Are you tongue tied every time you meet someone new? Are you the one in the corner speaking to the bartender or that one other shy person at the party? There are so many reasons for being shy. Sometimes we feel we aren’t good enough or smart enough and will say something stupid to embarrass ourselves or those with us. And unfortunately sometimes we got that idea from a parent or significant other.
Sometimes we literally can’t think of a thing to say and may be left in a circle of people talking and laughing and we say nothing. And when we do force ourselves to say something it is generally because we have a similar experience we want to share. And we may be thought of as being stuck up or only tied up in ourselves, when usually the truth is we just don’t know what else to say.
If I sound like I understand, it’s because I am that person. I’ve struggled my entire life to be comfortable around new people or a group of people. I found a drink helped a bit, but generally since I don’t drink much, that wasn’t much help. People didn’t believe me when I have told them how I felt because I seem so comfortable one on one with people I know, and I have acted for years, but acting on a stage as someone other than yourself with lines already written for you is hugely different from being yourself with nothing to say!
I have since discovered a couple of ideas that seem to work for me I’d like to share with you.
First – give this one a shot. Think of the person you just met as being your new best friend. How would you greet the person you really enjoy being around? Act that way. Be enthusiastic and warm and friendly. That will set the tone for anything else that happens.
Second – stop thinking about yourself – how you might say something stupid or embarrass yourself – and instead, be curious about the other person. Ask questions about them. Who are they and what are they like. Do they have a family and what kind of business are they in. What are their hobbies…so many choices! If they are new in town you can ask what they’ve been up to and if they have had a chance to see any sights. This works both individually or in a group.
For the second one, you need to be sure you aren’t firing questions at them like you are interrogating them. At first, since I’m so direct, I came off this way, so be aware!
Remember that the next person you meet could be your spouse, your best friend or a great business contact. You never know. Practice does make things easier!! So take the chance and speak up.