Do you ever just sit in the workplace, school or even in Costa and look around to find all these people talking animatedly with each other – laughing, flicking their glossy hair while exchanging quips and witty remarks – and wonder to yourself, HOW do they do that?
Do you sit there, surrounded by people and yet feeling like you’re on a remote island and no one speaks the same language as you?
Perhaps you’re new to the school playground and for the last 6 weeks, standing on the concrete waiting for your little darling to come out of their classroom, you’re surrounded by women who are already in their “click.” And somehow you missed the invitation to join ANY of them.
Maybe you notice that you never get invited to work nights out. You see your “friends” going out and having a great time….without you.
Do you ever wonder to yourself, HOW do I get missed out? WHY can’t I have fun and be the life and soul of the party?
Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was someone who could help you TRANSFORM your social life and become the friend everyone wants to hang out with? Or heck, just to help you know WHAT TO SAY when a situation feels awkward.
Whether it is a case of selective mutism, introversion, or social paralysis…I’m here to help. This post is to give you a toolbox of ways to turn into a social butterfly!
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Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?
If you struggle to speak up around people and make friends, then the chances are you are naturally an Introvert. However, this isn’t alway the case.
Extroverts are people are who love to be with people and gain energy spending time with other people.
Introverts find spending time with people drains their energy.
And there are the complicated bunch called Ambiverts who are sort of both. I am an Ambivert. I love to be around people and find myself getting sad and lonely when I’m not out and with people. However, I also need space and time to be alone to recharge my batteries.
This quiz will show you what you are, incase you haven’t already got a good idea!
It’s important not to try to be someone you’re not. The purpose of this post is not to change who you are, but to help you identify your own personality, embrace it and use it to positively influence your social life.
Do you know your personality type?
Myer’s Briggs came up with the 16 personality profiles. There are simple tests online to find out which one you are and once you know, you’ll be able to read up a lot of free literature on your profile to understand yourself better. I love this test to find out.
It’s so helpful to know your strengths, the love language you speak, what makes you tick and what type of person you are.
For example, you might think you want to be the life and soul of the party, but actually your true nature is to be that friend who sits in the corner speaking to the one crying and spilling out all of their problems. Or maybe you’re the friend who is busy in the foyer making sure there are enough drinks and food for everyone and the DJ plays the best tunes. You might be the friend who got everyone there in the first place and will drive 20 miles out of their way to make sure your friends get home safely.
All personality types are valuable and important to make a great party experience! And not just at a party, in the workplace, sports team, community group and in the family. So don’t sweat it if you’re not naturally outgoing. You are awesome just the way you are.
Meeting someone new for the first time? At a party and you’re sat on the couch across from a couple of strangers and no idea how to fill the awkward silence? The harder you think of something to say, the more awkward you feel. Help! Help! What do I do now?
Relax. For starters. Just take a breath, this isn’t a problem.
If you’re British, you may be tempted to smile, take out your phone and comment on the weather. Another popular topic choice is also mentioning the news or sharing a random fact.
This time, you’ve attempted to make an exchange of conversation but somehow every topic has fallen flat and ended. Here is a list of fail-safe questions to break the ice and get the conversation flowing naturally.
“I have a question for you, are you a bookworm or a movie buff?”
“Are you a cat person or a dog person?”
“Have you always lived locally?”
“What do you do for a living?”
“Have you ever gone abroad?”
You could pretty much ask any question (So long as it’s not too personal and avoids politics, religion and money for now.) The secret is in the follow up. Don’t just ask the question and sit back, relax and let the other person do all the work. Ask follow up questions.
e.g. “Are you a bookworm or a movie buff?”
“I don’t really read all that much. I do like watching movies though.”
“Oh yeah? I’m a huge movie fan. What kind of movies are you into?”
“Have you seen ‘Daddy’s Home 2’ Yet? It’s hilarious…”
Or what about when the answer isn’t positive and feels like a dead end?
“Have you ever gone abroad?”
“Have you got a place in mind for your bucket list?”
The key is to talk about something that relates to the topic you’re on. If it’s travel, you can draw on any memories of times you’ve gone somewhere new. Stories go down well, especially if they’re embarrassing or funny. Don’t hog the conversation though, make sure to finish with a question.
People love to talk about themselves. It’s just our human nature. In fact, according to the book “How to win friends and influence people,” you learn all about our natural NEED to feel important and being asked questions and then being listened to, fills that need.
That brings me onto the next step:
No one likes to talk to someone who asks a question, gives you 5 seconds to reply and then starts speaking again. If you are that personality type, you need to calm down and maybe count in your head to 20 or something before jumping in on the conversation.
Everyone loves a good listener. Be authentic and interested in the answers too. The greatest gift you can give anyone is your time and attention. If you give other people the respect to get to know them and listen to their stories, you’ll win huge respect back.
Compliment, Appreciate, Laugh
Find something you admire in the people you’re with. “Love your dress”, “I noticed on LinkedIn you got a new job, congratulations, how’s it going?”, “Your kids are great! They’re a real credit to you”.
If the socialite is telling jokes, laugh at them. Even if they’re not funny. It doesn’t have to be a – throw – your – head – back – and – roar kind of laugh, but they’ll appreciate a smile and chuckle. Even if you’re not the type of person to create the banter or fun at the situation, be the person who is supportive and builds up the confidence in those around them.
Invite friends to hang out
If you’re feeling sore from not getting invited out. Why not be the one to dish out the invitations? Sometimes people get left out because they’ve been busy, distracted or a bit of a party-pooper in the past. Maybe you’ve been quiet and awkward so other people don’t know who you are yet or how to take you. So hosting a get together or inviting people to come and join in your conversation in the office cafeteria will go a long way to turning acquaintances into friends.
I often get told “Oh Laura, people are so unfriendly, no one cares about me.” It’s partly true. People naturally care about themselves. I know that sounds pretty harsh but unfortunately it’s just how it is. There are people who genuinely care about others most of the time, but for the most part people really care about themselves and how they are perceived. So the more friendly you are, the most interested you are in getting to know others, the more people will like you.
To Sum it all Up
Know Who you Are – Find out what type of person you are. What you have to offer other people. And realise that you are a wonderful, interesting person who is worthy of friendship!
Break the Ice – Ask simple icebreaker questions to get the conversation started and then keep talking on topic. Like a chain reaction, the topics will organically flow from topic to topic as you volley back and forth in discussion.
Listen – Become a great listener, nodding and “mm”ing is good too. Respond to their comments and be agreeable and friendly in your manner. (Unless I suppose, you’re naturally a devil’s advocate.)
Compliment – Share uplifting words and opinions to make other people feel good about themselves. Never put yourself down, this will create a heavy cloud of awkwardness faster than a stink bomb.
Invite others out – Don’t wait to be invited! Sometimes you’ve got to be the one to put your first foot forward and make the move. Why not walk into a click at the playground? Introduce yourself, smile, ask questions, laugh at the jokes.
Does it always work?
There will be so many times when you’ll fail at this. If you’re anything like me, that is. I have had my fair share of awkward silences, offended glances and downright cold shoulders. Even when I was doing everything right, sometimes the people around me were just not very nice. But guess what, that’s ok. They’re just not my tribe. You have to keep going and it takes time and skill to transform.
However, I promise that as you work on these skills, you’ll feel so much more confident which will help you with job interviews, prospecting new team members for your business, going to parties and making friends at the bus stop!
Follow these steps and your whole life will change.