Social Anxiety at Parties: How to Become More Engaged at Parties if You Have Social Anxiety

Parties are a part of life for many people–they’re fun occasions to gather with friends, meet new people, and dive into some interesting conversations.  However, if you have social anxiety at parties, such events can seem “forbidden” to you. The nerve-wracking feeling that people will judge you or that you’ll make too many social mistakes can keep you from ever experiencing the fun to be had in the first place.

A little shyness at parties isn’t all that strange; a lot of people feel the jitters at social events.  However, if you want to take on your social anxiety at parties headfirst, here are a few helpful tips.

Social Anxiety at Parties, Tip #1 -  Not everyone is outgoing and confident at parties

Believe it or not, even normally outgoing people experience a little nervousness at parties.  Everybody, from the painfully-shy wallflower to the social butterfly, wants to be liked.  It’s a fundamental human desire, and it can be an anxiety-provoking situation for just about anybody.

Usually, people can push past their temporary shyness; the socially anxious, however, can easily feel like they’re stuck in a rut of isolation.  One of the best steps towards overcoming this isolation at parties is to identify other reserved people.  Usually, to your relief, you’ll find a handful of people keeping to themselves, not actively engaging everyone in the room like best buddies.  These are the people you can probably walk up to and say “hi” to without fear of judgment.

They’ll be relieved someone took the initiative–and you’ll be showing them how to do the same!

Social Anxiety at Parties, Tip #2 – Talk about common experiences and knowledge

Conversations that revolve around topics that are familiar to both people are the smoothest, most easily-flowing discussions.  At parties, you should talk to people about things you both like or agree on.

The host is an easy common topic; you can ask people how you know the host.  This is an almost expected conversation starter at both formal and informal gatherings. You can also talk about simple things like the drinks or appetizers available at the party venue.

Sometimes you’ll find yourself at more formal gatherings and networking events.  These are associations of people with a common interest or who work in a common industry; for example, your company’s annual Christmas party, an actors’ get-together, or an IT professional’s conference.  Whatever you have in common with the other people there is a great conversation topic.  If you feel inexperienced, don’t worry–your interest in the subject at hand is enough.

Social Anxiety at Parties, Tip #3 – Get as much practice and controlled exposure as you can

In seeking to overcome social anxiety, it’s very important that you get as much social practice and exposure as possible.  Too much all at once, however, can overwhelm you.  You should seek opportunities to go to parties whenever you’re invited, make yourself stay for a certain amount of time–even if it’s as little as 20 minutes–and then leave.  The next time, stay at least 40 minutes and talk to at least two people.  The more you keep going to social events and setting achievable milestones for yourself, the sooner functioning at parties will become second nature to you.

Social anxiety at parties can seem to be an impossible obstacle to overcome, but it’s not.  The idea might seem nerve-wracking at first, but after you attend a few fairly low-key events and start pushing your boundaries, you might begin to see that they’re not so bad in the first place.  Once you begin to get a little more comfortable, it’s a sign that you’re making progress.  And that’s always cause to celebrate!

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