Be Better at Parties - Smarter Living Guides - Deepstash
Be Better at Parties - Smarter Living Guides

Be Better at Parties - Smarter Living Guides

Curated from: nytimes.com

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The Arrival

The Arrival

There are steps you can take to make arriving at a party less stressful and more fulfilling.

One of the issues with parties, unless you’re the most gregarious of extroverts, is that feeling when you’re about to walk into one but don’t know a single person there. Or perhaps you’re only vaguely connected to the host, who will surely be busy hosting. How do you start a conversation at a party with a complete stranger or someone you barely know? What if you do something horribly wrong, requiring you to sever all relationships and perhaps even move to an entirely new town or galaxy?

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Define Your Purpose

Take a moment to identify, realistically, what your purpose is for going. Is it:

  • To make a business connection?
  • To meet a new friend?
  • To relax?
  • To have a good conversation?
  • To taste some new food or wine?

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The Outfit

The Outfit

Party prep should involve what you wear. Pick a tried-and-true outfit — whatever taps you into the best version of yourself, as opposed to something that makes you feel self-conscious or that you’ll be constantly adjusting.

Some people like to choose a great blouse or jacket or necklace, like a talisman. That’s powerful. Or imagine the person who would play you in a movie, and dress like that for a boost of confidence.

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What To Bring To The Party

The classic rule is to show up with something in hand. Nowadays, however, you don’t always need to show up with something for your good friends. If you feel more comfortable arriving with a bottle of wine or a token of your appreciation, by all means, go for it.

Remember that conversation is part of what you bring to any social event. 

I don’t walk into a party without two to three things to talk about. These topics can be anything that’s interesting to you at the moment, and you need not even talk about them — but they are there if you need them. 

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Arrive on Time, and Go Alone

Arrive on Time, and Go Alone

There’s the sense that we should arrive fashionably late and with a posse of friends, but in fact, the very best time to get there is right when the party starts — before everyone is ensconced in conversations and you find yourself in the position of having to work your way into established groups.

If you can bear it, go solo, and watch the other guests make a beeline toward you.

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DEBRA FINE

The person who walks in alone at a party, that’s the most approachable person.

DEBRA FINE

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Greetings

Getting past the initial hellos can itself be a juggernaut. Do you hug, shake hands or kiss on one cheek, or both, or three times, in the European style? What if you hate being touched? 

If something makes you uncomfortable, however, you can let the other person know by saying politely, “I’m not a big hugger,” or some version of that

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Time to Mingle

Time to Mingle

It’s time to start meeting your fellow partygoers and impressing them with your warm and witty repartee. But how do you do that?

You’ve arrived on time, by yourself or not, with a gift in hand or simply your presence as your present. You know what you want to accomplish, and you have conversational topics in the back pocket of your carefully selected outfit (which, by the way, makes you look like a million bucks). It's time to shine.

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Get Yourself A Job

If you feel intensely awkward about standing in the middle of the room and smiling, or actually approaching someone else — this really does work, the experts say, though it also sounds terrifying — you have alternatives. One thing that is really powerful is to have a job.

If you know the host, see if you can help serve drinks. You could also offer to help take coats, clear used glasses or open the door as people knock. 

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Do The Small Talk

Do The Small Talk

Although Americans tend to put down small talk as if it’s superficial, it’s actually very important.

It’s about negotiating relationships, as sometimes it leads to an ongoing relationship or even a romantic relationship. You hear, ‘We were at this party, the next thing we knew, we were talking until 2 a.m.’

The appetizer for any relationship. You don’t know where your next opportunity will be in life, in friendship, in romance, in meeting people. In most cases, the relationship started with small talk. Somebody had to say hello first. Most of us are afraid to say hello!

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Polite Conversation Starters

You could ask a question:

  • What do you do?
  • Been to any concerts lately?
  • Do you like that beer?
  • Did you take the train here?

Or give a compliment:

  • I like your hair.
  • That’s a cool shirt.
  • Congrats on that promotion.

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Be Genuine

Be Genuine

Whatever you do, _do _say hello, and be genuine.

If you’re the type who walks into a room and you don’t know what to say and you don’t say hello, never think they’re going to give you the benefit of the doubt. They’re going to think you’re avoiding them or a snob.

If you don’t remember someone’s name, go over and say: ‘I don’t remember your name. I feel like an idiot, can you remind me?’

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Introversion Vs. Social Anxiety

There’s a difference between being an introvert and having social anxiety. Introverts are a little quieter than the general population and feel it requires a lot of energy to keep a conversation going at a party.

Social anxiety, on the other hand, is a learned behavior often stemming from something traumatic.

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Being An Introvert

Being An Introvert

Before partying, ask yourself if you might have that feeling in this situation, and think about how you can prepare for that. (Having an extroverted pal along, or conversational topics to rely on, can help ease the pressure.)

