix and reading too. You are not alone, I feel like this too and yes, we do need reminders and believe we are not. Hugs xx

  9. I’m glad it’s not me who’s found herself creeping off to the loos to hide for a few minutes! It takes me forever to warm up to a social situation. Years, literally. And I’m terrible at keeping in touch. It’s definitely not just you!

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