When it comes to meeting people it is extremely important to ensure you feel at your best however there are a number of negative habits that can make this difficult to achieve.
Expecting the worst
What’s the biggest difference between someone with an active social life and someone who dreads heading out in the evening to meet people? Often, it’s a big difference in expectations. The outgoing and sociable person looks forward to the event, thinks about what she’s going to wear, talks to her friends about the upcoming event and expects to have a great time, she can hardly wait.
On the other hand, the quiet person who often avoids social gatherings dreads the prospect of the upcoming event, doesn’t mention it to anyone except to complain about the inconvenience and expects to have an unpleasant time surrounded by people she doesn’t really want to talk to.
Clearly, the biggest difference is one of attitude. The same event will be approached and dealt with in two very different ways by someone who looks forward to it and by someone who dreads it. Often, where it’s an option, it’s better to skip events you don’t want to attend but don’t pretend you don’t want to go because of fear. If fear is the issue it will not go away and may even get worse if you don’t improve your social skills by practicing.
One useful way of preparing is by deciding to find ways to enjoy the event. Who would you like to meet? Any particular people or types of people? Is there anything you’d enjoy experiencing, learning or discussing?
Replaying past failures
This is the ultimate way to convince yourself you have poor social skills and that you’ll never be any good at dealing with people. In fact, replaying past social failures again and again is the perfect formula for cultivating a fear of embarrassment and an all-round self-consciousness that takes control of your life.
This is the opposite of what socially confident people do, they habitually replay successful encounters and operate from the belief that they have excellent social skills. They play down failures and mistakes as minor and inconsequential, they learn from them but don’t dwell on them.
All you can do about past failures is look at them objectively and ask yourself: what will you do differently in the future? Decide to learn from those experiences and then let go of the self-punishment which is helping no one but keeping you apart from people who would enjoy getting to know you.
Do you tend to replay past social failures with attached emotions? Could you decide to learn from the past and let go of the utterly pointless self-punishment? What will you do differently in similar situations in the future?
No exit plan
In any social interaction you need an exit plan, you need to know when and how to end the conversation and make a polite exit. Often, socially nervous people neglect this and so when there is a lull in the conversation or the conversation has reached a natural conclusion they force the conversation, get anxious and wonder why they have such poor conversation skills when in fact they were doing very well until they got to that point.
It takes tremendous pressure off your shoulders when you know you can approach someone and talk for a few minutes to see if you have a good match and if you don’t it’s perfectly acceptable to move on and talk to someone else. Some people don’t look at it like this and think if they approach someone and don’t have an engaging 40 minute conversation they have failed to be accepted and liked. This is a recipe for fear of rejection, fear of failure and self-consciousness.
Do what confident socially active people do, talk to a whole range of people and accept that some interactions are short, some are long, and all you can do is chat and look for good matches. This outlook changes everything, it means you never again have to worry about getting stuck in a boring, dead end conversation and you never have to stand there feeling awkward wishing you could disappear into the floor. Instead, you can be the director of your own social life – choose who to talk to, how long to talk and what to talk about. The key is deciding upfront you have an exit and being ready to use it.
Do you tend to get stuck in dull conversations and wish there was a way out? Do you often let the other party end the conversation and hope it’ll end soon? Could you instead know your exit and use it whenever you choose to?
Lack of motion
Standing or sitting in one place for the duration of a social event is a typical habit of a quiet person. He’ll get comfortable in one spot and refuse to move around the room because he feels safe and unthreatened in his corner of the room. He then hopes he’ll meet someone interesting who will take charge of the conversation and let him off the hook so he won’t have to initiate conversations with anyone else for the duration of the event.
The big challenge with this approach is that you’re hoping and waiting for things to work out and not taking charge so you’ll often end up stuck with someone who won’t stop talking or you’ll end up alone and bored making small talk with whoever is nearby merely out of convenience not because you have a good match.
This is not what socially successful people do. Instead they circulate, they move around the venue for the duration of the event, they scan the group and look for good matches, they then approach those people and make light conversation. If the conversation goes deeper and longer they soak it up, if not, they move on and talk to someone else. They actively avoid parts of the room where people appear bored, lifeless and disinterested. In other words, they proactively go to the people most likely to engage in an enjoyable conversation.
So, you can see why selecting the right people to talk to is more important than having something to talk about – you can bring a horse to water but you can’t make him drink! Do you tend to camp out in one location when you socialize?
Do you now see how that limits the ease and success you’ll have finding good matches for free flowing conversation? Could you in future circulate more and focus on meeting good matches for conversations?