1. Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons
First thing’s first, there’s no right way to put yourself out there. It’s OK if you’re not into hitting the club every other night or accepting all those Facebook event invites.More than anything, you’re under no obligation to fulfill other people’s expectations, and this includes how you spend your time.
2. Start up a conversation
So, you’re ready to embark on opening yourself up a little more and making new friends. Maybe you’d like to learn the magical art of “small talk” or how to strike up a conversation at the next wedding you’re invited to.But how the heck do people do it?First, know that the person next to you probably feels the same way you do. According to professor Bernardo Carducci, who ran the Shyness Research Institute at Indiana University Southeast, around 40 percent of adults and teens identify as being shy.Having a few ice breakers on hand can be a great way to boost your confidence when approaching others. Luckily, most people love to talk about themselves, so this is a pretty foolproof starting point.
3. Be a good listener
We all like to feel seen and heard. One of the best and undervalued ways of connecting with others is by thoughtfully listening to what they have to say.You can practice active listening by being curious and seeking to understand where the other person is coming from.Avoid interrupting them mid-story or talking over them when they answer a question. Instead, offer your undivided attention and genuine interest.Try to ask follow-up questions where they feel natural to show that you’re listening carefully to what they’re saying.When listening, keep these questions in mind:What’s important to this person?What are they excited to share?What do they value?
4. Give compliments freely
When in doubt, say something kind. The right words at the right time can make someone’s day significantly better and also open the door to a conversation. Studies show that by doing so, we also increase our own life satisfaction.Telling a co-worker you enjoyed their presentation or letting someone know how much you like their shirt is a great way to connect. But make sure you’re being sincere to avoid appearing disingenuous.Here are a few steps for paying someone a compliment:Pay attention to what you genuinely like about a person so that you’ll really mean what you say.Don’t be obvious. Notice the small things that make someone unique so that your words stand out.Avoid platitudes or clichés. Don’t say the same thing to everyone or compliment their physical appearance. Instead, focus on personality qualities or quirks.
5. Get involved
If you’re ready to take a bigger step toward putting yourself out there, consider finding a hobby that is social, such as volunteering at a nonprofit. This is also a great way of giving back and being of service.Participating in activities you enjoy can help alleviate feelings of inadequacy when meeting new people, especially if you’ve just moved to a new community.Plus, you already know of at least one thing you’ll have in common with others there, whether that be a love of gardening, a soft spot for animals, or a passion for social justice.