Your phone pings and you check the notification. It’s an event invite to a party.
It sounds fun but panic quickly sets in when you realize you’ll only know one person there.
Social anxiety affects around 15 million in the US alone. While you might not suffer from full anxiety, you might still worry about talking to new people.
Luckily we’ve got your back. Read on to discover our 5 steps to talking to anyone.
1) Make eye contact
It can feel strange when someone talks to you out of the blue. So make eye contact before you speak.
You can use this as a signal to tell if it’s okay to speak. If the person maintains eye contact, try smiling.
If they smile back, great!
This is also a good way to determine if they’re busy. If someone is scrolling through an app on their phone, they’re not open to talking.
Neither are people wearing headphones or reading books.
2) Find a cue to talk
You don’t want to make things overly complicated. Stick to simple conversation starters.
So use the environment to give you cues.
If you’re waiting for a job interview, maybe mention the art on the walls of the office.
Perhaps you’ve already gone into your interview. Ask the interviewer how their day is going.
If you’re at an exercise class, try speaking to the person next to you. A simple “I’ve found muscles I didn’t know I had!” is a great way to get talking.
Parties can be a particularly daunting situation. Try heading to the kitchen and offer to help.
It’s always much easier to chat to people while you’re doing something else. And later, you can start conversations more easily once you’ve met people while mixing drinks or making snacks.
3) Try compliments
Compliments can feel like a minefield. If you’re a man and you want to talk to a woman, you don’t want to feel sleazy.
And if you’re a woman and you want to talk to a man, you don’t want to seem desperate.
But genuine, honest compliments are a great way to start a conversation.
4) Ask plenty of questions
There’s nothing worse than talking to someone who only chats about themselves.
But you also don’t want the other person to feel interrogated. So you can respond and share about yourself to make it more of a conversation.
So ask open-ended questions that let the other person respond. Use their answers to keep the conversation going.
5) Keep trying
If someone bails on the conversation don’t take it personally. You don’t know what’s going on in their life and it might just be a bad time.
It might be a good idea to read up on body language before you enter the situation.
You might just not have anything in common. That’s likely at parties, particularly if you’ve only just met the host at work.
So if one person excuses themselves, find someone else to talk to. At a party, choose the person who looks nervous on their own.
Your opener can be as simple as “Don’t know many people here either, huh?” It’ll help establish you as an ally among strangers.
But whatever you do, don’t give up. Remember you have a lot to offer a conversation!