When we were children, going to a party filled us with excitement. Yet it’s easy to lose this childish glee as we get older – perhaps we worry about the impression we make on others, or wonder how to have conversations and create new friendships. Or maybe we dred falling into our usual but worn social patterns – doing all the listening and none of the talking, or slipping out to the kitchen to help, rather than meeting new people.
I’m going to create this blog so you can learn, “What sort of party person are you” create rapport with anyone, boost your charisma and understand why we fear being judged. Helping you to rediscover that sense of excitement about any social occasion.
Come in from the cold.
Stimulating conversation, laughter and the chance to feel connected with others – apart or social gathering holds out so much promise. But sometimes it takes the courage to step into a buzzing room and just start chatting.
Here’s how to join in, speak up and enjoy the fun.
One of the greatest pleasures of going out is the chance we might fall into a stimulating, funny, heartfelt or even life-changing conversation, perhaps with someone we haven’t met before. A dinner with a friend, drinks with colleagues or an event full of like-minded people all offer the possibility of forging connections, sparking ideas and plans that wouldn’t have occurred had we stayed at home.
Yet entering a room where everyone seems to to be deep in conversation can leave us feeling uncertain. The phrase “work the room” can strike fear into the hearts of otherwise confident people, who shudder at the thought of hiding behind a glass of wine while a cluster of brilliant people hold dazzling, but exclusive conversations. Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone.
The phrase “work the room” can strike fear into the hearts of otherwise confident people.
It’s not that you don’t have anything to say, good conversation is one of life’s pleasures, but to most, the ice-breakers and small talk hard are the hardest parts, you know you’re missing out, but marching up to people and introducing yourself feels too forward, too American – not most peoples style.
It’s easy to forget that parties are supposed to be fun, we give ourselves added pressure by wanting to look our best, combined with the notion we are invited for our personality or friendship, thus we are meant to look like we are enjoying the occasion.
It’s also a problem at networking where the usually clear business etiquette is often removed and it’s hard to know how to act. There is an element of risk, of making a faux-par or failing to connect with someone. But the risks are low compared to the rewards gained, and if you do connect with others, it will bolster you through the years events and beyond.
Focus on the potential rewards – after all, a conversation is how all relationships begin.
Join the conversation.
While there is plenty of good advice on how to steady your nerves at a social gathering, often focusing on encouraging others to do the talking while we listen attentively, there are times when we want to jump in and join a lively conversation, making contributions of our own rather than sitting on the sidelines.
Here are a few tips to forge stronger connections, how to express yourself more without seeming to hog the limelight.
Before the event.
Consider a warm-up, go for a walk, touch your toes, shake your arms, even if you have to do this in a toilet cubicle. The more tension you can expel before you make your entrance, the better. On the threshold of the part or event, remind yourself why you are there. This will validate your presence and further encourage you.
“If your really shy this can help to push yourself out of your comfort zone in the minutes before you enter”.
Making small conversation “eg:- the weather, the night sky”. with a handful of strangers on the way to the event, the cab driver, the train passengers, the cloakroom attendant, It’s a low-risk way to edge you out of your shell, and dispel any nerves.
It’s always good to arrive early thus your not pushed into the big buzzing groups, you have time to view the venue, say hi and make small talk with the hosts.
By taking a minute to assess the room, you can ensure that you enter a conversation where you can shine.
Reading the room.
By taking a minute to assess the room, you can ensure that you enter a conversation where you can shine. Reading the body language of the group can help you to develop rapport before you speak. (look at the direction of peoples feet, are their palms up? do they make eye contact with you?)
When you approach, does the gap between them open, even slightly? These signals are all invitations. Mirror their body language. Nod when they do, sip from your glass in time with them. if you’re sitting down, lean forward or back in keeping with the group.
Choose your conversation wisely.
Once you have established a non-verbal rapport with your chosen group, take a few seconds to establish whether this is a context in which you will thrive.
Position yourself within eavesdropping distance of the group who look friendly and thus making sure its a discussion you want to engage in! There is nothing worse than having to talk about something you don’t understand, or are politically opposed to.
At this point, it’s tempting to think that only polished gems of a conversation are acceptable, It doesn’t matter if your opener appears banal, as such, its the message that’s behind it that matters here. Agree with the last point made, making eye contact with the speaker and smiling, (people want attention, recognition and approval from their conversations) So what if your opener is a cliche? Whatever sentence you use must have the subtext, “I want to participate with you” then you are building on the what you have in common even before you get to introduce yourself.
You’ve broken the ice and you’re in the circle. Now its time to sustain the conversation, This is a common concern, If you dry, it’s not because your dull, its because your own internal dialogue is drowning out the other person’s words. The trick to being truly present is to anchor yourself on what’s coming out their mouth so that you can concentrate on what’s being said.
Focus to the exclusion of everything else on their words, almost as if you’re trying to turn down the environmental noise around you and hear only them. It sounds counter-intuitive but it will mean your truly engaged with the conversation, and your own words will come more easily than if you had spent that time scrabbling to come up with a witticism in reply.
Create a conversational space.
If the problem isn’t coming up with an opinion, but finding space to voice it when several people seem to be talking at once, I recommend identifying the groups dominant speaker. This isn’t necessarily the person who’s talking the loudest, but the one who lubricates the discussion, due to their positive body language and listening skills.
Choose to respond to their words.
This is much easier than trying to keep up with, and prepare responses to, six or seven people all talking at once. If someone interrupts you, make a point of smiling and saying “you first”, This way you bow out gracefully but make it clear that your own opinion is forthcoming, and to be listened to.
Keep talk following.
While I advise against having a script, I will always advise to have a few stock questions up your sleeve for any awkward moments. I know its a bit cheesy, but a good opening question for any occasion is –
What do you do when you’re not doing this?
It’s open-ended, and empowering the other person to decide whether they want to give you information about themselves professionally or personally, that in itself will give you a good idea about how to steer the rest of the conversation.
Dealing with a stonewaller.
If you end up next to someone stiff and inscrutable, you can still make a connection – you just need to modify your approach.
So in this scenario adapt your body language so the situation is less confrontational, standing side-by-side rather than opposite one another, (picture two men standing side-by-side at a bar, enjoying a conversation without making eye contact)
If possible, turn towards a common focal point, most parties have at least one, from paintings or sculpture.
Modify your speech, too. Use short sentences to tease out your information, working a little harder to draw the other person in.
Round table tactics.
Formal sit-down meals ought to be less intimidating than other parties where the onus is on the guests to mill-around and make contact. But what if you find yourself stuck at the table between two people who are busy talking to others?
I recommend to try and make the table dynamics work for you:-
Make eye contact with those diagonally across from you, Listen and then laugh at their jokes, nod and match their movements as we mentioned before.
They are likely to drag you into their conversation which will naturally raise your profile with your immediate neighbours. if you can use the food and drink as props, Want to talk to the person on your left? Then refill their glass and ask what they think of the wine and involve the person they are already talking to…