Mix and Mingle

The holidays are a busy time of year when it comes to social events. It can also an intimidating time of the year if you lack a confidence and are shy. Whether it’s a casual neighborhood gathering or a formal office party, starting up conversations with people you either don’t know or don’t know well can be difficult and leave you feeling anxious and nervous.

Here are some ways to put the social butterflies at rest.

  1. Be open to conversation. Start by smiling and making eye contact and adding in hello. Being friendly and open will help get conversations started.
  2. Don’t spend too much time on your smartphone. If you’re looking at your smartphone too much you may miss a cue that someone may be interested in starting a conversation with you. People may assume that you are not interested in a conversation and may be less likely to approach you.
  3. Join an ongoing group conversation at the social event. At social gatherings people often walk around, moving in and out of different conversations. See if you can join a group that is discussing a topic that interests you.
  4. Ask questions. This is a great opportunity to catch up with coworkers, friends or family on what they have been up to. Be careful it doesn’t turn into an interview -like conversation, and try to share some experiences and stories of your own.
  5. Step out of your comfort zone. Once you start a conversation with someone and you feel comfortable talking with the, you may feel like sticking with them all night. Try to take a risk and strike up a conversation with someone else. You may find someone else that has similar interests as you and have some great conversations.
  6. Stay out of the kitchen. Don’t avoid the social get together by staying away. Get immersed in the event.
  7. Avoiding social situations will only worsen your anxiety. If you’re shy, talking to others will be difficult at first. Things may not go completely smooth, but it will get easier – just keep practicing.
  8. Don’t be too tempted to drink before the party to calm your nerves. Arrive at the party and settle in for a bit before going for a drink. You’ll find you have calmed a little even without alcohol.
  9. Trying to control or hide your anxiety at a party may make it worse. Accept the uncomfortable feelings, and try the tips above to keep calm.

‘Tis the season to enjoy friends, coworkers and family at social gatherings galore – you can enjoy them as well. Take a breather now and then by stepping outside or away from it all. Relax yourself, then go back in there and join in the fun. You may surprise yourself on how you have become a little less shy. Take things slow and follow the tips above.

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