To some people, the worst thing that could ever happen is being trapped in a roomful of party-goers and forced to mingle with people one does not know. Being in unfamiliar settings triggers childhood and teenage anxieties about being left out, but remember: if you’re anxious at a party, you’re in good company. Learning how to mingle and make small talk will make make awkward parties and get-togethers much more comfortable. These skills can also help you with networking and making friends. Here are some tips for mingling:
Ask The Host To Introduce You
If you’re at a party hosted by a friend, ask the host to introduce you to a few people. This takes the pressure off of both you and them and will give you the safety net of having a few familiar faces as you make your way through the crowd.
How To Mingle: Have a Story
The person who tells the same story over and over again is a cliche. Don’t be this person! Instead, think about some relevant story you can share with new people that will strike a common cord. Pets, children, crazy bosses, and the mundane aspects of every day life like mowing the grass are generally safe bets. If you’ve had a funny run in with your lawnmower, an endearing interaction with a child, or a great animal story lately, these can be crowd-pleasers.
How To Mingle: Brush Up on the News
Before going to a party, it’s helpful if you know what’s going on in sports and in the news. Stick to safe topics like the weather and natural disasters as opposed to political hot button issues, and you’ll have something intelligent and nonoffensive to say to common conversational topics.
How To Mingle: Find Common Ground
No matter how different the people at a party seem to be from you, you can bet you have something in common with at least a few of them. Maybe you went to the same college, have the same favorite book, or have worked in the same fields. Listen to what people say and find common ground. You can make a new best friend just talking about your college sports team!
How To Mingle: Thrive on the Awkwardness
If you’re trapped in a corner with someone you don’t know, debating whether or not to introduce yourself, a great icebreaker can always be discussing the awkwardness of meeting new people, since this is an almost near-universal anxiety.
How To Mingle: Focus on People’s Favorite Topics
Everyone loves talking about themselves, and the people who are most likely to be regarded as great conversationalists are often the people who don’t share much about themselves. Instead, ask about someone’s occupation, interests, children, and family. People love talking about themselves and once you’ve gotten someone to open up, you’ll have a safe acquaintance for the rest of the party.
How to Mingle: Learn Something
If you go into an unfamiliar situation resolving to learn something, you’ll be a better conversationalist. Try to learn something from each new person you meet- a book recommendation, a bizarre factoid, information about an occupation. You can make this into a game, and the things you learn will give you more things to mingle with people about in the future!