So there you are. You find yourself at a social gathering, a party, or an art opening, and you see a few people who you’re curious to know more. Maybe you’re single and scanning the room for attractive folks who might also be single. Maybe you’re in serious need of a new friend or two, and this seems like a great place to meet new cool people. Perhaps your outgoing friend next to you drags you into a group of strangers, and you find yourself feeling intimidated by the group in front of you.
I’ve spoken with several clients and friends lately that think of themselves as shy people. Some of these very scenarios might sound familiar, because many of us have faced them. There’s a handful of people that gracefully maneuver through social situations, and never have a need to connect with new friends or potential dates, but most of us find ourselves at one point or another thrust into these spaces in which our awkwardness seems to take over our minds and bodies.
I know this all too well ~ because I’ve been the shy person. Some days, I still am. In my years of teaching Communication classes and learning about connection, I’ve compiled this ridiculously easy (if you can actually manage to pull it off with courage, despite feeling nervous or blushing or awkward) way to meet people. And I’ve met so many amazing people using just this!
So here are three SUPER simple and easy ways to connect. They’re so easy – that you already know how to do them – and I’m just reminding you!
- Smile & Say Hello. Really, for reals. All you gotta do is smile. First off, smiling (even nervously) will give the impression of warmth and openness. Even if you’re not feeling it entirely, this is a good start. Smiling (even fake smiling) has been found to reduce stress and improve your mood – and the mood of others around you. So, your smile will make you seem approachable, it will make you feel less nervous, and maybe even a bit happier. Then, gather up your nerve, and say, “hi.”
- Ask Questions. If someone is open to getting to know you, and if they have the time to chat, asking questions keeps your conversation going. Ask curious questions. Ask what brings them to the particular event, how they know the host, where they are from, what they do for fun…the possibilities for curious conversation are endless. Asking someone questions demonstrates you are interested in them. This doesn’t mean to interview each person you meet. Pay attention to their tone of voice and eye contact. If they seem rushed or impatient, they are not the right person ~ or it’s not the right time. Move on, and go back to smiling and saying hello to someone new!
- Listen. In a world cluttered with technology distracting us every few minutes, a person who really shows up and listens is a gift. Anyone who is open to the possibility of a new friendship (or more) will dig someone who can actively listen, and respond showing they have been paying attention.
Connection is one of those sweet spot things ~ you have to try connecting with a lot of people before you find the “right” peeps. And timing is everything. Not everyone is open to new friends, dates, or even acquaintances at all times.
As tough as it may be, I encourage you to keep putting yourself out there. Keep smiling, saying hello, asking curious questions, and listening mindfully.