How to be more confident when meeting new people? Ironically, we tend to ask ourselves these types of questions more and more as we get older. Remember how easy it was to make new friends on the playground as a child? If you find yourself nodding your head and wondering why meeting new people has become such a daunting experience as an adult, you’re not alone. Meeting new people can be a painful process for anyone as we can start to panic seconds before the initial hello and especially when conversations start to dwindle.
Shyness is a natural emotion that creeps up when you’re not sure how to act when attention is placed on you or how people will react to you. But you know what? According to findings published in Psychological Science, that person you just met likes you a lot more than you think they do. Research shows that you are your own worst critic. It is likely this act of self-monitoring that is inhibiting our social skills and not allowing us to pursue relationships with those who truly like us. So how do you get out of being shy? If you find meeting new people challenging, practicing these 7 tricks may help make social interactions easier and more pleasant:
Calm your nerves
Naturally, everyone feels a little anxious and stressed when meeting people for the first time because we want to make a good first impression. Take a moment to pause and breathe. Remember that the other party is probably just as nervous. Sometimes, the combination of ‘holding your head up, relaxing, and smiling’ is enough to set the pace for a smooth first meeting.
Put yourself out there
Practice makes perfect so don’t shy away from meeting people. If you stumble across an awkward moment, don’t beat yourself up about it. Learn from the experience and move forward.
Prep for the meet
To be able to strike up conversations with ease, it’s a good idea to do a bit of research on the person(s) you will be meeting. This isn’t possible in every situation save for work (or a matchmaking date) but knowing a little bit about the person or company they are from beforehand can help with talking points. Otherwise always be prepared to make a good first impression with the help of a good firm handshake, air-kiss, and a genuine-looking smile or a softened, friendly expression.
Hold the person’s gaze
Eye contact is a natural part of casual conversations as it displays interest and confidence. But there’s a fine line between what’s appropriate and creepy staring. In general, three to five seconds is an acceptable amount of time to maintain a gaze as any more can make the other person feel uncomfortable. During conversations, try practicing the 50/70 rule. It teaches you to maintain eye contact 50 percent of the time while talking and 70 percent of the time while listening. When listening be sure to nod to show that you are engaged in the convo. Additionally, when you do look away mid-conversation or when there’s silence, try to do it slowly as darting your eyes will give off the impression that you’re nervous.
Engage in small talk
You don’t have to launch into heavy or serious topics to make things interesting. Chatting about the weather, traffic, sports, coronavirus, or even that viral TikTok video is a great ice-breaker that will help take away any awkwardness. Also asking questions will help keep conversations flowing. Be careful not to ramble on just to fill up awkward silences. Instead, take turns to talk as well as listen. This back-and-forth pattern is key to a great conversation.
If you’re hunched over, you tend to feel more insecure. Correcting your posture by pulling yourself up to full height and rolling your shoulders back is a great way to help you not only look great but feel poised and assured at the same time.
Limit your hand gestures or being overly animated when speaking and try to hold off messing with your hair, rings, or watch as this gives off the impression of diffidence and discomfort. By gesticulating less, people will pay more attention when you do use your hands to emphasise a point.