For those who are shy, meeting new people is a daunting and scary prospect. However, by following a few simple guidelines, shy people can turn this into a positive, exciting experience and widen their social circle painlessly.
The first thing to do is to adopt an attitude that you will be interested, curious and excited at learning about new people. This is best done shortly before going to the party or event where you expect to meet new people. While it can be difficult to make long-term attitude changes, you will find it simple to say to yourself ‘at the party, I’ll be interested in finding out about new people – what they do, their hobbies and interests, and so on’. Then at the party, act consistent with your attitude. Appear interested in other people – most people love to talk about themselves, so you’d be surprised at how easy it really is to successfully draw someone out in conversation. This will help direct your energy away from your self-consciousness and help enable you to see the good points about meeting new people.
The second thing to remember is to smile. While you may be a little out of your comfort zone at the party or event, if you are smiling anyway you will come across as friendly, approachable and best of all, social. Of course, you would not want to keep a frozen grin on your face or direct the smile at one person the whole time! – simply make sure you have a pleasant expression on your face to make it look like you are enjoying yourself.
The third important thing to remember when meeting new people is that shy people can unintentionally come off as being a little intense if they focus their entire attention on the new person they are meeting. It is best to smile, talk a little and appear to enjoy it, and after a few minutes of conversation, move onto something else (go to the bathroom, get some food or drinks, and so on). You can always go back to the new person later on in the evening. If you are meeting the new person in a group setting, then likewise either move onto some other task or join back into the general conversation going on in the group. You won’t want to sound like an interview panel full of questions for the new person!
One tactic to help with knowing what to say so you are not tongue-tied when you meet a new person is to think ahead of things you might want to talk about. Before the party or event, think about questions you could ask a new person, such as “what do you do for your career?” and when they tell you, immediately think of something positive to say about that.
One of the best things you can do as a shy person is to give a social person the opportunity to say a funny story (not a joke, a true story). It will show you are socially with-it, particularly in a group setting, without putting YOU in the position of having to tell a funny story. Don’t make your whole conversational gambit around it, but for example if the new person works in customer service, you could say “Wow, I bet you get to see all sorts of people during your day! Do you ever get any really weird requests?” Now the moment is wide open for the person to tell you about their craziest customer, and the new person will be grateful to you for a chance to tell a funny story, particularly in a group setting.
Lastly, consider each time you are meeting new people to be practice – don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself to get it all ‘perfect’. If something didn’t go as planned, don’t stew over it for the rest of the party (or at all!) Just chalk it up to experience and mentally move on. Simply aim to improve on meeting new people each time you have a chance to practice and you will be on the right track.
In summary, there are plenty of things that shy people can do to be successful at meeting new people. Most of these tactics involve becoming interested in the new person, rather than focusing on how uncomfortable this can be for oneself. Best of all, following these guidelines can not only lead you to social success, but more importantly you will find yourself genuinely enjoying the process of meeting new people!