Be the life of the party with these tips
Do you dread making small talk with strangers around the canapé tray? Relax! These five strategies will help you work a room - no worries.
Step 1: Be your own best friend ‘Before you leave home, look yourself in the eye in a mirror and set your intention that although you may not know many people, you do know yourself, and that’s the best company you can have,’ says Dr Cecilia d’Felice, psychologist and author of 21 Days To A New You (Orion).
‘As you walk into the room, take three deep breaths, breathing in courage and breathing out friendliness with each one. Then say “hello” to the first person or group of people that you meet.’
Step 2: Set yourself a goal ‘Set yourself a mental challenge to meet at least one new person, and give yourself an incentive to do so, such as treating yourself to that designer bag you’ve been coveting,’ says psychotherapist Dr Sheri Jacobson.
If you feel crippled by shyness, psychologist Helen Nightingale suggests a bit of play acting: ‘If you don't feel confident, think of someone you’d love to be more like and pretend you’re her for a day.’
Step 3: Take the 18/40/60 approach If you’re fretting over everything from making small talk to what people might think of your dress, stop.
‘Adopt the 18/40/60 rule,’ suggests Dr Daniel Amen, author of Change Your Brain Change Your Life (Piatkus). ‘When you’re 18 you worry what everyone’s thinking of you. When you’re 40, you don’t give a damn what everyone’s thinking about you. When you’re 60 you realise no one’s been thinking about you at all!’
It’s much more helpful to turn your attention onto others. ‘Think about the fact that they might be just as self-conscious as you – most people feel a bit uneasy meeting new people.’
Step 4: Stand tall and smile How you stand or sit will have an effect on your mood – and confidence. According to research in the Journal Of Experimental Social Psychology, if you stand tall you’ll feel more confident, so draw in those core muscles and pull yourself out of a slouch.
Don’t be afraid to take up space, too – the same research showed that men and women who stood with their feet wider apart had increased levels of testosterone, and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Finally, plaster a smile on your face, advises Zest’s psychologist Emma Kenny.
‘It’s a physiological fact that faking a smile is as effective as feeling one – the muscles you use signal the brain to release lots of happy chemicals that positively affect your mood. Also, smiling gets positive responses from other humans, and this positive reinforcement makes our presence in the world feel greater,’ she says.
Step 5: Downsize your drinking ‘Dutch courage rather ignores the courage you’ve already demonstrated in having got yourself out there into the world in the first place,’ says Dr d’Felice. ‘You’ll feel more in control and have a better time if you stick to the “one alcohol, one water” rule. And remember to eat something – food is very grounding and helps to dispel anxiety.’
Hitting the free Champagne is often a way to drown out self-doubt, but a better option is to adopt a mantra.
Try this one from Paul McGee, author of Self-Confidence (Capstone): ‘Three words: flawed and fantastic. When we embrace and accept that description of ourselves, it can make a big difference to our self-esteem and confidence.'
If these tips just aren't enough, get further self-assurance help here.
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