A small background
I’ve lived abroad for quite some time now (around 6 years) over those years I’ve come to accept the fact that most people lack some certain type of soft skills. For me, the most obvious one was socializing.
I’ve realized that I'm shy, not comfortable in groups or being the center of attention, and don't know how to make new friends or acquaintances. That was an issue for me because it stood in the way of my work and my career progression. In general, the more you know people at work or the more people know you, the better chance that you can market your skills. In my case, it was my technical coding skills that I wanted to market. So, for me to be recognized for my technical work, I’d have to be known first. It's just like food brand recognition, you’re familiar with it then you buy it.
Anyhow, I‘m not going to bore you with my life story. But, in short, this problem has led me to the following X steps to become better socialized.
Start individual conversations even if they scare you
Don’t be afraid to talk to someone outside of a group, it helps you create a better bond with someone and over time it will reduce the stress of being alone with someone or being the center of attention.
Come up with topics to talk about
Here’s a really easy way to start up conversations. start with any topic or let the other person talking start picking out words from the conversations and pin them.
Then take each of those words or the one that you remember and start with the one that comes to the top of your head which triggers an interesting topic usually.
let’s say the other person is saying:
A: dude! its been really long time we havent played football? hows your skills feeling rusty!
Now you pick up the main keywords from this. Which in this example are:
Now you have multiple options. Either you jump right away to your picked subject as a practice so you don't lose track of what you have in mind.
Later on, you can wrap up the open subject and then open your topic.
and don't feel bad to wrap it up. People usually start with something generic and they’re not attached to it just to start a conversation so no harm in closing that and opening something that might grow bigger.
Let's say you pick `football`, you can say something like:
B: oh that reminds me! did you see the game last night! Barcelona is going down lately! What's up with that!
Of course, while talking about football pick 1 or 2 keywords for the next subject to open if this one got closed fast or the other wasn't interested that much.
But keep 1 rule in mind! always keep the new subject a bit related to the previous one otherwise your just jumping with thoughts all over the place.
Emphasis on liking what you enjoy in the conversation
While the other person is talking it's really important to be enthusiastic about what the other person is talking about. Esp the things that he’s talking passionately about, this shows the other person that you’re interested in what they’re interested in as subconscious feeling. And that will let them be more comfortable talking to you more and more.
And It helps the other person feel important and his thoughts are useful and admirable by others which is a good thing to feel.
Bring up the right face
Make sure to bring up the right face with the right subject.
Don't be laughing while the other is clearly showing a bad mood, be sympathetic and sympathize by showing a face that tells the other person I feel you and this is a tough thing to feel.
If they’re happy don't come in with that frowned serious face! let go a bit, laugh. Smile at them just because they’re happy! it's an endless loop that makes everyone included in the conversation happier.
Contribute more to the group and be the center of attention
Try to be louder in a group, get everybody’s attention. it could be by laughing freely at a joke that you’ve enjoyed or an expression at a story been told “ Daaaaymn”.
Regardless of the way, try to put yourself as a center of attention over time this will help you be comfortable with being the center of attention and that will come in handy for example when you want to propose an idea without fearing that others are just listening to you!
- Feel free to do all of the above in an excessive way.
- Don't be afraid to experiment since the result will definitely make people forget about the process. They will even respect you for trying.
- You will make mistakes or be too much sometimes. that doesn't matter learn the skill first then moderate it.
- Your only way to be comfortable talking to people is by doing it more often.