Step Away From You Screens: Tips To Get Comfortable Talking To Other People
For an introvert, working in an office where you’re expected to socialize with other people may be the closest thing to hell you’ll ever experience. Unfortunately, for many of us, learning how to get along with people can mean the difference between success and failure. Here are a few tips to help introverts get more comfortable talking to other people.
This is probably everyone’s nightmare, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert — you show up at a social event or walk into an office full of socializing friends and find you don’t have anything to talk about. You’re reduced to talking about the weather and making comments about the local sports teams.
You don’t need to have detailed notes for every conversation you have during a social situation, but if you know you’re going to be talking to people, consider preparing some talking points beforehand.
- Work-related topics — current projects, upcoming clients, etc. Not everyone wants to talk about work all the time, but it does give you common ground to start a discussion.
- A local attraction — Is there a new restaurant or attraction you’re interested in, but haven’t had the chance to check out yet? Make it a conversation topic!
- Ask questions — Have a few questions handy to ask if the conversation starts to fall off. People love to talk about themselves, after all.
- Any other topics you can think of — You know your situation best, after all. Prepare some questions specifically for the people you know will be there. Does a colleague have a new pet or a new baby on the way? There’s no better way to start a chat than getting people to talk about themselves.
Don’t worry if the conversation starts to slow down — enjoy the break before it picks up again!
It’s tempting to revert to forms of communication like text, chat, and email that don’t require meeting someone face to face, but it’s not always possible, and it can actually be detrimental.
First, it’s prone to misunderstanding. You can’t convey tone or mood effectively with text-based communication. Even adding a smiley face to the end of a sentence can be misunderstood as sarcasm or being unprofessional.
Face-to-face communication, on the other hand, has been found to help reduce the risk of depression.
Face-to-face communication is more effective in professional situations, even if all you’re doing is gossiping around the water cooler.
Don’t Go Alone
As an introvert, you’ve probably already identified friends you can be around without needing to take a break and recharge. They don’t drain your introvert batteries, so to speak. If you find yourself in a social situation, make sure you’re not there alone. One of these friends can be invaluable in a busy social situation — even if you’re having a great conversation, having somewhere or someone you can retreat to can be essential.
Your entire team is getting together for happy hour or at the local bowling alley and has invited you along, so you’re obligated to go, right?
One of the hardest parts of learning how to talk to people successfully is learning when to say no. You might be afraid of missing out on whatever experiences these get-togethers offer, but you know you’ll be exhausted by the end of it and probably won’t be able to enjoy yourself.
Even if you’ve already said you’ll try to make an appearance at one of these events, it’s OK to beg off with an excuse, or just say you’re not coming.
Talking to people face to face is a skill you will practice throughout your entire life, both in work and social situations. While you may never perfect this skill, taking the time to learn how to talk to people as an introvert is something you should focus on for improved mental health and success at work.
Kayla Matthews is a self-improvement writer contributing to publications like The Daily Muse, MakeUseOf, Lifehack and The Huffington Post. To read more professional development posts from Kayla, check out her blog, Productivity Theory.
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