Inadequate Preparation

journey photoSocially active people turn up ready to have a good time when they attend a social event, they dress well, have plenty to talk about and they are in a good state of mind for meeting people. This is often the complete opposite of what socially awkward people do, they just turn up and hope for the best and then wonder why they get stuck for words. It doesn’t have to be like this.

Lack of conversation topics

A lot of what we have covered already leads us to the obvious but overlooked conclusion that quiet people get less practice meeting people and often turn up unprepared to discuss a wide range of topic with the people they do end up talking to. And this is why I stressed the importance earlier of taking a different view of what a conversation is about – making conversation with someone you don’t know is all about discovering if this person is a good match, a potential long term friend. With this in mind you need to prepare for conversation before the social event rather than hoping to wing it when you’re tense and nervous at the gathering.

Professionals are known for putting the time in when it comes to preparation, a dancer will practice for months for a two hour performance; an actor will memorize lines and rehearse for months before appearing on stage. When you see the stars perform in front of the camera it looks like magic, they are so talented, they just turn up and dazzle everyone with their performance. What you don’t see is the dedication to practice and the dedication to extensive and comprehensive preparation before a big event.

There is a lesson in this for all of us, to improve and to excel we need to practice and we must prepare before the pressure of the moment kicks in. If you’ll make a point of having a ready supply of current topic to discuss and if you’ll practice at home before you go out to socialize you’ll get better and better over time.

Do you often find yourself on the spot with no idea of what to talk about? Could you make a point of being current on a wide range of topics? Could you decide to always prepare before going to a social gathering?

Unprepared for meeting people

If you turn up at a gathering and hope for the best it is much more stressful than turning up knowing what to expect. If you are often nervous about social events, you could research the event beforehand. Find out what the venue looks like and as much as possible about the show, performance or event. The more informed you are the more you’ll know what to expect and the less anxiety you’ll have about walking into the unknown.

It’s also good to anticipate the crowd you’ll be part of. Consider who you know who is attending: friends, friends of friends and the type of people you’ll meet. This information will then guide your preparation so you’ll have interesting and suitable conversation topics to lead with. The more you prepare by removing uncertainty and doubt about the kind of people you’ll meet the more comfortable you’ll be about meeting people.

Do you usually worry about meeting people at social events? Do you feel out of control of what will happen? Could you decide to be aware of who and what kind of people you’ll meet before going to an event? What do they like to talk about?

Poor dress sense

While we have focused on attitude and interactions so far it is important to mention how important it is to dress appropriately and well when meeting people. Although we might sometimes forget, the clothes you wear affect how you feel about yourself and can boost or lower your self-confidence. We’ve all had the experience of wearing an item of clothing we absolutely love and feeling fantastic every time we wear it.

When it comes to how you dress you want to make it your goal to look your best and feel at your best. You want to avoid wearing anything that makes you feel self-conscious because of the fit or the unflattering nature of the garment. Instead, over time fill your wardrobe with clothes that suit you and boost your confidence.

Dressing well also has other benefits. You’ll receive compliments from people you meet, your posture will be better and people will take you more seriously. You’ll be listened to more and your opinion respected more simply because you dress well. For these reasons its important not to take for granted the importance of dressing for conversation success.

Do you often dress for comfort rather than to make a good impression? Do you neglect to dress in a way that boosts your confidence? Could you include dressing well as part of your preparation for successful socializing?

Physical comfort overlooked

Meeting new people can be stressful enough so we want to do everything we can to minimize other stressors that add to our nerves and worries about socializing. Consequently it’s advisable to eat well, get sufficient rest and avoid last minute rushing when you have an important and imminent social function to attend.

You want to be physically strong and mentally calm, that way you can focus on conversation without the extra nerves that a tired body can add to the mix. If you enjoy exercise, working out is a great way to stimulate and then relax your body while giving you a calm mind. Staying fit and healthy will give you the energy you need to enjoy socializing, to be completely present with people and the mental flexibility to adapt to a wide variety of people and topics.

For people who practice meditation, meditating is one of the best ways to calm your mind before getting involved in a situation that involves some stress. Even twenty minutes of meditation before meeting people will dramatically reduce the tension you feel and give you the mental clarity to enjoy the moment instead of over thinking all the things that could go wrong.

Do you get anxious and nervous when meeting people? Do you tend to overlook the role the body has in raising or lowering situational stress? Could you in future get your body on your side to ensure greater self-confidence and less nerves?

We’ve now reached the end of this breakdown of the ten negative habits that limit conversation skills. Make sure to read through this section again and devise a plan of action to make changes in those areas where you have scope for improvement. Aim for gradual but consistent progress and you’ll surprise yourself at how quickly your conversation skills will improve. In fact, the very next section will help you to ensure steady progress.