We’ve all been there – at an event or gathering where we only know that one person, and everyone else seems to know each other already. If you are an introvert, this can be an incredibly nerve wracking and intimidating situation. But don’t worry – here are a few tips to help you feel more confident and carry smooth conversations.
Wear a conversation starter
We all see it in people’s living rooms: a conversation piece. It sounds silly, but social settings can be awkward for a lot of people, and sometimes you really don’t have the choice not to go. If you are someone who gets nervous starting conversations and don’t know where to start and what to talk about, consider wearing something that could potentially drive someone else to start the conversation for you. Do you have tattoos? Wear a shirt where they are visible. An interesting necklace that you got on a trip across the country? Wear it! Chances are, someone will notice and ask you about it. This can lead to an entire conversation, just by wearing one little thing that stands out, and you should check this article for more information.
Wear what makes you feel confident but comfortable
Sometimes in social settings in which you don’t know a lot of people, it can be easy to hyperfocus on yourself and start feeling uncomfortable in your own clothes. Sometimes when we are nervous we start picking at our shirts, playing with our hair, or fumbling around with our sleeves. Before you enter a social setting in which you need to talk to people, wear what makes you feel confident but also comfortable. If you tend to pick at your clothes and start feeling awkward in that t-shirt that is just a little too tight to be comfortable, wear something simple but stylish that makes you feel confident. Jeans, a nice belt and a cute sweater, do your hair, and so forth.
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Talk about the highlight of your week
This may sound obvious, but it’s shocking how easy it is to lose your train of thought when you’re nervous. Suddenly you hear yourself talking about the weather, and trying to awkwardly start conversations that never go anywhere. Think about your week. What did you do this week and what does the rest of your week look like? Is there anything exciting going on? Did you get promoted? Are you going to visit your family upstate? Did you see something crazy happen on your way to work the other day? Maybe you found a cool new place that you really liked? Think about the little things that could potentially start or carry on a conversation. Once you have one talking point, whoever is interested will somehow carry on the conversation for you.
Don’t have an exciting week? Joke about it – most people can probably relate
It’s okay not to have too much to talk about, and realistically, most of the people you’re with probably don’t have much to talk about either. The primary way for conversation to carry on is to bond on certain things. If that means that you and the people you are with are bonding on literally not doing anything exciting due to X and Y reasons, then that can become a conversation in and of itself. Don’t get too nervous and overthink every little thing you say. Act like you already know these people. Also, chances are that a lot of them don’t know each other either!
Find relatable topics – what brought you here?
One easy conversation starter is the elephant in the room: why is everyone here? Whether you are at a business gathering, a cookout at your friend’s house, or even a wedding, an easy conversation starter is to talk about the event itself. If it is business related, you may think the obvious answer is “I’m here for work,” but this can lead into a conversation of what their role is. At a cookout or wedding, you can ask if they were invited by the host, bride, or groom, to see if maybe you have mutual friends, or if they are new to the group and came as a plus one. Either way, you’ll have something more to talk about and have the advantage of knowing a little more about the person and who else they know at the event.
People love to talk about themselves. It can be easy to go on a rant and ramble about yourself (even if it isn’t intentional). Try to avoid this by asking people more about themselves. Where they are from, what they do for work, where they went or go to school, and so on. This will give you the opportunity not only to learn more about the people you are with, but will also take you off of the spotlight, if you are shy or too nervous to talk.
Bring A Friend
If you are going to an event where you feel like you may not know many people and you can bring a plus one, do it. Taking a trusted friend with you will not only make the event more fun, but will make you feel a lot more comfortable being that you are not alone. If all else fails, you still have your friend by your side to make you feel more at ease!
Don’t like the circle? It’s okay to go home
Lastly, it is totally fine to leave if you are at an event that you don’t feel comfortable being at. Of course, there is the exception of being at a work related gathering in which you really can’t leave. If this is the case, don’t worry – most of the people there probably feel exactly the same way and can’t wait to go home. If you can, however, leave, and you find yourself surrounded by people who just aren’t it for you, then there is no shame in leaving. Your time is worth just as much as anyone else’s time, and you should spend it with people that you enjoy being around. If you feel like it’s awkward to just leave, just remember that these are people that you more likely than not are never going to hang out with again, so swallow it, and go home!
Most importantly, remember that everyone gets nervous from time to time. Not only that, but more often than not, the people that you are around probably feel the same way that you do. Keep in mind that you are surrounded by people just like you, so don’t be intimidated! Once you lose that initial fear and get the conversation going, everything will be effortless. Find the people you like and take it from there!