Young Americans lack key social skills, avoid the phone, and fear small talk

September 27, 2023

Young Americans are losing the art of conversation, as nearly two out of three admit they are lacking in social skills, reports SWNS.

Based on the findings of a new study of 2,000 Millennials conducted by One Poll and commissioned by Don Pablo Coffee, from avoiding the phone at work to a fear of making small talk on the street, 65% don’t feel confident when it comes to face-to-face social situations.

In fact, two in five millennials believe that their lack of social skill has held them back in their work, while a similar number (39%) think it has caused problems for them within friendships.

That isn’t helped by the fact that 68% admit they actively avoid talking face-to-face if they can—with talking to people they don’t know in public and work colleagues the most dodged interactions.

It follows then that a resounding 80% of Millennials feel they are often more vocal or able to express themselves in text or online than they are in person.

Only 7% say that they most commonly keep in touch with friends by talking on the phone, and 9% mainly stay in touch in person. The vast majority claim their main form of contact with friends is on social media or via text.

Forty percent of Millennials confess that they often find themselves awkward or uncomfortable if having to make small talk.In fact, the average respondent says that he or she has had four awkward social experiences in the last three months.

The survey also shows that young Americans cancel or don’t attend about 30% of the events they’re invited to attend out of fear it’ll be awkward socially.

“The age of social media is supposed to have made us more connected with each other—and while that is partly true, it also has helped lead to a generation of people less comfortable with face-to-face interactions,” says Darron ‘Don Pablo’ Burke, grower and roaster of Don Pablo Coffee.

“The data even show that plenty of young people are so uncomfortable with these interactions that they will back out of plans or go out of their way to avoid others.”

“But it isn’t too late,” Burke adds. “Hopefully some will use this as a wake-up call to get out there and participate in the real world. You may find that meeting with a friend or co-worker for a cup of coffee may not be as awkward as you first thought.”

The main reason cited for lacking certain social skills and face to face talking was simply preferring to text and chat online, followed by a lack of practice. Fully 62% percent feel a sense of dread while speaking on the phone to clients and customers at work.

In an attempt to get over their dread of socializing and improving their skills, 42% of the survey respondents have even practiced their social skills alone in front of a mirror.

The survey finds that four in ten believe the art of conversation is dead, with most people blaming a reliance on technology and social media. Three-quarters say that the fact that they no longer have to engage in face-to-face or over-the-phone conversations because of smartphones and social media has led to the decline of their social skills.

“While it’s clear that social media has placed many hurdles in the way, the survey also proves that many would love to improve on their social skills,” says Burke.

“Get your social life off the screen and out in the open and you might find improvements not only in that regard, but also in other areas of your life. Start small by enjoying a conversation over a cup of coffee.”

Research contact: @SWNS