How to be Comfortable Around New People

by Gerri Garrick

Walking into a room full of strangers can be overwhelming, yet everyone will have to do it at least a few times in their lives. You may have a big job interview coming up, or maybe you're meeting your new in-laws. Perhaps you are going to a party in which there will be many new faces. There is a way for you to feel comfortable, and who knows? You might actually have fun.

Step 1

Concentrate on making the situation an opportunity for you to give to others, rather than a big arena for people to judge you or even learn about you. Try to learn as much as you can about other people. Everything is not all about you, and when you put your focus on others, you will be surprised at how any nervousness or feelings of awkwardness will subside.

Step 2

Answer the questions that people ask you honestly, of course, but even while you're answering, try to keep your focus on the giving nature of what you are doing. You are giving information that people requested, not talking as a test of who you are. If you concentrate on giving the information, you might even show some passion behind your words, and people will naturally be interested. They might even be riveted!

Step 3

Pay attention to anyone who may seem left out or feeling uncomfortable themselves. Engage the left-out person in conversation by asking them a question about themselves. Of course, many people are shy, but again when you begin to think of the whole social experience as something you can do for others, eventually with focus, you can stop worrying about yourself, and the added benefit is that you will have helped other people in the process.

Step 4

Be yourself. You have probably heard this a thousand times, but in this case use it as advice to stop pretending you are someone else to impress people. Trying to be impressive nine times out of 10 will blow up in your face anyway. People can spot a phony person right away. If you are unemployed , you don't have to lead with that fact, but when asked about your work, answer honestly, and people will admire your humility. No one likes a know-it-all who has everything perfect in his life, because nobody has everything all together. Sometimes, shared difficulties actually bring people closer together. Once you open up, you can bet there will be others who can relate to your situation, or maybe even help. Either way, your realness will be appreciated.

Step 5

Be positive. If you are sharing something seemingly negative going on in your life, or about yourself, be sure to add a positive note, or that you are hopeful things will turn around. Even if you are not feeling very positive, you will likely feel better just having said the words. Everyone wants to be around a positive person, regardless of any difficulties they are facing. If your future father-in-law asks about your work, and you are unemployed, be sure to add that you intend to get work and are hopeful for the future. Your fiance will breath a sigh of relief! There is always a silver lining to be found, and perhaps someone at the party will even help you find it.

Step 6

Listen intently when people are talking, and don't just feign interest, actually BE interested. It's amazing how much more interesting other people become when you are putting all your energy into focusing on what they are saying, rather than worrying about what they think of you. You may actually have a good time! Plus, you will have something better to say than "What?" when asked to respond!

Tips

  • If someone is rude to you, or seems disinterested in you, don't take that as something you are doing wrong or as a signal to try and win them over. Remember that trying to impress never works. Being honest and real is key. Chances are the rude person is dealing with his own personality problems, and his behavior has nothing to do with you anyway, so don't worry about him.

Warnings

  • Don't be discouraged if you are not able to completely put your anxiety to rest about what people are thinking of you, or if because of this anxiety, you are unable to focus on others as much as you want to. This is natural. If you continue to practice, you will cultivate these social skills, and soon you will be looking forward to meeting new people!

About the Author

Gerri Garrick has been working as an actor/singer for the past eighteen years. A graduate of James Madison University, with a degree in communications, she has written several produced plays, as well as a one woman show. Garrick has been sharing her performing arts experience with eHow readers for the past year.