Maybe you don't have social anxiety. Maybe you just hate people and would really rather stay at home with a good book or binge watch the eternal quarter-life crisis of Friends. Again. And if that is you, I get it. People can be mean, boring, pretentious, or in general just difficult to tolerate.
And social situations can be complicated. There's that how-to-dress thing, and that who-to-talk-to thing, and that why-didn't-anyone-tell-me-I-have-spinach-in-my-teeth thing. It's stressful.
But, for those of you who fantasize about lighting up the night and being the life of the party... if it weren't for that paralyzing fear of public humiliation. I'm going to give you some tricks of the trade. And for what it counts, I'm shy and socially awkward myself. However, I've been told this is more readily evident in my videos than in my blog posts. Because I wear a cape when I write. And you can't wear a cape when you are in public. Unless you are going to Comic-Con.
Anyway, back to you and your crippling fear of social rejection. I have a few tips that you can try on for size (you know, like a cape) the next time you get a notification for a get-together from one of those annoying naturally social types.
How to Work a Crowd- Or at Least Survive a Party
1) Thank the anxious part of yourself for caring. After all, that inner hermit probably just wants to protect you from unforeseen disaster. Like spinach in your teeth. For random example. It's never happened to me. I'm just saying that would be really horrible if it did. But it didn't.
2) Plan your escape. Before you even click the "I'm going" button, plan how you will handle potential panic moments. For example, you could keep your phone with you. When you need to leave, look at your phone, make a gently concerned face at it and say, "Excuse me" to anyone who is nearby. Do not wait for questions or responses from others. Head toward the door immediately. If you don't want to return, don't. You had a smooth and purposeful exit. If you catch your breath and want to rejoin the festivities, just strut back in. If anyone asks about your emergency exit, shrug it off with a nonchalant, "My sister/brother/babysitter/spouse couldn't find the microwave popcorn." Make it seem like you probably didn't need to take that call in the first place. And you're really needed by people who call you. This may lead to a discussion about how family members can't do anything for themselves- ugh! (Commiserating is a great for conversation.)
3) Set a time limit. Tell your host that you are excited to attend but will unfortunately only be able to stay until X o'clock. This provides you with the opportunity to participate- but in a manageable dose (aka, you remain in control of you- not the party, not the people, not your anxiety).
4) Get over yourself. I mean this in the nicest way, really. Take the focus off of yourself and your lack of charming personality, pathetic conversation skills and inability to coordinate an outfit, and become an interpersonal philanthropist for the next few hours. Help someone - or everyone- feel like the most interesting person in the room. All you have to do is be genuinely interested in other people's lives, hobbies, freaky dance moves or favorite restaurant. If interest just isn't there, fake it. You wanted to go to this dumb party, remember? Quit complaining. Focus on them. Inquiring minds want to know. You are the inquiring mind.
5) Ask a starter question like, "OMG! Who does your hair?" or "Cute shoes! Do you mind me asking where you got them?" Then respond to their answer with an acknowledgement and a follow up question .... For example... "I love that store! Have you ever been to Target?" except don't say Target. Everyone has been to Target so that would just sound dumb.
6) Use non-creepy eye contact. Eye contact should show interest, not interrogation or spell-casting. I've seen some people go from no eye contact whatsoever to burning a hole in the back of my head in an act of innocent over-correction. But it's still weird. Don't do it. Try this instead: Look into their eyes, then move your eyes around slightly and casually. Glance at their cheek or eyebrow then back to their eyes again. Look toward some other commotion in the room now and then. Oh, and try not to make your eyes dart around like you are watching a ping-pong tournament. And if they have a zit or a mole or something, don't stare at it. That's rude. But if they have spinach in their teeth, definitely tell them. What kind of a monster doesn't tell someone they have spinach in their teeth?
7) Watch your body language. You might do this because you don't know what to do with your body parts, but crossing your arms and putting your hands in your pockets are no-nos. We don't need to discuss jingling your keys in your pocket, do we? Instead, hold a drink in one hand and gently place your other hand on the other side of the cup. This keeps both hands exposed at all times- and leaves one hand readily available to shake another hand in introduction.
8) Know your limit. If alcohol will be served, don't use it as a method to introduce everyone to your outgoing alter ego, Tina the Tabletop Dancer or Jerry the Inappropriate Joke Teller. You may think the drunk you is funny or entertaining, but chances are you will end up a meme. Or perpetually uninvited. Or both. Probably both.
So there you have it, the secrets of becoming an amazing shindig master! Okay... tips for not totally freaking out and staying at home your whole life.
I wish you a reasonable amount of pleasant social interaction, my friends. Unless you are a true introvert. In that case, I wish you an empty calendar - M
Photo credits: WWE (Fun Fact- I share a birthday with The Rock)
Lady Gaga (if she can do it, so can you)
The Motley Ms.
Hi! My name is Melinda. I'm a saved-by-grace-er, lifelong learner, INFJ, health & fitness trynabe, Mom, #vanlifer, mental health vlogger, and Director & Clinical Supervisor at a Child & Family Therapy Practice in Northern California.
The Motley Ms
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