How to Survive at a Party When You Don’t Know Anyone

Parties should be fun, not scary, but trying to strike up a conversation in a room full of strangers can be excruciating. Fear not, though: with the right tricks, you can not only survive, but also truly have fun.

We’ve told you how an introvert can survive at a party . But even extroverts have a hard time throwing a party if they don’t know anyone. How do you communicate? How do you fit in? For shy people, introverts or extroverts, this scenario can be a nightmare. It might not even be a party. This could be a seminar, networking event, or any other situation in which everyone seems to know someone other than you. Here are some tips and techniques to help reduce your anxiety and maybe even have some fun.

Offer to help the owner

This tip may not work at events, but at parties it is a lifesaver. Once you arrive, find a host and offer your help. It’s a polite gesture and gives you something to do. Even if the facilitator does not need help, he or she can sense your anxiety and give you an assignment to get you going. A good host will likely introduce you to several people as well, so you can start a conversation.

Ask for chopping vegetables, serving food on a plate, or playing bartender. It will keep you busy, without feeling awkward and distracted from stress.

The Thought Catalog also offers to bring what needs to be prepared . This automatically gives you the opportunity to do something on arrival. You shouldn’t spend all night making lasagna from scratch, but a little guacamole won’t keep you waiting long and it will give you the chance to unwind at the party. It might even be a good icebreaker; people may wonder what you brought. You can explain to them what it is, what you are doing and how they can do it themselves.

Don’t be afraid to admit that you are vulnerable.

When you arrive, it’s easy to grab a drink and go straight to a corner where you feel safe. But you might be surprised at how people react when you speak openly about your vulnerability instead.

Find another shy solitary guest and laugh at the fact that none of you know anyone. I tried this at an event recently: I found another guest who was alone, asked if she knew anyone, and we both confessed how overwhelmed we were. From that moment on, the conversation naturally continued. It was so much easier to communicate with other people because we did it together.

On the other hand, it may be easier to approach a social person. If you can find life with a company, chances are they will be willing to chat with you and introduce you to other people.

You can also search for groups of two:

if you see a couple talking, chances are they came together and know they should talk. Or they have just met and are deep down worried that they will end up talking to this person all night. (You just made it easier for one of them to exit.) Anyway, they are glad to see you. And your chances of a decent conversation are higher because you are now talking to two people, not just one.

This is the tactic we mentioned earlier and obviously your experience will be different. Everyone has different personalities, and the type of party or event can make a difference, too. Get a feel for the atmosphere, then find the strategy that works best for you: find a shy person, talk about the life of a party, or approach a couple.

Whatever you choose, it’s helpful to be open about the fact that you don’t know anyone. Other guests will usually be more inclined to include you. After all, this is a public event.

Try the “wait and hover” technique

It is sometimes difficult to get into a conversation. Bernardo J. Carducci of the Shyness Research Institute at Southeastern Indiana University recommends the Wait and Steam Technique. Sounds pretty obvious, but WebMD explains how it works :

Go to the periphery and listen. When there is a lull, take a break by elaborating on the topic or asking a question, rather than expressing your opinion right away. For example: “Were you robbed in Miami? It happened to me too! »What if you get an awful blank look? Be patient. Maybe they just need time to finish what they said.

This is another technique I tried out at a recent networking event where I didn’t know anyone. I hovered near a small art exhibit and waited for people to pass by and talk about it. When they did, I quietly intervened in the conversation. You feel a little creepy at first, so make sure your opinion comes naturally. For example, if someone said, “This is beautiful art,” and I turned around, looked them in the eye and said, “I also think this is beautiful,” it might be a little embarrassing. Instead, two women approached the display, joked about it, and I turned around, grinned, and we started a great conversation. Everything was very natural.

No art exhibition? Try something else. If you are helping the host prepare the meal, you may be able to interfere with nearby conversations. Do the same for drinks or snacks.

Brush up your speaking skills

We can all agree: small talk is boring. But this is also necessary. You usually don’t go from 0 to 70 with a stranger. To strike up a decent conversation, you need to speed up a little. You need an icebreaker. Here are some proven ways to break the ice:

  • Ask a question : This is an easy way to start a conversation, because an answer is needed. Make sure this is an open-ended question and cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. Or, if you can simply answer “yes” or “no” to it, make sure that it allows for follow-up.
  • Compliments : When you compliment someone, they often compliment you and this will help develop the conversation. You can also ask a question after the compliment. “Nice earrings. Where did you get them? “
  • Reason, Location : Use the Reason, Location rule to start a conversation. Ask about the occasion or location of the event. You probably don’t want to use the cliché “come here often?” But “have you ever been here?” can work. “How do you know the owner” is also always good.

For more specific opening statements, check out these 10 great conversation starters . Readers also shared some of their favorite icebreakers .

After that first icebreaker, it might be time to turn small talk to medium . Here’s how to do it:

  • Share the small details until one catches on : after you gauge each other’s interest with a little conversation, you’ll likely find that there is one topic that piques both of you a little more interest than others. Grab onto it and dive a little deeper.
  • Give concrete answers : A great way to spice up a conversation after the icebreaker cliché is to give a non-standard answer. For example, if someone asks, “What are you doing?” Give a specific answer. Maybe it’s a story about your job or an example of what you do day in and day out. If someone asks: “How do you know the owner?” You can tell a funny anecdote about how you met. This provides more room for conversation than expected: “We went to college together.”
  • Arm yourself with hot topics : whether it’s current events or just a fun background to an event, prepare yourself a couple of interesting topics and then find a way to weave them into the conversation.

After you have started a conversation, do not kill him . Here are some tips on how to prevent your chat from getting stale:

  • React to what the person says in the same vein as the comment was made: if he tells you a funny joke, respond lightly. This makes communication pleasant and pleasant.
  • Ask familiar questions : It is important to ask the right questions. You want to get to know the person you are talking to, but make sure the questions you ask are also relevant and relevant. Show a genuine interest in learning about this person.
  • Don’t dominate the conversation : This is probably an easy task for shy people, but sometimes it’s easy to get incoherent when you’re afraid of awkward silence. If the interlocutor hasn’t said anything for a long time, it’s time to stop and check yourself. If someone feels like they are having a one-way conversation, they are probably thinking about how to be saved.

Remember: you are not being paid attention to.

It’s hard not to feel uncomfortable when you’re alone in a social setting. But the more uncomfortable you feel, the more nervous you become. It helps to remember that you are not being noticed. Or, as Paid to Exist founder Jonathan Mead put it, ” Nobody cares, so do what you want .” In other words, stop worrying so much about other people and have a good time:

You come to the opening party of an event you wanted to attend all year. It’s like a big hell of a thing in your world. Maybe it’s the World Domination Summit or SXSW. However, you are anxious, nervous and completely shy. You are wondering what everyone will think of you. Maybe they’ll think you’re lame. Maybe they will find that you are not really an expert and are not entitled to teach what you teach. You will learn. Laughed at. Or, even worse, no one will talk to you at all. But have you noticed that everyone else is busy thinking about themselves? Suddenly you find yourself in a large room full of people who are worried about what everyone thinks of them, when in fact no one is thinking about anyone else at all.

As we mentioned, this is a truly liberating way of looking at a situation. This applies well to life in general, but it’s also great party advice.

Attending a party or event itself sounds intimidating, but it doesn’t have to. Prepare yourself in several ways to start a conversation and you should be fine. Once you find only one person to talk to, the whole situation becomes much easier. After a while, you may even forget how embarrassing you were.

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