The holidays will soon be here, which means there will be an abundance of parties and other social events to attend. From family to friends to coworkers, there is no shortage of people you will be able to socialize with. For many, this time of year is great. They love getting out and meeting new people or hanging out with coworkers in a more relaxed atmosphere.
“I just want to create, and socializing is part of the experience.” – Waris Ahluwalia
For others, the thought of being in a large crowd can be overwhelming. Whether you are an introvert or socially awkward, having to socialize may cause you a lot of stress and grief. If you find that you are dreading these events because of your social skills, read on to get some tips and advice on how to be better at socializing.
Get to the Party on Time
There’s a rule that says you can show up to a gathering fashionably late, but there’s nothing wrong with being on time, either. This will give you a chance to start talking to people before groups form. Once that happens, it can be hard to insert yourself into a conversation. Getting there on time will give you a chance to greet everyone who shows up after you and engage them in conversation.
Engage in Small Talk
We get it—we do—small talk can be boring and hard to get through. There’s only so much you can say about the weather or your job (without getting too personal), but small talk serves a purpose. It allows people who don’t know each other the ability to warm up to one another. While you may be interested in knowing about the person’s passions and what makes them the happiest, you can’t lead with those topics.
A lot of people don’t want to share these intimate details about their lives with someone they just met. You have to get through the boring details before you can get to the interesting information. You may even have to start the conversation. A lot of people will wait for the other person to begin talking.
If you don’t start talking, this could lead to the two of you standing awkwardly and silently next to one another. As much as you might hate it, don’t be afraid to comment on the weather to get the conversation rolling.
Listen to What the Other Person Has to Say
When engaging another person in conversation, really listen to what they have to say. Once you have gotten past the small talk and into interesting information about the other person, you will probably find that they enjoy talking about themselves. Take an interest in what they are saying.
Most people are focused on what they are going to say when the other person stops talking, so they don’t hear what had been said. It’s also a good idea not to interrupt them as they speak. Not only is this rude, but it lets them know that what they have to say isn’t important.
Try Not to Hug the Walls or Look at Your Phone
Being in a room of people you don’t know can be uncomfortable. It may be tempting to find a dark corner or wall to stand against. However, this is not the best way to socialize. You need to be where the action is, so get out and move around the room. Talk to as many people as you can for as long as you can.
In addition to not hugging the walls, it’s also a good idea to stay off your phone. Unless you need to answer a text or call from the babysitter, keep your phone in your pocket or your purse. Nothing says you are less engaged with a person or event than being on your phone the entire time.
This may seem like an odd thing to consider when it comes to socializing at a party, but it will play a massive role in how you feel and your self-confidence. If you are always worried about how you look, you won’t be able to focus on other people. Should your shoes be uncomfortable and hard to walk in, you may decide to sit in a chair so that your feet won’t hurt. If you can’t move around the room to engage people, you won’t have the chance to be social.
Wear clothes that are appropriate for the formality of the event, but also take comfort into consideration. The more confident and comfortable you feel in your wardrobe choice, the more likely you are to engage others in conversation.
Watch Your Body Language
Nonverbal cues, such as what you do with your body, can indicate to other people how you feel about conversing with them. Folding your arms across your chest is a way to close yourself off, letting the other person know you need a barrier between the two of you. Scanning the room while they are talking is another indicator that you aren’t fully engaged with or enjoying the conversation.
If you want to be social and involved with the conversation, be aware of the nonverbal signals you are sending. To keep from folding your arms across your chest, consider putting your hands in your pockets, folding them behind your back, or keeping them busy by holding a drink. You’ll also want to make sure you make eye contact so that the other person knows you are interested in them and what they have to say—make sure to blink every once in a while.
When talking to another person, don’t make assumptions about them, their life, or what they are going to say. This can make the conversation incredibly awkward and uncomfortable. Starting at the greeting and going until the conversation ends, keep an open mind. If you are unsure about anything the person says, ask. This will reduce the chances of misunderstandings and false judgments from occurring.
Being social shouldn’t be a challenge, but it can be daunting. Above all else, finding a way to enjoy yourself, the party, and others will make the situation less stressful and allow you to have a lot of fun.