You are at a party. You haven’t found anyone to talk to and, looking around the packed room, you can’t see anyone else who isn’t engaged in endless chattering. Shady thoughts sweep into your mind like a tide. What is wrong with me? Why don’t people want to talk to me? Why don’t I have anything funny or interesting to say?
You pull out your phone and check your messages despite knowing you have none, hoping people will think you’ve got some important socialising to do online.
Many find meeting new people, and being in big groups difficult. Like me, maybe you’re one of them – hiding out by the crisps and dip while calculating the location of your nearest exit. If so, you’re in good company. I asked Irina how someone would describe me if they caught a glimpse of me across a crowded room. Here response: ‘awkward’.
Talking to people I don’t know well and trying to be sociable when there are more than 4 people in the room, has been one of the things I’ve found most challenging in my adult life.
I’ve come up with a few things that help me a lot, and I thought I’d share them with you.
1) You are more special than you think
It’s difficult to be outgoing and talk to new people if you don’t really believe that you are worth talking to.
If no one has ever told you that you are amazing, let me be the first… ‘You are amazing.’
Don’t believe me? I hope at some point you will.
You are unbelievably special, a one of a kind. Because of the way you are put together, you’re like none other on the planet. This means that you have things to contribute to other people’s lives that they’ve never experienced before – good things.
The trouble is, you don’t really express these qualities if you’re consumed with self-loathing. But if you learn to like yourself, and stop wishing you were different, you will let them out like fireworks, and people will be drawn to you.
There is something so irresistible about authenticity. My favourite people, the ones I want to spend time with, are not trying to be something they’re not, but are comfortable with who they are. They may struggle to believe their worth from time to time, but they understand that they are on Earth for a purpose, which they can only achieve by being themselves.
If we want people to respect and like us, we have to respect and like ourselves first.
If you are able to do this, to enjoy being yourself, you will instantly find approaching and chatting to new people easier. Instead of being afraid of what they think of you, you’ll be thinking, why on earth wouldn’t they want to talk to me? I’m pretty special.
2) Push through fear
The reason you and I find it so hard to approach new people is because we are afraid of rejection. What will they think of me? This is often the loudest voice in our head.
Your value doesn’t have to be decided by others. Once you understand that you are amazing, it becomes less important what people think. If your view of yourself is based on the way people treat you or the things they do or don’t say, your self confidence will be about as stable as a bull on a tightrope.
It’s not easy to refuse being controlled by what we perceive people are thinking. It’s a constant battle, especially at first. But it’s one worth fighting; creating connections with other humans is essential for a happy life.
It’s also good to know you are not alone – it’s very likely that a large number of people in the room are feeling exactly the same as you – ambushed by fear of rejection, wondering why no one likes them and trying to make a good impression at all costs.
Humility is awesome. People tend to think it means putting yourself down or thinking you are less important. This is actually opposite to the true definition. By constantly thinking badly of ourselves, we are still at the centre of the picture. True humility is simply being less consumed by ourselves, but having a realistic view of our strengths and weaknesses, and not obsessing over them.
Life actually isn’t all about you or me. This may sound like a bummer, but it’s actually some of the best news we can hear. It means that we’re free from endlessly assessing whether people like us or not.
If you choose to be humble, you set yourself free – free from yourself and your own scrutiny of your every move. You become free to live. Your are released to focus on others, and their needs.
If you want to receive, you are going to have to give a little first. When you next find yourself struggling to engage with people, instead of feeling sorry for yourself, flip it around and think about how you could make the evening better for someone else in the room. We often want to talk to people who can give us something, like interesting conversation, a valuable contact or boosted social status.
It’s fun to instead find someone who doesn’t have anything to give you, someone who perhaps finds conversation difficult too. Ask them questions. Don’t interrogate, just show polite interest in their life. Show them you care about them.
Being humble means that you are not a victim. You don’t need to wait for people to meet your needs, you’re free to meet theirs first. You are the powerful one.
And this brings me onto my next point.
4) You have the power to give life or to take it
I would guess that some of the most significant, character-shaping moments in your life are associated with things people have said to you or about you. Words are unbelievably powerful – they can build people up or tear them down.
This gives me a lot of motivation to get over the fear and talk to people – because I actually have a purpose. I have the opportunity to literally change the course of people’s lives with my words. You could have a conversation with someone that could give them the courage they need to follow a dream or change a harmful habit. You could release them into their purpose, or at least brighten their day.
So, next time you are in an awkward social situation, just remember that you are not a feeble seal floundering in a sea foaming with tiger sharks. You are powerful, and have the ability to make good things happen in people’s lives.
I’d love it if you could share this if you found it helpful. Thanks so much, have the best day.