Whether it’s your first day in a new place or you’re simply at a party surrounded by unfamiliar faces, being an introvert can raise some tricky questions. How do you go about making conversation with these people, let alone making a relationship? For extroverts, being surrounded by people is comforting, and the thought of approaching new people is not very daunting. On the other hand, for those who feel more comfortable keeping to themselves, approaching strangers is a worrisome task. Here are eight tips to help you break out of your shell.
1 . Make yourself approachable
We all say “don’t judge a book by its cover.” However, first impressions still hold great value. Body language is key, even though we may not consciously think about it. Maintain good posture—stand up straight, don’t hunch your shoulders, and look at people in the eye. This will suggest that you’re confident, making you more approachable. Keep a smile on your face and try not to cross your arms; this will convey to everyone that you are friendly and welcoming.
2 . Wear something that makes you feel confident
A tight, uncomfortable skirt or a rigid suit will make you feel uncomfortable and make it more difficult to look relaxed. In addition, discomfort often arises from personal worries about what others may think of you, so eliminate these worries by increasing your confidence level. Wear something that helps you feel good; with a tried and true outfit that you are proud of, you also won’t have to worry about any fashion mistakes that may arise. Additionally, ensure your clothes compliment you—if you wear properly fitting clothes that compliment your body shape, skin tone or lifestyle, this will boost your self-esteem and make you feel more comfortable with yourself. Also, consider wearing a conversation piece, such as a band t-shirt or a unique top–you never know who’s the attention you might trigger!
3 . Look for someone who is alone
Going up to someone who is not already socializing with someone eliminates the trouble of apologizing for interrupting a conversation—especially one that might be private and serious. Walk up to someone standing alone, smile, extend your hand for a handshake, and introduce yourself. It’s possible that this person doesn’t know anyone else either, and you can both meet others together.
4 . Avoid awkward silences
When you start to sense that a conversation is dying down, set your panic aside and look around the room for something to talk about. Observe and discuss the current situation, or ask questions about the other person that you’re speaking to. People are much more comfortable talking about themselves, and you never know where the conversation might lead to. Actively listen, and pay attention to what the other person is saying so that you can add personal insight or comments that keep the conversation going. Nod your head and give occasional feedback to demonstrate that you care and are interested.
5 . Make connections
Remember what others say—calling upon something that they mentioned previously will indicate to the other person that you are a good listener and someone who’s worth talking to. Even recalling an aforementioned fact can help you continue the discussion if you sense that the conversation is dying down. Looking for common ground to discuss will also allow you to comfortably discuss about a shared hobby, favorite sports team, or dislike, lifting the level from polite small talk to a real conversation.
6 . Respectfully disagree, but don’t isolate people
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but it might not always be worth inciting a heated debate when you’re trying to make friends. At the same time, don’t feel like you have to blindly nod along, especially when you do not agree on a point. Rather, respectfully share your perspective to avoid isolating the other person.
7 . Welcome others into your conversation
If you see someone who is also alone, welcome them into your conversation. Adding another person will increase the number of possible topics and comments to discuss. A conversation consisting of more than three people also appears to be more welcoming and inviting to others, making you all seem more approachable.
8 . Share something about yourself
Finally, it’s not appropriate to share your deepest, darkest secrets when you’re trying to approach new people, but if you have a unique personal hobby or story then share it! This will showcase a little bit more about yourself and allow the other person to have a repertoire of potential questions or thoughts that help to continue the conversation.