BREATHE! It’s okay. Seriously. Literally take a breath. It might help you relax. Don’t worry, rolling a critical fumble in a social engagement doesn’t usually end in dismemberment. But taking a moment to calm down might make a difference.
#9: Smile, say HI
Be friendly. Smile. Just trust me on this. Remember: RELAX. Also – you aren’t the only shy person! They might be shy. SAY SOMETHING! = D “Hello” is a good start, often followed by some version of “How are you?” A safe route from there is small-ish stuff: “I love this place” or “What did you get” are good examples, depending on where you are.
#8: Be sincere
Nothing sucks more than a phoney. Some people can tell when you’re fakin’ it.
Share bits about you, ask bits about them. Conversation goes both ways (or multiple ways, if you are so inclined.) Find yourself talking about you a lot? You need to ask some questions. If you find yourself just asking questions, you need to share a bit about you. Balance, young Jedi. Final note: Beware the Over Share! If you dive into very personal waters – medical, sexual, etc and etc – and they aren’t, maybe you’re getting in too deep! Watch their face, their reactions. Pay attention to what they say as well.
#6: It’s not a competition
Know what? A little humility goes a long way. No need to “one up” the other person. It doesn’t mean you can’t disagree, just don’t be attached to them seeing things your way. It’s fine to talk about things you’re good at… with *ahem* modesty. If you get the urge to brag, or talk about all the things that demonstrate your superior intelligence and prowess, put that feeling on hold. For most people, the getting to know each other phase is about sharing, not showing off.
#5: Pay attention
If you were “paying attention” I already mentioned this. There’s nothing more insulting than telling someone who you are or how you feel, and that person going, “huh?” Or them obliviously stumbling into a non sequitur. Or asking a question that was basically already covered.
#4: Use what you hear
In normal conversation, clues pop up. Told ya to pay attention! ; ) Tidbits can be turned into the next topic. For example, someone says, “Yeah, my boy (or girl, etc) friend does that too.” It’s easy to follow with, “How long ya’ll been together? How’d you meet?” If someone says, “My cat hates that,” you can say, “Oh, what’s your cat’s name? How old is your cat?” (This is a much better direction than saying, “I hate cats.” BEWARE I said!) Kids = “How old are your kids?” And so on, ad infinitum.
#3: On that note, say something Nice!
People tend to enjoy having compliments lobbed their way. As opposed to… grenades. Find something positive to say about them, or their work, or something they like. Make it a) sincere b) simple c) sexual – NOT! a) see above – don’t fake it! b) don’t over elaborate or go on and on, just say something brief c) best to avoid sexual comments in general, often even gender specific comments. “Nice shoes” is alright, “nice outfit” might be misconstrued, so make sure you have the right inflection. “I liked your drawing,” or “I admire the work you do” is a lot safer and more likely to create warm fuzzies.
#2: Don’t let fear stop you
RELAX I said! And go for it! In a calm fashion! I’m not saying the fear will go away. It might, it might not. Just learn to push through and you will probably have some pleasant results. If you don’t try… guess what? No homies!
#1: Follow up
In conversation, this means if an interesting topic comes up, get into it, in an exchanging, non-showing off sort of way. After a conversation, this means get some contact info and shoot an email or text. Don’t be a stalker! But if you cringe in your room, waiting to hear from them, then you just may never contact each other again. If you like them, reach out.
Now… turn off your computer, get out there and meet someone!