Finding It Hard to Make Friends in Vancouver? Here’s How to Up Your Social Skills

This social skills company says "small talk is a big deal" and they're here to teach people how to do it.

Let’s be honest, socializing (especially with strangers) can be scary—and it often feels easier to give up, binge a show on Crave (boo Netflix and its new no-sharing accounts policy), and continue on a journey of becoming a full-time hermit. But after the struggles we all faced throughout the pandemic—along with the dreariness of Vancouver’s never-ending rain—human interaction is more important than ever.

That need is a big part of why Devon Ash founded Social Fluency, a company that teaches people the fundamental skills needed to make meaningful connections, in real life. “Make changes slowly,” says Ash. It can be small, thoughtful actions that are the most effective in getting you out of your comfort zone. When it all comes down to it, Ash says that “Vancouver isn’t its own entity that lives outside of us. We are it.” And that means we have the power to break the social barricades we’ve been surrounding ourselves with.

Ash has been in the field of social development for upwards of 15 years. What started as a dating-focused company—mostly working with single men—has expanded to help a broad range of people in Vancouver and beyond. He and his counterpart, Nina Perez, aim to help people develop valuable social skills that will encourage change in their lives. The company offers a five-month program that consists of one-on-one meetings, workshops, weekly chats with social skills coaches and check-ins with Ash and Perez. To give you a better idea of what it’s all about, the website has a free eight-part video training program. Whether you’re wanting to make more friends, get help with an existing relationship, or simply become better at connecting with people, Social Fluency has you covered.

One of the first things Ash gets his students to do is take a cold shower every morning. The idea is to start gradually—stay in the water for 30 seconds or so—and then eventually increase the length over time. The cold water is meant to help push you out of your comfort zone and create patterns of change.

Because creating patterns applies to social interactions, too. “Say hello to the very first person that [you] see in the morning,” says Ash. It may be daunting or uncomfortable in the moment but feels good afterwards (kind of like hiking—type two fun, I suppose). “It’s building a muscle. You’re building the social muscle,” says Ash.

Ash himself is no stranger to the experience of feeling alone and detached from others. He had to come to terms with a devastating skin cancer diagnosis, at 23. It left him with a scar on his face and a lack of self-esteem. He lost his ability to connect with people. “I became a recluse,” says Ash, and it took him over a year to rebuild his confidence.

He began to notice that there were lots of people around him who were successful in their professional and social lives and it didn’t have anything to do with their physical appearance. He did research around how people connect, reading books about evolutionary psychology and cognitive behavioural therapy. The very first ideas he read about remain the foundation of the work he does now, where “understanding body language, understanding status dynamics, understanding how to create great conversations that include humour and boundaries and flirting” are all essential parts.

The idea isn’t to be a different person in a day but to commit yourself to creating patterns and developing skills that will help you improve, long-term. “We are naturally social beings. We want to connect with each other,” says Ash.

So why not get comfortable being a bit uncomfortable? Learn more at