Socialize Successfully: A Few Simple Tips to Help You During the Holiday Season
This Holiday Season you might very well find yourself at a party. It might be work related, a family gathering, a neighborhood friendly get together, or a function for a specific disability. In any event, here are some helpful hints for those among us who do not feel as “comfortable” in these social settings.
Have a happy heart. Expect that it is going to be a great party. Often times we can be our own worst enemy and jinx our evening before it even starts. Look at it this way: you’re out of the house!! Remember to smile and be approachable. Don’t stay huddled in the corner; people may think you are not approachable or in the mood to socialize. Body language speaks louder than words in these settings. I have found that the easiest thing for me to do is simply greet whomever answers the door to the event with a nice smile, a warm handshake and these simple words: Good evening, how are you? This does two direct things….First, it allows me to officially “break the ice” and engage someone and secondly, it allows me to see how the tone of the party is at that moment. If I’m greeted with a big “hey, how in the world are you?”, then I know that it is a more lively crowd. If I get the “wet fish” handshake and no real greeting…well, then I know my work is cut out for me, as well as for the party itself.
Seek & Find:
You may have to play “seek and find.” Actively seek out people to talk with. Yes, I realize that this is the single most intimidating aspect of going to a party. You are second guessing yourself constantly. Will they like me…what if they don’t….what can I say…I don’t know anyone here. We have all been in this situation. Here is a simple thought for you to remember: If you don’t start a conversation with someone, then you have a 100% chance of not meeting anyone. I can promise this: if you start to talk to someone, then each time after that, it will get easier and easier for you to walk up to someone and say “hello.” You might find that the added confidence that this simple act instills in you is carried over into other areas of your personal and professional life. You have all heard the expression “wow, he really came out of his shell”. I would be willing to bet that many others at the gathering feel the same way as you do, but, are also too afraid to make the first move.
I can hear it in your voice now: O.K. wise guy, now that I’ve said hello…..then what do I say? This part is also easier than you think. We are so, unfortunately, comfortable in our own little shells that we gladly accept less for ourselves. First, try to find something you may have in common with them. For women, it might be shoes or enjoying the same cocktail or hors d’oeuvres. For men, sports is a good start. Same goes for beer. If you look around and see that two other guys are drinking the same beer…you can jokingly say something like “hope you left some for me.” If you meet someone and notice an accent, one of the best ice breakers is “I noticed an accent, where were you born?” You might find that the accent is Southern, and she was born in Atlanta. Then you might have some understanding or experience in Atlanta yourself, and voila…a conversation is started. You simply never know until you try.
If the event you are attending is, in fact, a gathering of other parents of Special Needs children, make sure the conversation is not entirely about your special needs child. You might find that they are looking for a person to talk to about THEIR child as well. Again, a conversation is started and we never know where it might lead.
Remember to always ask open ended questions that allow others to talk about themselves. People love to talk about themeselves. Listen without interruption or rolling your eyes. One needs to listen carefully in order to ask appropriate questions. This is the basis for developing a good conversation and for the formulation of good impressions on both parts…. your AND theirs.
Mind your manners:
Good manners make a lasting impression, and politeness is always important. Treat others as you would like to be treated. The Golden Rule always applies. Remember to respect others personal space. There is an appropriate distance that should be in place when meeting someone for the first time. You have heard the expression: “keeping an arms length between you”. When you shake someones hand for the first time, you are “arms length” away from them. This is the appropriate distance when speaking. It allows for good tone of voice, it is non threatening, and it allows for no premature assumptions to be drawn. If someone immediately comes up to you and gets too close, the most common reaction is to start looking for the nearest exit door, If we can remember to simply be aware of this space, then we might have an additional advantage in getting to know someone. If you notice that someone starts to back up when you are speaking to them, then one of two things are happening: you might need a breathmint, or, more than likely, you might be a bit too close for comfort. Additionally, a very simple (but oh so hard habit to break) correction in how we answer people can make a very real, and big, impression on someone. Instead of “yea” and “nah”, try, yes, or no. More to the point, if you are speaking to someone who is older than you are, try yessir, or yesmaam. You will be shocked at your response. The “traditional” manners of our parents generations have, regrettably, gone away…lost, forgotten, or not deemed important to today’s generation. BUT, it never hurts to speak with respect to our elders.
Dress so you feel best:
Dress so you feel and look your best. Often times, you will actually feel better about yourself when you get a bit “dressy” for the evening. Remember to be comfortable. No “Spanx” rolling up for cutting off circulation or shoes that are too tight that make you feel like your little toe is being pinched. If you feel comfortable and confident, then you are more likely to BE more comfortable and confident.
- 4 Tips for Managing Parties and Social Gatherings this Summer
- The Birthday Gift
- 5 Tips to Help Your Child with Special Needs Make Friends
- When Is the Right Time to Transition from Your Home to a Group Home?
- Mental Health Is Not Something to Take for Granted: How to Manage Depression and Stress During the Holidays
This post originally appeared on our November/December 2011 Magazine