Being social doesn’t take a lot of work if you break it down. It’s just a matter of initiating that is intimidating. You can even say it’s the hardest part and the only challenge! Nurturing relationships — we’ll get into that later — is simply a matter of consistency and repeating the easy process I will break down for you here.
Just as a heads up, I’m an ambivert. This means I can turn on my social conviviality when I choose to. However, it takes a ton of energy to recharge and want to see others again for a while. From what I have observed about full-time introverts, I learnt that they have a challenging time appreciating breaking barriers of small talk, and prefer to get to the meat of a conversation. Subscribe for The Glow Up weekly newsletter and never miss a single post!
Unfortunately, that’s not how the world works. Being stunned with direct dialogue can come off and rude, prying, and abrupt. You can collect information and communicate whatever you want as long as you do this:
Make light of everything.
This includes your attitude, other people’s heavy criticisms (whether it’s toward you are someone/something else), and anything negative. Turn it around. Smile and laugh it off. Even if you don’t want to. Emotional control is the sexiest thing people are attracted to. In other words, positivity.
People don’t smile because they are happy. They smile because they are strong.I forgot.
People like someone in charge, who takes control where they can. This means they are not phased by the extreme and do not blink when there’s a loud thunderstorm outside. It’s the definition of calm and cool. Nothing gets on your nerves, because you worked out all that anger at the gym and meditating this morning. No biggie.
There should never be anything negative escaping your lips. People should not hear you complain. You do not share bad news. When they ask how you are, you say ‘well’, because you have your health, and things could be worse. It’s also actually rude to complain and highly improper.
For example, if your feet hurt, say ‘excuse me’, go change your shoes and come back. If someone asks where you were you can respond, ‘I changed my shoes. I felt they matched better with this outfit. What do you think?’
Be the first to initiate.
This is going to take some practice. Just like anything, it takes practice and you’ll get good at it. First, you need to get used to the idea by actually doing it a good handful of times.
I know a lot of people, clients, and loved ones, who get seriously distraught at failing the first time they try something and are hopeless about ever trying it again. You won’t get anywhere in life with this attitude. Pick yourself up and do it. You can’t fail at this. You simply get up and try a new way that works.
Remember people love a person of action. Growing up, I used to go to church dances, and music would be playing but nobody would be on the dance floor. The problem was I could see wallflowers bobbing their heads and mouthing their lyrics like teenagers do when they absolutely love a song. I would be the first to dance like a fool and critical mass would follow.
Nobody wants to be the first to dance. But everyone wants to dance. They got dressed up, drove there, and managed to show up. Of course they want to dance. Everyone is itching to! Everybody wants to be a hero, but nobody will get off their butts and do it. For the most part, people are generally sheep. Don’t be a sheep. You will stand out instantly in a positive manner for this.
How to initiate is simple: introduce yourself.
When you see someone on their phone at a party, it’s a shield. Approach them.
If you see someone standing alone, approach them.
If you notice someone who is barely getting a word in a discussion, include them by asking what they think.
If the conversation is going dry, tell the individual you’re going to get a drink, or you just saw your friend if you did.
Introduce yourself to as many people as possible. This way when you have no idea what to say anymore after breaking the ice, you can introduce them to someone whom you just met. When you introduce the two people, don’t just give their name. Share a piece of information about each other, something they could potentially have in common, something they are good at, or if they may have met before. It helps get the sparks of the fire started and you can make your exit.
This also gives you a chance to mingle even more or take a break.
Don’t be glued to your friend.
Sometimes there are people who are deathly afraid to go to a party alone, so they bring a friend. Other times, there are two friends are inseparable and seem to never leave each other’s side at a party. This counts for significant others.
You shouldn’t stick to one person throughout the party. Not even your husband or wife. Don’t be that person. You are not at a party to chit chat the whole time with your partner. You might as well would have stayed at home. You are here to socialise.
