Superbowl parties. tea parties, Mad Men parties….they can be so much fun. But then you can get the awkward moment of silence when your brain refuses to deliver any words, much less coherent narrative. Here are 6 practical conversation secrets that also make your life easier at networking events, lunches and anytime there’s that panic when your brain converts into a glacier. These tactics are customized for introverts and closet introverts. (If you’re not sure if this fits you, read this.)
Contrary to extroverted legend, introverts are not antisocial; we simply find socializing more taxing. These tactics will help you maximize your social engagements.
1. Write down reminders of some fun or interesting anecdotes you know. Or you can make a note on your phone. It can even be a book you have read or are currently reading. You may think you’ll remember, but brain freeze hits in the worst moments. A glance at your “convo topics” on your phone or a piece of paper can transform you into the vivacious life of the party.
Notice the jokes and stories that resonate more with people. Any little event that makes you smile will probably delight others. Or at least they will enjoy your enjoyment. You can re-purpose these convo jewels for future events.
2. Check internet news headlines before you go. You can always ask, “So what is your take on fill-in-the-blank-news-headline?” People love to be asked their opinions. Especially by someone who listens to the answer.
At a New Year’s Eve party, a friend shared how he can open a sports conversation even though he has no clue, with the generic “How about that game last night!”
3. Learn a joke. Then you might want to learn a second and a third, but that’s enough. Just for you, I have a great joke for all audiences at the bottom of this post.
4. Google any of the guests you know are coming, or ask your hosts if you are close enough.
You can really shine if you brag about one guest to another. For example, “You are going to love meeting MaryChris, she has such a bubbly personality and huge heart. Make sure she tells you about her work in Haiti.” Not only are you bantering like a party animal, you’re building amazing karma.
5. Have an exit plan. While it’s not normally used, I never go anywhere without an exit plan. Useful “I need to leave early reasons” include your children, your dogs, your health, a big event tomorrow or the vague “I’m having an introvert moment.” You have more credibility if you develop this before you arrive, rather than fishing for an excuse later or hanging out in the bathroom, reading a book on your phone.
Don’t feel bad if you decide to leave early. Socializing is great fun but introverts need quiet time to be at their best.
6. Go with an extroverted friend. These people love to talk, are great at it and make sparkling conversation with ease. You can reflect in their conversational glory.
(From my husband, Ruben’s, repertoire. Reproduced without permission so if you meet him and he tells you this joke, please don’t let on you heard from me first.)
Many years ago the three greatest conductors in the world met up and were having a conversation. There was Leonard Bernstein from the New York Philharmonic, Herbert von Karajan from the Berlin Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta, Music Director for Life of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Mehta remarks, “You know, the people say I am the best conductor in the world.” Mr. Bernstein retorts, “Well, God says I am the best conductor in the world.” Mr. von Karajan calmly responds, “Hey, I never said that.”
Cute and clever. You can also transpose it to any field. Ruben has effectively told the joke with our 2 dogs and my sister’s dog playing the parts of the conductors.