Have you ever noticed that people tend to gather in little groups? There you are at a wedding or a work event or your lunch hour, and without fail, tiny groups of three to five people will form and scatter themselves around the room, chatting.
And then you walk in.
What do you do? Do you decide to take bold action, jump into one of these groups, and start contributing to the discussion as your authentic self? Or do you have a mild panic attack, spiral into a fit about looking like a loser, and whip out your phone so that you can attempt to look very busy and important?
Most of us have predetermined back-up plans at the ready just in case we start to panic in social situations—we waste time in the bathroom . . . pretend to take a call . . . jump out the window—but there is a better way.
Today, we’re going to discuss social behavior and how to feel more relaxed and self-assured in group settings.
If you’d like to take a deeper dive into this subject, I highly recommend taking a glance through my website, SocialConfidenceCenter.com, where you can find several courses on confidence enhancement, including “Social Mastery,” which is a part of my program, Confidence University.
In the meantime, though, let’s dive right into this topic with three basic steps you can take to start boosting your group conversational skills, starting today!
Step One – Understand Your Value
One of the major problems we face as we enter into the situations listed above is that we assume that our presence will not add any value to the interaction.
If you really want to alter your mindset concerning intimate group conversations, you must begin to internalize the fact that your presence adds value.
You are an interesting person with valid thoughts and opinions. Your involvement will not detract from the conversation; it will not be unwelcome; it will not be judged to be offensive.
As someone who spent years of his life believing every negative thought above (and then some), I can tell you that these self-judgments seep into our subconscious mind and become a part of our core identity. In order to change that, you must begin to see yourself as valuable to society.
How do you make that shift?
Well, to start, you can begin to alter that deep-seated negativity with a simple, yet powerful mantra: “My presence adds value.”
Take a moment right now and consider how much value you would place on your presence in a conversation on a scale from one to ten. Most of the clients I ask to answer this question honestly say something around a five out of ten (and if they were being brutally honest, they’d probably value themselves even lower than that).
No matter what you want to accomplish from this confidence work—break free socially, get noticed at work, or make a better impression with the people you’re attracted to—you will not be successful unless you understand that you’re a ten.
If this prospect seems a bit outside the realm of reality at the moment, you might want to check out my book, On My Own Side, which is all about upgrading how you see yourself. It’s full of exercises and techniques to help you increase your core confidence, upgrade your identity, and learn to take that work into your social interactions.
Either way, you absolutely must increase your idea of self-worth—especially in social situations.
Another way I like to think of this is to say that my presence is a gift. Repeat these phrases to yourself on a regular basis at least once per day: “My presence adds value; my presence is a gift.”
Everything about the way you think is a pattern, and if you really want to change it, it’s going to take consistent, repetitive work.
Step Two – Jump In
Once you enter that room and see the small gatherings that have formed, you cannot hesitate—you must make a choice and dive into a grouping.
Why is the urgency of action so important? Because if you procrastinate in even the smallest way, you’re never going to do it. You’ll just continue to float around the room, letting your anxiety build, and before you know it, you’ll be under water with no chance of surfacing.
So, how do we dive right in with confidence?
When I think about these situations, I like to think of that bold action as actually being my way into the group: I’m not just some guy butting into the conversation—I’m that guy with the X-factor who has enough confidence to walk right up and introduce myself to new people.
I like to open with something like: “Hey everyone, I hate to interrupt, but I just wanted to introduce myself—I’m Aziz. How are you all doing? How do you know the host?”
When it comes to diving into conversations, questions are your greatest tool!
There’s no need to come up with anything complicated or contrived—just ask something as simple as, “What brings you all here today?” At that point, you’ve made yourself available for conversation, presented yourself positively as a comfortable and confident person, and asked a question to move the conversation forward.
The important thing to remember here is that your willingness to socialize actually makes the situation not just better for you, but also for everyone else around you.
Nobody likes to worry about the wallflower hovering in the corner—it’s uncomfortable, and it creates a weird energy, especially at traditionally social and joyous events.
This is why diving into social situations is such a huge part of my live events. Not only is it something you can benefit immensely from by practicing, but it’s also an incredibly essential aspect of social mastery.
Step Three – Internally Soothe Yourself
So, now you’ve owned your value, taken a chance, and dived into the conversation. You’ve been successful, and a great conversation is under way!
There’s just one problem: no matter how bold you’ve become or how fully you’ve upgraded your inner sense of value or how wonderfully the conversation is going, there is still a chance that there will be a moment in which you begin to panic internally:
– Oh, no, I don’t know anything about what they’re discussing . . .
– The only person I was really gelling with just walked away . . .
– They’re all looking at me, and I don’t know how to respond . . .
When these questionable internal monologues start replaying themselves over and over in your mind, the time has come to slow down, calm yourself, and do a little self-soothing.
Here’s the thing: you’re a good person. You don’t have to run away in shame every time you’re at a loss for words.
Believe it or not, it’s actually ok to let the conversation breathe. I’ve even seen more relaxed and self-assured people make a good-natured joke about a blatant lull in the conversation. It is not necessary for there to be constant overlapping dialogue, and it’s definitely not necessary for you to insert yourself into every single aspect of the group conversation—in fact, that would be a little obnoxious.
The important thing to remember is that you can always be the one who offers to steer the conversation in a new direction when necessary, and you can also be the one who allows someone else to do it.
Either way, when you notice those moments of panic, simply slow yourself down and remind yourself that the only thing you have to do is breathe, listen, and stay present. You don’t need to say anything, and you certainly don’t need to feel responsible for fixing anything.
Allow yourself the freedom to be silent once in a while. When you’re ready to jump back into the conversation, it will happen naturally.
Again, if you need a little more guidance on some of these steps, another great resource for strategic tips and social master courses is TheConfidenceUniversity.com. The more you practice, the more confident you will be, and these specialized courses offer the ideal tools and supportive settings for both practice and growth.
If nothing else inspires you, consider this: you have absolutely nothing to lose by taking this risk.
If there is one thing I know for sure, it is that everyone notices that guy at the party who sits on his phone all night and refuses to converse with anyone—and it’s not in a good way. This behavior is almost always viewed as rude and a sign of arrogance. So, don’t be that guy! If you’re going to bother showing up at the party, then show up boldly!
Simply focus on these three basic steps: understanding your value, jumping into the conversation, and internally self-soothing. With these tools at your disposal, you will have a foundation from which you can launch yourself into your ultimate social mastery journey!
As always, I ask that you please share your thoughts and questions in the comments below! What personal value level are you starting from right now? What are some qualities that make you a ten out of ten? What are some great conversation openers that have worked for you? Let’s share our tips and tricks with each other to encourage the greatest personal growth in one another.
Until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome.