If you feel awkward when meeting new people, I understand your pain! Talking to someone you’ve just met can be uncomfortable for introverts. Instead of being confident and engaging, you get in your head about what to say.
You think, “do they even want to talk to me?” as you scramble for topics to bring up. Your sense of discomfort grows as the person asks you about yourself. You wonder if they really want to know about your boring day job or if they’re just being polite.
As an introvert confidence coach, one of the most common concerns of my clients is meeting new people. They want to know how to overcome the awkwardness and have interesting conversations that flow naturally.
Of course, there are a lot of steps to become a great conversationalist. But when it comes to meeting new people, there are a few key tips that can quickly take you from self-conscious to self-confident.
Paradoxically, one of the fastest ways to feel more self-confident around new people is to forget yourself. In other words, you stop focusing on those pesky thoughts and worries about how you’re being perceived, and you start being more present and engaging.
If that sounds easier said than done, don’t worry. The below tips will have you easily connecting with new people in no time.
5 Tips to Be Less Awkward When Meeting New People
Make positive assumptions
If you’re a quiet introvert like me, you may be used to assuming that people don’t want to talk to you. Maybe you trail off mid-sentence because even you’ve lost interest in what you’re saying.
I know how easy it is to make these kinds of self-defeating assumptions. The good news is that it’s just as easy to make more positive, confidence-boosting assumptions.
Here are some things to get in the habit (yes, positive thoughts are a habit!) of assuming:
- They want to talk to me
- They are interested in what I have to say
- When they ask about me, they’re genuinely interested in the answer
It all comes down to self-trust. You choose to trust that you have something to offer. You also trust that most people are not judgmental jerks who want you to make a fool of yourself.
Other people want the same things you do: to be seen, heard, and accepted.
Add emotion to what you share
Have you ever been told that you’re “stoic” or “emotionless”. We introverts tend to keep our emotions under wraps— especially around new people.
The thing is, people don’t necessarily connect with what you say. They connect with the feeling behind what you say.
Let’s say you tell someone you’re going to Disneyland, but there’s no excitement in your voice. If you talk about it as if you’re listing off something on your to-do list, they’ll lose interest.
Instead, try to speak from the heart, rather than the mind. Ask yourself, “how do I feel about what I’m sharing?” And then express that feeling as you talk.
If you’re looking forward to an upcoming trip, feel that excitement as you talk about it. Being present in your body and journaling your emotions daily will help with this.
Reflect back their words AND feelings
Let’s face it, introverts are more likely to listen in conversation than talk a lot about ourselves. If that’s the case for you, make the most of it by becoming an amazing active listener.
You can do this by reflecting back what a person says and feels with a quick summary statement. Here are some examples:
- That sounds frustrating.
- Sounds like your day was hectic!
- I can see why you’d feel stressed.
- That’s so exciting!
Again, focusing on feelings will help you get out of your head and into meaningful conversations with new people.
Don’t rush to fill the void
Awkward silences might be the thing you fear most when meeting new people. But rushing to fill the void too quickly can lead to even more awkwardness.
Remember that small pauses in conversation are natural. Even extroverts need time to process and think about what they’ll share next. A little empty air space is nothing to panic about.
If you’re feeling uncomfortable with the silence, it may help to use a gesture, such as bringing your hand to your chin, to signify that you’re thinking.
You can also bridge the gap with a warm smile. While a forced, fake smile is never ideal, a sincere smile can turn an awkward silence into a moment of real connection.
Ask great questions
Questions can make or break a conversation. Thankfully, asking good questions is easy once you have a few good ones in your pocket.
Open-ended questions that begin with “what” or “how” are often best. Once you’ve covered the usual ice-breaker questions like “how do you know the host” and “how’s your night been so far?” you can ask some deepening questions.
Some of the best deepening questions zero in on what the person thinks and feels about their experiences.
- How do you feel about how the meeting went?
- What did you think about the movie?
- How did it feel to bungee jump for the first time?
- What do you think of this style of music?
Just remember to do a mix of questions, statements, and stories to avoid making it feel like an interrogation.
I share more tips for connecting with new people in my Introvert Connection Guide. Grab it for free here.
Also, please do share your experiences with meeting new people in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!