Sometimes, those of us who are socially awkward feel bad for the people who invite us out. If we’ve had a few cocktails, we’re generally able to act like “normal” people, but that means we’re uncomfortable to talk to for at least the first half of a party. Since “drink more, faster” isn’t really good advice (or is it?), we decided to figure out what we could do, sober, to make things better for ourselves and those around us. Here, our best tips.
If you're an introvert, party environments can be totally overwhelming, which can make it difficult to zero in on one person in order to communicate naturally. Try pretending you're alone with that person—it may sound like an obvious trick, but it works! Pretending that you're in a one-on-one situation will make it easier to transition from small talk into real conversation, and small talk, as we all know, is the socially-inept person's worst nightmare.
If you don't have a romantic partner who is more gregarious than you, we suggest enlisting the help of a rotating roster of outgoing friends to be your wing-people for social events. There's nothing better, as a socially awkward individual, than being allowed to quietly sip your drink while someone else carries the conversation on your behalf.
The best way to float an uncomfortable conversation is to ask the person with whom your speaking questions. The caveat to this is that if the questions are generic, the convo will get stuck in small talk, and you'll be sunk. In advance of an event at which you'll be required to socialize with strangers, we suggest prepping a couple of interesting questions that might spark real discussion, in order to ward off awkward silences and talk of the weather.
Some people will tell you that the best strategy for socializing if you're a little uncomfortable doing so is to arrive at a party early, before everyone has broken off into small groups. We strongly disagree with this strategy, however; instead, we suggest you slip in once the party is in full swing. That way, your awkwardness will have less of a chance to draw attention to itself and, if all else fails, you can just do a couple of laps around the crowded room, take a selfie and bolt.
The invention of the smart phone was the best thing to ever happen to people who are weird at parties. You can spend the entire party pretending something more interesting is happening on your phone, and people will just think you're cooler than them (and a bit of an asshole, but you can't win them all). This editor sometimes reads books at parties on her phone. She's also single, but we swear the two aren't related.
More of us are socially awkward than ever before, mostly because we do live inside our phones now (see the prior slide). The only way to get better at interacting IRL is to do it—the more you go out, the easier it will become.
Conversely, 2017 is a great year for socially awkward people, because staying at home, alone, isn't quite the same as it was 30 years ago. Now, you can be a near total shut-in and still have a life, albeit a digital one. Your Instagram might suffer from a lack of pics of you out in the wild, but your introverted side will flourish. If going out is so awkward as to make you miserable, don't force it too much—we'll all be living in virtual reality soon enough, and then, you'll be considered a trailblazer!