Hello, everyone!

Recently, one of my coworkers had a birthday and invited me to go out for drinks. I’m only twenty, but agreed to still go and hang out. I knew that a few people from my work would be there, but mostly it would be a group of new people I had never met. By the end of the night, one of my more socially shy friends was astounded that I had made friends with all ten people we had met that night. Surprisingly I am naturally an introvert, but I have learned how to socialize like an extrovert. I realized that a lot of people struggle in social situations and are unsure what exactly to do when meeting new people.

So here is a list of tips for those who may be a little shy and find it hard to interact with new people in social environments. Hope this may help!

1.) SMILE

I can’t stress this one enough! Smiling makes you seem approachable and positive. Also, a genuine smile releases oxytocin in your brain, and stimulates oxytocin in the receiver’s brain.
Oxytocin is sometimes called the “love drug” and is a hormone responsible for that feeling of bonding you get with positive social contact as well as the underlying foundation in trust. Smiling causes not only a potential friend to feel more comfortable, but you will feel better as well. When you smile at someone, the natural response will be for that person to smile back!

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2.) Compliments

Compliments are a great way to break the ice! I usually start by complimenting something physical in their appearance such as their hair or shoes (but be genuine!). The more I talk with them, I always try to follow up by complementing a personality trait they may have shown. I may say how funny they are, nice, or intelligent. Everyone enjoys a good compliment, especially if you can make it genuine and somewhat tailored for that person.

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3.) Ask Questions

I have learned that people generally like to talk about themselves. I do not mean this in an egotistical way (although, some people can be like that as well), but people enjoy talking about what fascinates and interests them. The trick is trying to figure this out. In college, I usually start with a basic question such as, what is their major (you could just as easily ask about their job, what their favorite class is/favorite teacher, or something else along those lines). Then I will say something like, “How interesting, why did you choose that?” Using “why” is probably the easiest follow up questions. The important thing is to try to be interested and ask engaging questions if possible. Another way I use questions to make friends in college is on the first day when I walk into a class, I’ll try to find someone who is kind of on their own and ask if the chair next to them is empty. About 99% of the time they will say yes, and I’ll smile and sit down. Then I may ask if they have bought the book yet or if they read the syllabus to start a conversation if I am feeling sociable.

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4.) Be Kind and Helpful

This one is also, bit self-explanatory but people usually appreciate those who are kind and helpful. If someone needs a pencil in class fill free to offer one. If a person drops something, pick it up and smile. In school, I would always bring gum and offer it to people. Small acts of kindness leave bigger impressions than you might guess. It is also another way to break the ice when around new people.

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5.) Imitate The People You Talk To

This may not seem as obvious as some of the above tips but it is a psychological tip that actually works. There is psychological phenomenon called the “Mirroring Effect” where people generally like others who mirror themselves. In other words, try to match the person’s facial expressions. If they smile, you smile; if they laugh you laugh and so on. There have been countless studies supporting the Mirroring Effect and I use it all the time. Also, when a person is speaking, encourage them with your body language. Occasionally nod or smile to let them know you are paying attention and actually care about what they are saying.

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6.) Act Like You Are Already Friends

Joke with people and tease them! Show off your personality and sense of humor! Laugh when you think someone is being funny or disagree (respectfully!) if they say something or like something that you do not care for. Do they have different Game Of Thrones opinions than yours? Pepsi person instead of Coke? It’s okay to playfully disagree with someone as long as you stay respectful and not take things too seriously (unless, of course, it is a more serious topic).

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7.) Use A Person’s Name

A person’s name is a huge part of their individuality and identity. When you remember someone’s name after meeting them, it makes them feel respected and more important. Even if you may have forgotten their name, it is okay to ask them what it is again. This at least shows that you are trying to get to know them better and also gives them the chance to ask for yours if they have forgotten as well. It is a great way to build a better connection with that person and leave a lasting impression.

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8.) Go Into A Conversation Loaded

One of the worse things about talking to people is when a conversation falls flat and you feel that awkward silence approaching. One thing that can help is to be prepared with different topics you can bring up. Try to read and stay up to day with what is happening in your close environment as well as what goes on a national and global scale. You don’t have to be a genius, but staying informed about prevalent issues will make you look more well-rounded and interesting. Also, it is a good confidence booster when you feel prepared and knowledgeable.

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9.) Wear Clothes You Feel Good In / Try to Dress For The Occasion

When you wear clothes you feel good in, it increases your confidence. Subtle differences occur in your behavior and people will want to hang around in your good vibes. Also, if you are in a new environment, your clothes will be just one less thing you may be worrying about.

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10.) Be In A Good Frame Of Mind BEFORE Going Out

Remember that you are an amazing and unique person! I read this one quote that said confidence is not walking into a room and believing everyone will like you. Real confidence is being okay if they don’t. Sometimes I am super nervous right before social situations and I literally will repeat this to myself. And if all else fails, fake it until you make it. This may seem like annoying advice, but it is a proven psychological fact. If you act confident or happy, you will eventually feel those emotions. Also, others will believe it as well. They don’t know how you really feel!

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Thanks For Reading!