Do you feel uncomfortable or anxious in social situations?
Do you sometimes wish you were invisible and no one could see you standing alone?
Do you find yourself hanging around in a bathroom cubicle waiting for time to pass?
Are you unsure on how to put yourself out there to meet new people?
Being able to Join a Group is a skill that you will need for your entire life. These are some quick examples:
- Attending a friend’s party where you don’t know many people
- Meeting other parents at your child’s parent-teacher meetings
- Joining groups at networking events
- Attending a company function
- Kids joining groups at a new school
If you think that you’re doomed to a life of social exclusion because you’ve never quite been confident enough to walk up to a stranger and spark up a conversation. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. You’d be surprised to know that feeling socially awkward in a room full of strangers is a natural part of life, in fact 3 out of 4 people feel exactly the same way as you.
The good news is that you don’t have to change your personality, you simply need to learn the quick and easy steps to joining groups without stress or fuss.
Look for Open Groups or a Space to Join
Find a group that is standing with a notable distance between them so that you have easy access into the group.
People standing very close together indicate that they are not open to others joining and are most likely discussing something private. Whereas space between people sends out a subconscious message that the group is open to new people joining.
Quick tip: Psychological research has found that approaching people from behind startles them and immediately puts them into a defensive mode. Try to approach from a side where there is a big enough space to join and make eye contact with one of the members of the group whilst approaching.
Wait to be noticed
Once you’ve found an open group, avoid interrupting with, “Hi everyone, my name is ………,” rather wait to be noticed. This goes as follows: stand in a position in the group where everyone can see you with ease, do not interrupt their conversation, once the group stops speaking to look at you, you begin speaking.
Note: this should happen within 8 seconds of joining the group, if they don’t notice you then feel free to speak up, and announce your entry with a salutation, ‘Hello!’
Ask to join
Once you’ve been noticed with your salutation, ask the group, ‘May I join you?’ This is very important.
After the group has given you permission to join, the easiest part is introducing yourself. If the group is four people or less, move around the group introducing yourself and shaking hands with each person, remembering to make eye contact for at least two to three seconds. If it is more than four people, you don’t want to hold up the conversation by going around shaking the hands of ten people. In that situation rather just introduce yourself out loud to the group and let them continue the conversation.
Joining the conversation
Once you have introduced yourself to the group, it is very likely they will continue the topic of conversation. Don’t stand on the sidelines at this pivotal stage, it is perfectly acceptable to ask the topic? ‘What subject are you speaking about?’ If there is no topic, simply ask a question related to the surroundings: ‘How do you know the host?’ ‘Do you have any other children at the school?’ etc.
Note: if a group is socially skilled they should naturally let you know what they were discussing before they carry on, so as not to exclude you.
Standing alone in a corner is not an option, you look and feel uncomfortable and other people feel like they’re being watched which can be a little creepy and uncomfortable. Get confident with the steps above and you’ll never get stuck in the awkward corner again. It takes some bravery to make that first move and join a group of strangers but once you master this easy skill, you’ll be set for life.