The Key to Sociability

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The Key to Sociability

by Niral Patel, State Parliamentarian

Have you ever faced the dilemma of wanting to talk to someone, but you feel too shy to actually take the initiative to start a conversation? Don’t worry. We have all been there. It is a common trait of humans to be afraid of taking any sort of step out of their comfort zone. Unfortunately, in the journey of developing yourself—especially to become a leader in your passion—you have to learn to love living outside of your feelings of comfortability. When it comes to socializing, there are many things you can do to become a better “connector” with others. This is a guide for everyone, whether you are introverted, extroverted, or a mix between the both.

The first step to becoming a more social person, and not feeling the fear of starting a conversation with somebody new, is to “trap” yourself into situations where you will have to talk to people. This may be through attending seminars, getting involved in your school, joining an organization, or simply going out to family events more often. Sometimes it is the small steps we take which help us beyond measures. By attending events where you can meet people you don’t usually talk to, the conversation may strike itself to you on its own. Use your opportunities to your advantage and put yourself in situations where you are most likely to talk to and meet new people.

The next key step into socializing is to learn to listen. You may have heard this several times before, whether directed at you, at others, or simply said by someone giving advice on a topic (perhaps the same one you are reading about). Learning how to listen to somebody is what can make you a better speaker yourself. When you are conversing with others, keep yourself silent and actually engage in what the person is talking about. Become conscious of what they are saying, and THEN you can worry about responding. People like speaking their mind, and they like when people listen to them. By opening your ears to what they are saying, you can find different points within a conversation that you can discuss.

Going off the previous step, you may now use what you heard in the conversation to your benefit. If you are no longer speaking on a topic and don’t know where to go next, bring up something that the other person mentioned. Often, when you think about what they are saying, there are several things you can mention and casually bring into a full-fledged conversation. Ask questions about what they mentioned. If, for example, you were having a conversation with someone whom you have never met about a school club, and they mention other clubs they also participate in, ask about their involvement in those clubs. Get them to talk about themselves as you listen. The more you know about them, the better you become at socializing.

A good note to remember when speaking to others is that you are trying to portray a positive image of yourself to them. You do not want them to associate your persona with negativity, so always try to keep your side of the conversation on a high, rather than a lower note. Say you started off the day on a bad note, with your car running out of gas, or your dog making a mess in your room. Although these may be easy topics to share a response, it is not necessarily the best way to keep a conversation going, or especially start one. Even when the other person is speaking on a negative topic, do everything in your power to bring the conversation to a higher note. You may not realize it, but by doing this you will change your image to be associated with happiness and positivity. You will make yourself a “magnet” for continued conversations.

Overall, there are several tips you can implement in regards to becoming a more social person. Keep in mind that you will never actually change yourself through knowledge until you actually apply it in the real world. This is the key. The true factor that will make you a sociable person is your ability to step outside your own comfort zone. It is as simple as that. I once read an article about a person who met a new stranger every day for an entire year. One of the biggest lessons I learned that article was this: fear is overrated. We allow fear to guide our lives when, quite frankly, it is within our own control. Understand this fact, and you can become the greatest leader of your own cause, let alone more social.

Maurice S. Henderson