I am not a social butterfly.

But I have noticed when people are better at being social at gatherings than others.  These are people I usually prefer to talk to.

Be interesting

If all you have to talk about is your work, a relationship or your dog then it will soon get boring.  The best way to resolve this is to have a healthy range of interests.  Otherwise people find excuses to avoid spending time with you.

It is also worth being careful on repeating your anecdotes, as I witnessed someone in my travels in Canada tell the same story of all their amazing experiences (all 3) several times.

Avoid difficult topics

I was out with work.  It is always difficult because the natural reaction is to talk shop.  So when I realised we had been talking about the latest balls-up by a particular manager for the last 10 minutes, I decided to ask a team member about his past role working for the Conservative party.

I inadvertently managed to kill the night as he talked politics, and because he was drunk downplayed everyone else’s political views in an aggressive manner and patronised us by claiming intellectually superiority in politics.

Everyone left soon after.  Politics, religion… not a good idea for a social occasion.

Poor communication skills

Conversing is a two way process – talking and listening.  Don’t wait for your turn to talk, listen to what the other person says and responds appropriately.

A friend of mine talks very quickly so it is difficult to hear what they say and she asks a lot of  personal questions – which can also be intrusive.  To make it worse as soon as you answer questions, the next question is fired out.

Knowing she is not listening is annoying and I can’t see any point making effort to talk if she is not really interested.

Be positive

I have enough problems in my life, so I don’t want to sit and listen to someone being negative, especially in my spare time.  I don’t mind listening to peoples problems, especially if they are seeking my advice.  But if you just want to sound off hours on end perhaps you should go see a therapist?

Less is more.

The best meet ups with friends are at best about 3 hours.   Unless we are engaged with particular activities (cinema etc) then going longer than that I want to get out.

Once a friend came to my house.  He was talking for hours, I was getting really exhausted, so I started dropping polite hints in conversation that it was time to go “It’s getting late…”, “I have a lot to do in the morning…”

This didn’t work so I started to brush my teeth, then I put on my night things.

It was only when I started falling asleep on the chair I was sat in that he got the hint to leave.  I haven’t rushed to have people around again.

Don’t have long phone conversations

Like knowing when to leave when seeing friends, there is nothing that makes me avoid communicating with friends if I know that I will be on the phone for longer than 30 minutes.

If something takes longer to discuss than 30 minutes we should meet in person and not have the uncomfortable feeling of a phone stuck to ears from the heat.

I have found that following these rules has helped in both my personal and professional life.

So how do you be social?

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