Going to a party can be a daunting prospect; a noisy room of new people, or worse, friends of friends whose names you can’t remember.
And it’s a problem that commonly occurs around Christmas time, from work parties to the in-laws’ Boxing Day ‘do’.
But don’t panic – we have a few tips to help even the shyest of people be a social success.
Before the party
Communication expert Lisa B Marshall suggests pushing yourself out of your comfort zone by talking to strangers on the way to the party, to warm-up before you arrive. Getting there early is also a good idea – after all, it’s a lot less daunting walking into an empty room than one where groups have already formed.
Read the body language of a group before you join them. ‘Are their palms up? Do they return eye contact? These signals are an invitation,’ says personal coach Kate Firth. When you’ve joined a group, mimic their body language; nod at the same time as them, and lean forward or back as they do.
Keep the conversation flowing
Have a couple of generic questions prepared. Marshall suggests something open-ended such as, ‘What do you do when you're not doing this?’, which gives the other person the choice of whether they want to talk about their professional or personal life.
If both of your neighbours are engaged in conversations with other people at a dinner party, try filling their glass and asking what they think of the wine. Involve the other person they're talking to as well, to spark up a discussion that you’re involved in, too.