I freeze at the thought of having to attend holiday parties, but I know it is good for me to get out and about. I’m excruciatingly shy. To loosen up and become friendly I need a couple of glasses of wine. At least two. Can you give me some tips on how I can be less shy and socialize more easily at a party without having to get high first in order to make conversation?
–AW, East Greenwich, RI
- Start by saying something positive to a person of interest about the party, host, music, or food. Then introduce yourself: This is cool space for a party. By the way, I'm Zoe Brown. As you offer to shake his hand while he introduces himself as Earl Grey. Repeating his name and yours helps you both learn the other's name.
- Carry on with inquisitive open-ended questions: Is Earl Grey your name for real or are you putting me on? Earl Grey is my favorite tea. How did you come to be named after a tea?
- Everyone wants to be appreciated. So, ask a favor: Will you walk with me to the bar to get a drink? (Or, Let's find something to eat in the other room?) The favor draws him into spending more time with you.
- Be curious and ask more questions: How do you know our host, Tom? His answer may provide a conversational opening.
- If not, make a broad statement: This California wine is quite excellent. Making such a declaration will encourage him to respond with his opinions about wines.
- You look great for your age. --Instead simply say: You look great.
- You look tired. --Instead say: What have you been up to?
- You’ve lost weight. --Translated loosely, referencing your body size - even if it is flattering - is a turn-off. --Instead say: You look great.
- When is your baby due? --Unless you know for sure that she’s pregnant, don’t assume that because she has gained weight that she is in fact pregnant. Don't even go there.
- Have you found a job yet? --Simply say: What's going on in your life?
- How is your illness? --Merely ask: How are you doing?
- Are you divorced yet? --Again, don't even go there.
- You always forget my name. --If he always forgets your name, simply introduce yourself to help him learn it.
- You were always too good for him anyway. --Instead say: It's his loss.
- You never remember that we’ve met several times before. --Simply introduce yourself again and again until it sticks.
- There is always a reason for everything. --When you know someone close to the person died, simply say: I'm so sorry for your loss.
- Optimistic and open-minded
- Curious about the other person
- Interested in learning something new
- Fun to be with