Good morning ladies and gents! As you know by now, we put a lot of emphasis on social skills here, since they are an integral part of functioning in society. For some, socializing appears to come naturally, but that isn’t the case for everyone. As part of the Black Sheep family, we want to make sure that we all have the tools and resources to gain a return in our personal or professional lives, and generally our social lives do play a strong role in them. Without further ado, let’s dive right into the dreaded topic of small talk. Today, we bring a short comprehensive guide, The Ladies and Gentleman’s Guide to Socializing.
Why, you might ask? Well, most social interactions must begin with small talk, and it pays to get good at it. Contrary to popular belief, small talk does have a purpose – when you meet a stranger, the two of you generally need to warm up to each other with easily digestible conversation, before you can dive into anything else. Think about it: would you approach a stranger and right away ask them “what do you think is the purpose of life?”
The topic isn’t too important, since the main part of small talk is to show the other person that you’re friendly and approachable, and to make them feel comfortable. In return, you will also build comfort with this person. Small talk is only boring if you let it go on for too long, so allow a few minutes of shallow talk, and then let the bonding begin!
No-one is free of self-doubt when socializing, but you can definitely trick yourself into becoming more confident. One way to do this is by being present in the moment. When you’re engaging in a conversation with someone, it’s easy to slip into your own head and start to worry about what you’re going to say next or what others may think of you. Instead, try your best to focus on the conversation at hand and your surroundings. The more present you are, the more you can listen, and add to the conversation you’re having.
The secret to being seen as interesting is by having people think that talking to you is interesting. One way to make a conversation interesting is by shifting the conversation toward passions and interests! You can ask someone about their jobs, or what they like to do when they’re not working. If they mention something off-handedly like a concert they went to, probe more into that. You should ask follow-up questions in order to get deeper with someone, and it also helps in making you look sincerely interested in speaking with them. But don’t make this into an interview – share bits of information about yourself and relate it to the conversation as it flows naturally. If you can’t relate to the topic you’re discussing, don’t worry about it too much – but do try to throw in some nuggets of information about yourself here and there, so that you don’t feel like an interrogator.
Some things to keep in mind:
- You can never fail if you focus more on being yourself than impressing the other person.
- Trust is more important than impressing people.
- Assume the other person has good intentions in what they’re saying (unless they flat out insult you!)
If you’re an introvert, you’re probably thinking: “This is great and all, but you haven’t addressed the main problem.” Starting a conversation is usually the hardest part, even for some veteran socializers sometimes. Let’s tackle some different ways to approach strangers:
It’s always good to start small when entering a new room with little to no people that you know. While in an ideal situation someone would approach us, we can’t always count on that. See if you spot anyone standing alone, and start a conversation about your surroundings, for example about the food, what time the event is going to start, or the location. Alternatively, you can start by asking a slightly personal question such as “How do you know so and so?” or “Are you also from Colorado?” Be sure to have some tidbits about yourself to throw in afterwards, because they may answer with only a few words.
The most important part about approaching a group is to not “crash the party”. Start by approaching a group and listen in. It’s not weird, as long as you look like you’re actually listening! Remember that if people ignore you at first, it doesn’t mean they want you to go away – it’s usually because they’re very engaged in the conversation. If it’s a smaller group, they’ll usually acknowledge you after 20-30 seconds, and that’s your cue to introduce yourself and make a comment about what they were just discussing. Make sure you don’t tense up too much – just smile and be approachable!
Some things to keep in mind:
- Try to get to events early if you want to socialize. Groups usually haven’t formed yet and an emptier room can feel way less intimidating. You can meet people who may be waiting for friends or colleagues to join, so if you get comfortable with them early, they’ll introduce you to other people as they walk in! It’s a win-win.
- Greet everyone, even if someone in the group doesn’t seem directly engaged in the conversation. Sometimes, people may be left out or are too much in their own heads, and you introducing yourself can make a huge difference. It’s the respectable, confident and leader-like thing to do!
- Try to remember the names of people that you are speaking with, to save embarrassing moments later. Dale Carnegie stated that a person’s favorite word is their names, so repeating it to them later on in a conversation can have a powerful impact.
- Read the room by doing your best to tune into people’s reactions as opposed to just what they’re saying. If their eyes light up when speaking about something specific, ask them more about that!
- Confidence comes from practice, so even if you’re not entirely confident when it comes to socializing, pretend you’re someone who is. Pretend you’re auditioning for the role of “confident person at the party”, and see what happens. You might surprise yourself!
So Remember, The Ladies and Gentleman’s Guide to Socializing is a simple yet effective way to improve your communication skills in all scenarios if done correctly!
As part of the Black Sheep family, we want to make sure that we all have the tools and resources to gain a return in our personal or professional lives, and generally our social lives do play a strong role in them. The Ladies and Gentleman’s Guide to Socializing was created to enhance not only your personal, but your professional lives. As Black Sheep, we must take it upon ourselves to seize every opportunity and not shy away from the possibilities. It is important to understand, that our potential is limitless once fear and limitations are removed from our path, from our success.
In the end, each of us have the power and potential to create what we want out of our lives. It wont be easy or clear at all times, but it will yield the answers your looking for. All in all, we hope you enjoyed this quick guide and tips to socializing. As always, here at Black Sheep Heritage, we strive to provide our fellow Black Sheep with valuable, ready to use tools to bring about large or small successes. Feel free to comment or contact us at any time to let us know what you think. Also, don’t miss out on our Exclusive Black Sheep gear before they run out. Cheers!