Iím painfully shy, and just donít do well socializing with new people. As a result, new people often think Iím snobbish or unfriendly. Now, my job, a job I love and want to keep, and one which allows me to work mostly alone, requires me to attend a yearly weekend seminar, which included meetings and lectures, but also a lot of fun, social time. Thatís not where I shine. How can I seem friendly when I canít even seem to think of anything to say most of the time?
Friendly on the Inside
Just that you want to be more at ease in social settings is a beginning. Wanting something is the first step in having it. So now relax and trust that the new, chatty, friendly, social-butterfly you is already in the making. Start telling yourself every day that you will find something to say to everyone you meet. And then start practicing that. Even if itís just, ďI love your shoes.Ē Exchanging a casual word or two with people every day will put you more and more at ease.
When you know who some of the people youíll be seeing, are, itís even easier. Think of things to bring up with them beforehand. Do they have kids? Pets? A hobby you know about? Ask them about it, and let them talk. People love talking about themselves and the things they care about.
You could also spend the days prior to the event, catching up on news, current events and so on, so youíll have more topics to choose from.
Another thing to do is to team up with someone who is also going to the seminar. If you have a more outgoing friend at your side to help carry the conversation when it gets slow, you wonít feel so pressured.
Donít underestimate the power of a smile. As long as you are smiling, listening to the people who are talking, making eye contact, laughing and nodding, no one will think of you as unfriendly. Toss in an occasional comment, and youíve got it all.
Relax about this a little more. Donít pressure yourself too much. And when you do come up with a line and drop it into the conversation at the right place, be very pleased with yourself about it. Give yourselve a big pat on the back and trust that it will come easier next time, and then easier the time after that, and so on.