I don’t mean the party poopers who would rather stay at home watching TV re-runs. For some people meeting strangers and making small talk is not easy and they get anxious.
I’m not talking about full-blown social phobia here or even shyness but what you might call social anxiety.
So in the spirit of wanting to help you enjoy yourself here are a few suggestions.
- Remember it’s not all about you. People who are socially anxious think that they are being evaluated and this creates anxiety. So go with the intention of focussing on other people rather than yourself.
- Set yourself a goal of having a conversation with three other people. Then reward yourself!
- Make sure you are feeling OK about your appearance so you don’t have to worry about how your hair looks or whether your new shoes are comfortable enough to last the party.
- Look confident and assertive ie good posture (imagine a piece of string attaching your head to the ceiling pulling you upright) and maintain eye contact without getting into a staring contest.
- Don’t be a wallflower and return eye contact as a preamble to a conversation.
- Remember people generally like being asked about themselves, their jobs, their children.
- Plan how to introduce yourself , for example how you ended up at the event. Be prepared to self-disclose but don’t overdo it.
- If you don’t really know anyone admit it as there are probably other people in the same position. Say what you want to say and pause for breath and take turns. People don’t like silences and someone will almost always fill the gap – and then you have a conversation.
- Listen attentively. You’ll find that not everyone has good listening skills. The right mix of NVC and body language, especially nodding and smiling, works wonders.
- Learn to paraphrase ie listen and confirm what you have heard without parroting eg “it sounds like you really enjoy these events/your recent holiday/your job”.
- Try and relax. Use deep breaths, “squeeze and let go” type exercises in the bathroom, rather than alcohol. Alcohol disinhibits you but you don’t want to lose control.Remember the idea is to enjoy yourself and someone liked you enough to invite you!Originally posted October 2011