Connecting with people – especially when you can’t think of anything to say – is essential at work, school, and everywhere! These tips will help you be more outgoing, friendly, and “connectable” with everyone you meet.
“Thanks for your articles on what to say in hard situations,” says K. on How to Comfort a Friend Whose Mom Has Cancer. “My problem with being an introvert is that I struggle to connect with people. When I go to school I see my classmates, I really want to talk to them and make friends. I say “Hi” but after that, my head is always blank. I can’t think of anything to say. I don’t know how to make small talk. It always amazes me to see those extroverted people, they seem always can come up so many things to talk about while I always feel like I’m just a total blank…I don’t like to be introverted. I want to more outgoing. Is there any way to change?”
I’m not a big fan of trying to change who we are. Rather, I encourage people to accept their personality traits – especially if they’re introverted – and be who they are in their relationships.
And here are a few tips on connecting with coworkers, peers, and anyone you meet…
When You Can’t Think of Anything to Say
First, remember that who you are – the things that make you different – are the things you need to nurture and celebrate.
“If you have anything really valuable to contribute to the world, it will come through the expression of your own personality, that single spark of divinity that sets you off and makes you different from every other living creature.” ~ Bruce Barton.
I know it’s easier said than done, especially for introverts who are surrounded by extroverts. But it’s the best way to live, my friend. Be yourself, be authentic, be real. That’s what will make people like you, even when you can’t think of anything to say.
Remember that you are a likeable person
I had a job interview the other day, and my nervousness and anxiety evaporated every time I reminded myself of how much people like me. Not everyone likes me, of course, and I’m definitely not the most outgoing person on the block…but some people like me a lot. It also helped that someone told me that she liked me in an interview for a volunteer position, and that I have a husband and a couple of close friends who would bend over backwards for me.
When you feel socially awkward and stuck for something to say, take a deep breath and remember who loves you. Remember the friends, family members, coworkers, and peers who liked you in the past. Focus on your personality traits and strengths – you’ll feel and be more likeable.
Figure out who you are: shy/socially awkward? introverted? both?
“Introverts are apt to be quieter, which is often interpreted as shyness,” says Katharine Myers in Self-Promotion for Introverts: The Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead. “However, it may or may not be. Shyness has more to do with a lack of social skills. Introverts are more self-contained, which can seem shy.”
Maybe you have introverted personality traits or maybe you’re just shy. If you don’t know what an introvert is, take this Test for Introverted Personality Traits.
And if you’re shy…
Polish up your social skills
Learning how to make conversation is a natural skill for some people, and an acquired or learned skill for others. If you’re tongue-tied when you’re around people (you can’t think of anything to say), then it’s time to learn social skills! It’s as simple as that.
Here’s another book that will help you connect with people and be more outgoing: How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships.
Surround yourself with like-minded people
If you try to change who you are so people will like you, you will ultimately fail. For instance, if you pretend to love sports or Glee so you can talk to people about what they’re interested in (sports or Glee), then you have to force yourself to learn about sports or Glee. How long can you keep that up for? It’ll ultimately bore you to tears or drive you crazy.
The best way to connect with people and be more outgoing is to find like-minded souls. If you’re interested in reading books, then join a book club. If you love dancing, take salsa lessons. Then you’ll always have something to talk about, even when you can’t think of anything to say.
Focus on what you do well – your strengths and skills
Marcus Buckingham, career coach and author of Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance, encourages us to ignore your weaknesses and focus on your strengths.
“It’s ironic that your strengths can be so easy to overlook, because they’re clamoring for your attention in the most basic way,” says Buckingham, “Using them makes you feel strong. All you have to do is teach yourself to pay attention. Try to be conscious of yourself and how you feel as you’re completing your day-to-day tasks.”
It’s an upward spiral: the more you sharpen your skills, talents, and strengths, the more self-confidence you’ll have. The more confident you are, the more accepting you’ll be of yourself. The more you accept yourself, the more comfortable you’ll be with others – and the more they’ll like you.
Ideally, you need to find the balance between being who you are and knowing how to connect to people when you can’t think of anything to say. If you’re a social dolt, read How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less. It’ll help. It’s not about changing your personality traits – even though they’re inspired by a reader who asked me how to be less introverted and more outgoing.
For practical conversation starters and tips, read how to make small talk for introverts. It’ll help you connect with your coworkers and peers when you can’t think of anything to say.
May you trust yourself be authentic, know what you feel, and say what you think.