Do you fit in?
Last week I had the pleasure of attending a conference for entrepreneurs in Santa Barbara. It was a gorgeous setting, full of great content and opportunities to meet new people. Here is a picture.
I love humans. I really do. But, for some reason when you put a bunch of them all together and I’m expected to make casual conversation with people I don’t know – historically I’ve become shy. It doesn’t matter if it was a social party or a networking event, my mind would come up with all sorts of reasons why I don’t fit in. And, maybe I don’t, but what I’ve come to realize is that I’m likely the only one that noticed.
Here’s the thing – most people feel like they’re different than everyone else, for better or for worse. And we are so very uniquely special, as well as so much like everyone else. We actually share more similarities than differences. You can know for sure that if you’re thinking, feeling, doing it – someone else is too. This can be comforting, or disheartening, depending on the situation.
Don’t let terminal uniqueness kill your ability to connect. – Tweet it
If you ever have a hard time socializing or networking with people you don’t know, try these three things to melt your ice and get in all warm and fuzzy.
1. Before you go into the party, or conference room, or patio bar – shake it out. Literally. Jump up and down and shake your body for a few minutes.
This may feel like you really are a total freak, but I promise you if you get into your body and out of your mind immediately before, you’ll have a sense of ease in your interactions.
2. Remember that almost everyone else there has the same sort of uncomfortable feeling of not fitting in, and make it your mission to make them more at ease.
When you shift your focus from how you’re feeling, to how they’re feeling you move to a position of purpose and service.
3. Network or socialize like your shopping, not selling. There’s an energy of trying to market yourself, whether to potential friends or clients or partners, that’s push – convincing others that you are likable, skilled, honest and funny. This is a lot of pressure to put on yourself when meeting new people.
Instead, try having sincere curiosity about other people. What are they into? What is their business like? What makes them tick? How can you be a benefit to their life? This is the energy of pull, and not only will it allow you to be more relaxed in social situations, it will make you more memorable and likable to other people.
The next time you get social, do these things and then tell me how they work for you in the comments. I’d also love to hear from you about what you do to make networking a joy.
You totally fit in.
As the wife of a career military officer, then faculty dept. chair wife, I have attended more than my share of what I call “Command Performances.” Making small talk is a necessary evil, and I would like to think I am pretty good at drawing people out. My training as a nurse also was instrumental in giving me skills to keep conversation focused on the other person.
My experience is, though, that others are not skilled in art of conversation (“con” from the Latin, meaning “with”) and I am often subjected to self centered monologues. Just when I take a breath to say something, it starts up again. On the rare occasion when someone asks me what I do, and I reply casually that I paint and dye scarves and do art fairs, I am met with dead silence; I might just as well have announced I have leprosy! I would add that the latter experience usually does not happen within an art context, but a more social setting.
I look forward to hearing what other folks’ experiences are.
I hear you Caryl. I find that the best way to create an actual conversation (with back and forth) when this is happening is to try to relate something they are saying to my own life – sharing an experience, that they can relate to. This usually allows for them to start asking questions also and create a genuine connection, even if it’s just over a specific subject.
Share a link to your beautiful scarves! I’d love to see them!
LOVE this post! I am heading into a retreat this weekend of 60 women that I do not know and I am starting to feel the anxiety. I feel socially awkward and jittery and uncomfortable. And I know from experience most people who say I am bubbly, charming and confident. Good actress??!!
So I will definitely take this tips to heart and use them.
How was it Maria?
I hope that you enjoyed your time with these new women!
I totally understand what Briana says about the discomfort of mingling in a group of strangers. It has taken me many years to get more comfortable at doing it. However, I have reached the point of looking forward to it. The biggest change in that direction relates to Bri’s #3 — being more prepared to find out what others are doing and less concerned about explaining what I do. It’s really much more interesting and fun.
Not that everyone at such a gathering is interesting and fun, but many are. And it’s pretty easy to extricate oneself from the blowhards — just say you made a commitment to “talk to that person over there.” and he or she has to leave soon. Which is true — we all have to leave, most of us sooner than we expected. And the commitment can very well be to yourself, not necessarily to that other person.
Love this! You’re so smart.