I’m Not Comfortable in Groups, So I Have Become Isolated at School

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a second-year female high school student. During my first year of elementary school and first year of junior high, I had friends and was able to lead a full life, but once I started the second year, I became isolated in my classes. I haven’t been bullied, but I naturally wind up alone.

Initially, I can converse with others by asking various questions. However, as I don’t have a sense of humor or communication skills, I think that they stop finding it fun to be with me.

As time goes on, I can only talk to certain people. In my third year of junior high school, I thankfully made friends, but I had a hard time conversing with the opposite sex and most people of the same sex. It was also difficult for me that some people talked about me behind my back.

In any case, I’m not comfortable in groups and can’t converse in a group of three or more people. My mother has told me since I was young that communication skills will be important in the future, so I’m sad as I can’t forgive myself for severely lacking such skills. I’m worried whether I can survive in society. Please tell me how I should view things.

— E, Osaka Prefecture

Dear Ms. E:

You have analyzed yourself very well. I can sense your thoughtfulness in your letter.

But what concerns me is that you’ve been bound excessively by the idea that communication skills are important. A person who gets along with everyone and has many friends does not necessarily have a high level of communication skills. People who care only about the number of friends they have are unlikely to have true friends.

In my opinion, communication skills refer to the ability to listen to others and express your opinions properly. I think you were able to make friends in your third year of junior high school because you have those abilities. Getting along with one friend, as well as living in harmony with one’s family, also requires communication skills. On the other hand, people who talk too much about themselves are poor communicators. I think good communicators are good listeners.

You are a person who can think deeply, so why don’t you focus on being a good listener? It would be great if you could stimulate conversations by increasing your ability to attentively listen to others.

And don’t forget about smiling as it brings people together.

— H Akemi Masuda, sports commentator