How can people with depression use body language to socialize effectively?

Dr. John Preston, PsyD
Psychology Specialist

You may be feeling so bad that you interact with others in ways that discourage bonding. Here are some ways to practice effective social skills:

  • Face the other person squarely. Make sure your hips and shoulders are an equal distance away from the person to whom you’re speaking. Avoid nervously picking at objects, touching your face or hair or playing with your hair while talking to others. If you’re seated, lean slightly toward the other person to indicate your interest, but not so far that you’re intruding into the person’s personal space.
  • Speak loudly enough so that you can be heard, but not so loudly that you overpower others’ voices. If you aren’t sure how effective your speaking voice is, ask a trusted friend to tell you how your voice comes across. Practice speaking from your diaphragm while standing with your feet squarely on the ground and your legs slightly apart (about the width of your hips). Your legs should be relaxed and your chest expanded, with your shoulders held slightly back. Vary your vocal tone. Try not to speak in a monotone; use a variety of tones and vary the tone of your voice depending on the mood of the conversation.
  • Relax your face when talking to others. If you tend to clench your jaw, practice relaxing it. Smile when greeting others. Practice keeping an open, natural, relaxed facial expression.
  • Make eye contact with others when speaking to them, but don’t stare. Although there’s no rule about how long to maintain eye contact, we recommend breaking the contact after about five to eight seconds. Then look away briefly and make eye contact again.
  • People like it when you’re interested in them, so stay interested in the person with whom you’re conversing. You can keep a conversation going by asking sincere questions about what the other person is saying. Self-disclosure can help people to relax and bond, so when appropriate, be sure to talk about yourself, too, with the two following caveats: Be sure not to turn every conversation around to your experience, and make sure you disclose only appropriate information and only at appropriate times.
Depression 101: A Practical Guide to Treatments, Self-Help Strategies, and Preventing Relapse

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Depression 101: A Practical Guide to Treatments, Self-Help Strategies, and Preventing Relapse

When you have depression, it can feel like there's no way out. To begin changing the way you feel, you'll need an arsenal of proven techniques for lifting your mood and preventing relapse. The...

Continue Learning about Living With Depression

Living With Depression

Living With Depression

Living with depression can feel like a challenge, but with the right tools, you can learn to successfully manage your condition. It's important to follow the recommendations of your primary healthcare provider, take any depression ...

medication as prescribed and utilize the social supports around you. It's also important to eat well, get enough sleep, exercise and keep track of your depression symptoms.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.