Just because you tend toward introversion doesn’t mean you can’t be good at parties. It’s all about managing your energy if you’re an introvert.

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Getting Busy With The Phone

Phones complicate the equation, even though they feel like an escape.

You’re not making eye contact or noticing how people in the room are feeling, and you’re probably missing out on some really good conversations by staring at your screen, which you can do all you want when you get home. And if you practice being without your phone at parties, your capacity to empathize will get better. 

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Don't Be That Person: 3 Tiers of Good Conversation

Don't Be That Person: 3 Tiers of Good Conversation

Being a party guest is easy. Being a great party guest takes work.

  • Tier one is safe territory: sports, the weather, pop culture, local celebrities and any immediate shared experience.
  • Tier two is potentially controversial: religion, politics, dating and love lives. Test the waters, and back away if they’re not interested.
  • Tier three includes the most intimate topics: family and finance, buckets into health and work life.

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Be More Interested to Be More Interesting

Don’t head to a party with the intent of leaving everyone in stitches, unless perhaps you’re a professional comedian. Instead, Channel your inner Oprah. This is especially helpful advice for introverts.

Talking about yourself triggers the same pleasure sensation in the brain as food.

People would forgo money in order to talk about themselves.  You can use this to your advantage simply by listening. 

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Be A Conversation Superstar

Be A Conversation Superstar

Be attentive and give eye contact.

• Make active and engaged expressions.

• Repeat back what you’ve heard, and follow up with questions.

• If you notice something you want to say, don’t say it. Challenge it and go back to listening.

• For bonus points, wait an hour to bring up that thing you didn’t say earlier.

And keep in mind that when you say something declarative, seek out the other person’s opinion as well.

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Working the Room: Excusing Yourself

Mingling is an art, but remember what you're here for: to have fun and meet people.

You’re trapped in a conversation with a monologuer and you’re racking your brain trying to escape.

There are ways to excuse yourself. Say, ‘Oh, I just saw someone I haven’t seen in 10 years, it’s been so great to see you.’”

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A Trick To Get Out Of A Bad Conversation That Does Not End

A Trick To Get Out Of A Bad Conversation That Does Not End

You can use the white flag, as in car racing, to indicate “they have one more lap and then it’s over."

Acknowledge what you’ve heard — “Gosh, it sounds like you really have a passion for skiing,” and then give someone a warning that the conversation is almost over. For example: “I’ve only got a couple more minutes until I need to leave” (or get a drink, or talk to someone else, or head to the bathroom), “but before I leave, what would you say is the No. 1 ingredient to training as a skier?”

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Don't Double Down if You're Not Getting What You Want

One huge conversational mistake is not picking up clues about how other people are reacting to you. But keep in mind, we all have different conversational styles.

Be attuned to the signals others are sending. Some cultures have a high-involvement style, which means standing closer and offering more gestures and broad facial expressions; others have a high-considerate style, which means fewer broad gestures and facial expressions. If you’re experiencing a disconnect, it may simply be that you have different styles.

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Awkward Silences

Awkward Silences

One way to avoid them is to “assume the burden of the conversation,” One might use self-disclosure to change the topic, and say, ‘Golf isn’t my thing, but I really like to cycle.’ Or, if someone asks about something sad or bad, throw the conversational ball back and say, ‘I just can’t talk about that right now, but what’s going on in your life?’”

Pauses are natural and, if you wait it out, the other person might revive the conversation. You can also circle back to an earlier topic, but if you’ve reached the end, exit the conversation in a polite way.

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What To Do With Your Body

  • Keep up your posture.
  • Make eye contact
  • Open your body isn't of sitting cross-armed.
  • Smile.

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The Exit

The Exit

You're the hit of the party, and you've charmed your way into the hearts of all. Now stick the landing.

While you don’t want to make a big interruption, you should acknowledge the departure and thank your host. There are, of course, always exceptions, and you could follow up after the party to thank the host if the in-person goodbye simply can’t happen.

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Messing Up

Say you forget a name, or introduce yourself anew to someone you’ve already met, or spill your drink all over your host’s white carpeting?

Admit the predicament, apologize with sincerity and move on.

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Don't Have F.O.M.O.

Don't Have F.O.M.O.

Don't let the fear of missing out get you after you exit a party.

It’s just one party. There’s always another one around the corner. Reward yourself with Netflix or a bath or a pizza and the simple satisfaction that you survived. And maybe you even had fun, too?

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IDEAS CURATED BY

christinsm

Yoga instructor and Fitness instructor

CURATOR'S NOTE

An all-inclusive and practical guide to being great at parties.

Christine Smith's ideas are part of this journey:

How To Be Good at Parties

Learn more about personaldevelopment with this collection

How to network effectively

How to read body language

How to find common ground with others

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