Are you struggling with social anxiety? Do you avoid social gatherings or events like parties or weddings, having to go places where you don’t know people and feel like tonnes of efforts to make friends?
Do you tend to shy away or feel anxious, with palms sweating when entering the hall or room full of people who seem to get it but you’re left all alone standing in a corner, and then not knowing what to say when people come close and approach you and you just want to run away?
Some of us are naturals, but there are also those of us who have been there. And, it is daunting at first because we have little exposure to such environment and we seem so little in front of so many people so we tend to feel very self-conscious, how we look, what we do and say, and even how we eat!
Thankfully, there are ways to tackle these anxieties and win over them.
You can experiment for yourself the next time you’re left with no choice but to attend some events that you can’t don’t go.
1. Nobody wants to be seen standing alone, and no one wants to arrive at the event and having to see groups already there chatting away and feel left out.
If you arrive at a public event where you have no common friends, you can take your time to look around for the most viable group to ‘join’ in. Chances are those people who were there in the group may have joined in the middle of two person’s conversations. As you get closer to the group, pay attention to their topic of discussion. If the topic catches your interest, you can choose to mingle in slowly and pay attention to the speaker. If there is a chance, introduce yourself to the group and ask if you can join in.
If their topics are not interesting to you, look for another one. There is no worse feeling than having joined a group only to feel bored and want to move away again.
Tips: You can choose to invite a friend over but be mindful of seeking the host approval first, and if your friend feels comfortable going. I’ve attended events when my friends invited me, but the host didn’t know and it was a-w-k-w-a-r-d….
2. Have some conversation topics in hand for ice-breaking sessions.
If you’re alone and you spot someone who’s also alone and look bored, maybe you can attempt to introduce yourself. Two person in a group is better than you getting anxious standing around all by yourself.
Tips: Look at the person in the eye (not stare at them though!). When you maintain eye contact, you feel more connected and confident, the other party will pay more attention to what you’re saying as well.
And speak slowly, be articulate. You have an entire evening ahead of you, and you’d want to deal with as fewer people as possible. It’s better to get acquainted with a few and keep the conversation going than to constantly move around trying to introduce yourself and rack your brains for new topics all over again, which is energy draining.
The only way is to maximise your interaction with a few handful of people you’ll meet.
Some conversation starters may be:
Introducing yourself.: Your name, if it’s difficult then elaborate on how to remember your name, where are you from, what are you studying, etc.
Weather: It’s fine, but it does not really have a continuity. If you ask about the weather And they say it’s fine, been hot but some showers or winter is coming and Christmas is coming and may bring to a new topic of discussion like if you’re going on holidays, how excited you get, and so on. What’s next?
Maybe you can ask them where they are from if they are not local. Ask them about interesting stuff happening or news that’s going on. It was interesting for me to find that not only Thais celebrate Water Festival for their New Year. People in Myanmar do too.
Depending on the type of event you’re attending, it may sound boring to talk about school if you’re attending a party, but if you’re at a gathering, you can talk about a project or assignment that you’re doing, and how you’re doing if you are still in school. If you are struggling with some subject and the other person is alright at it, maybe they can give you some guidance.
If you love movies or music, talk about the latest release and who you adore. If you love to paint and draw, let people know.
You can actually talk about anything under the sun that you know, there are not really many restrictions if both of you are interested in that topic.However, do take care not to overstep boundaries and keep topics of politics, religion and gender to very small scale.