I also see the person who only knows one person very well at a get together and their eye contact is only on that person when talking, even when the discussion is between several people. There is always that someone who monopolises another individual at a party and acts like their sidekick, and alienates others when they talk, because they only talk to that one person. Usually the other person will try to talk with others normally and include others in a group discussion and not act like it’s only two people in that conversation. It’s really rude not to.
Attention is human currency. It is rude to exclude people. Etiquette is all about including everyone and giving each person a chance to shine.
Say yes to everything.
Now that people know who you are, they might invite you to future get togethers. You need to say yes to all of them. Well, yes to only the people you are interested in getting to know better. If you are not certain if you want a person to be in your circle, saying yes is a chance to get to know them better.
If you get invited to an event that you’re not interested in, for example, if you don’t like modern art and you got invited to a Rauschenberg exhibit, say yes anyway. This is perfect, because you are there to get to know the person and you can actually focus on them. Also, you might change your mind if this person gives you a new perspective. Always be open.
In addition to getting invited to an occasion you’re not interested in, say it’s a hard rock concert and you’re not into the genre, invite them to do something before or after the event since they’re already planning to be out. This way you can talk about it beforehand or afterward and go out for drinks with their excited, radiant energy. You can say you love the area they will be attending the concert in and it’s a good chance to meet up.
Make sure you actually show up to the occasion you were invited to. If you flake, they will not invite you anymore, and you will only been seen as a shallow acquaintance. On the other hand, if you go to their event and you can feel like you both do not necessarily jive, that’s okay too. No words need to be exchanged about a social friendly breakup. Simply keep them as an acquaintance.
Never burn bridges. Things might change in the future and you eventually might have something new in common. Or they might introduce you to someone who you get on well with later down the line.
If they didn’t invite you to something, do this.
Add them on social media. Make sure you got their social or business card during your departure. If you get their contact information rather than them taking yours, you can guarantee that action will be taken so that you can reach out to them right away. This way you’re not waiting around for someone to call you.
Find a way to contact them in the future. This way you can invite them to something and not go alone. You can add them on linkedin, instagram, a whatsapp group or simply get their number. The phone number today feels so intimate, and people screen texts, so treat the phone number preciously and don’t be pushy. If you invite them twice or thrice and they keep saying no, then stop inviting them. They are not interested and move on.
If someone genuinely wants to get to know you, they will make a point to take action and find a way to meet up when they can. This also counts for dating. You know someone likes you when you call them in the middle of the day and they randomly skip work for you just because you called. When there’s no ambiguity that they want to see you, they’re interested.
Master small talk
This is easy. I need to put that into your head first before I give you the guide on how to master such a groundbreaking way to be able to talk with anybody. People always ask what the purpose of small talk is or think it’s an inane waste of time.
The truth is, it is tried and tested and always works. Keep it simple when introducing yourself and talking with people, because you have no idea who they are. I know it may seem boring, but you do not open the fridge door and grab something to eat. You open the fridge door, turn your head to look with your eyes to see what is there, then grab something to eat.
It is wiser if you do this, and more careful when considering a person’s feelings. Say, if you make fun of Jews or make a joke that you think is funny about Jews and have zero idea if that person is Jewish when you’re not. You might think this example is stupid and obvious, but I have witnessed this happen.
People have a foot in their mouth all the time. Watch your step, start slow, and way to do this is ask, comment, ask, compliment. If you ask a question, always make a comment after their response that is at least a sentence long.
Not one word. Not two words. A full remark of what they said, paraphrased. You can restate what they said in your own words — this is called pacing in psychology. It shows that you are actively listening.
Or you can make your own observation on what they just said and then you can subsequently ask them something else if you have more queries or need more insight. This way they don’t feel like you’re being abrupt or as if they are being interrogated. I see this all the time. People don’t realise how pushy they are, and it’s really unattractive and off-putting. Give people some social space by adding your two cents in between questions.
Give this a like and subscribe to help more people come out of their shell and make friends. If you want more social graces, visit my digital finishing school at dixonetiquette.com. Let me know your experiences in the comments below. I always love hearing from you.