Dear style & substance:
I am a shy person and really struggle with friendly chit-chat. In fact, I struggle with adult conversation. I long to have close friendships with other women, but seem to lack the ease with which they effortlessly chat. Even sitting at a sporting event causes me unease and is troublesome. Do you have some advice?
Just to set the record straight, even those who seem to be “oh-so conversational and carefree” struggle with social situations from time to time. You are not alone, but being shy really adds additional stress. An excellent strategy to use in any social setting is to introduce yourself and ask the listener about herself. Keep the conversation focused on the other person; your listener will feel flattered that you find her (or him) interesting and it is an easy way to find commonalities that gently lead to friendships.
Some women have lived and worked in the same place forever, so they have established friends and don’t realize that they are exclusive. They don’t even think to say ‘hello’ to a new comer. It may be your job to say hello and then just start taking it all in. It is very valuable to your long term well-being to ease into the social scene. Be your genuine self and be upbeat, people respond positively to positive people. Remember, if you do not make the first move, others may think you are stand-offish – be low key and friendly and people will respond in a kind and open manner.
Attending large meetings or events can make you feel like an outsider, but joining a work group or action committee within an organization; for example, a church, civic organization or school, can give you the forum to make friends while actually accomplishing something. It is especially good for more reserved people, as everyone needs to participate to accomplish a goal and there can be a lot of camaraderie in that! Join a group that is meaningful to you – this sounds like common sense, but this will give you more confidence to share your thoughts, ideas, and passions.