Some people are naturally better than others in working the social scene. There are those that just ooze charisma and charm and seem to be gifted in putting others at ease and letting the conversation flow naturally. There are the lucky few that draw people to them without any effort. But for most of us, we feel shy and awkward in social settings.
Put yourself at ease and remember these pointers:
- Smile! A smile is understood in any culture and any age as a sign of friendship. So go ahead! It will put the other person at ease. You will seem approachable and happy. It will let the other person know that you are safe to talk to.
- May eye contact. Good eye contact engages the other person to you. When you are introduced to someone, shake their hand in a firm grip and repeat their name. That will help you remember their name. Making eye contact shows you have confidence and shows you are interested in the other person.
- Put things in perspective. They are just people, just like you. The people around you have problems, issues and have to go to the bathroom just like you do. The outside packaging may vary, but on the inside, you probably have more in common with them that you realize.
- Start small. If being at ease in a big party is too much for you, start off with smaller gatherings and groups, like a small dinner party. It’s less intimidating to approach smaller groups than larger ones.
- Go with friends. Having a trusted friend next to you makes it less intimidating to walk into a room full of people. It’s the same idea behind why girls need to go to the bathroom in groups. There is safety in numbers! But remember that even if you walk in as a pair, it doesn’t mean you just stick together the whole time. The point in a social gathering is you make friends with other people.
- Ask the other person questions. Nothing gets a conversation going than asking the other person to talk about himself! It will seem that you are interested. Pay attention to what he is saying and keep asking questions based on his answers. The other person will likely feel you were a good conversationalist even though they did most of the talking. Start with neutral topics and nothing too controversial. If you are put on the spot and don’t know what to answer, throw back the question at them with “Well, what do you think?” or “What about you?”.
- Don’t use alcohol or other substances to remove your inhibitions. It may be tempting to drink to relax, but this is a bad idea. It’s smarter to nurse one drink the whole time and work the crowd. You may lose count and end up being known as the party drunk. This is the worst impression to make in any setting.
- Go to social settings with a shared interest. For example joining an art class automatically puts you in a setting with other people you already have a common interest in. You now have something to talk about and work it from there.
No matter what the setting, there’s no need to be shy around other people. Strangers are friends you just don’t know yet!