A crowd was gathering outside the theater, waiting to be let in to take our seats. My friend Melissa joined the crowd with an unfamiliar man at her side. This man instantly shook my hand and introduced himself. “I’m Charles,” he said, “What’s your name?” I introduced myself and we began an easy conversation, sharing tidbits about ourselves, getting to know each other.
I was quite impressed with him. He was friendly, easy to talk to. He seemed confident and self-possessed. I wondered if he and Melissa had been dating awhile. It seemed serious because this was her theater, her crowd and he was bravely stepping into it and introducing himself.
Then he told me that he had just met Melissa that night and she’d invited him to come with her to the theater. I was surprised. He seemed so comfortable, so connected to everything.
I told him that I was impressed that he was so comfortable even though he didn’t know anyone there, even Melissa. He told me that it was a trick that he’d learned from an old friend of his Dad.
The trick is to pretend that you’re the host wherever you go.
What a novel idea! The idea is that when you’re the host of a party, your focus is on making the guests comfortable. You welcome them with a warm “Hello.” You find a topic to get them talking, “Do you know anyone in the play? How do you know Melissa?” You introduce them to other people and throw in the tidbit you just learned about them so that they can start talking to each other, “You don’t know anyone in the play? This is Bob; he doesn’t know anyone in the play either.” Boom!
What this does for you is that it takes the focus off your own shyness or discomfort and gets everyone talking to each other.
Instead of waiting for others to reach out to you and help you get comfortable, you reach out to others and help them get comfortable.
How often have you stood uncomfortably in a crowd of strangers or even friends, feeling like you didn’t belong, hoping to be rescued? You’re not alone. Most everyone at the party is feeling the same way, hoping to connect with someone.
I’ve walked into rooms where I knew almost everyone there and yet I still felt a little shy or awkward until I found someone to talk to. When people start conversations with me, I really appreciate it. But I don’t have to wait around for others to save me. I can create connections myself. And I know that if I reach out to other people to start conversations, they will appreciate my efforts also.
So be the host wherever you go. It works for you and everyone else too.
If you think you could benefit from the support of a trained psychotherapist, reach out! In Los Angeles, contact Rena Pollak, LMFT for a free 15 minute phone consultation. She maintains a private practice in Encino and Calabasas where she specializes in young adults and self-esteem issues.
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