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WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Psychotherapist Dr. Barton Goldsmith (who admits to being shy himself) offers up some simple tips to make socializing online a bit easier.
Online socializing, connections and meetings have been a great help during this time, but for some people it can be a little daunting, usually more in an interpersonal way than with the technology. I have a secret: I am shy, even in online meetings. And before the pandemic, I was the same way socially.
If I was invited to an event where I didn’t know many people — perhaps a party given by acquaintances of my other half — it was a bit scary. Most of the time I’d rather just be the guy who writes and occasionally looks up from his laptop, but we all have to interact. Right now it’s more important than ever for all of us, so here are a few socializing tips for online interactions that have worked for me and may help you as well.
– Try to keep a smile on your face. This lets people know that you are open and receptive to being approached. Seeing someone smile helps the other person feel that you are safe to talk to. Smiling also sends a signal to your own brain telling you that you are in a good place and should expect nice things to happen around you. It’s interesting that we are the only species in the animal kingdom that bares its teeth as a sign of welcome and joy. Other species do it only when they are angry or scared.
– If you are talking to a small group of people who don’t already know each other, become the master of ceremonies. By that, I mean, be the one who makes sure that everyone gets properly introduced. If someone new comes along, introduce them to the group as well. This will help you get to know everyone and make conversation, though not necessarily about yourself. The other people in the group will appreciate your efforts. It makes you look like an outgoing person even if you are a little shy.
– Use the other person’s name when you first meet. When you are introduced to someone, call them by name (even if you can read it on the screen). For example, imagine you are on a Zoom call, and someone introduces you to a guy named Dave. You say, “Hi Dave. Nice to meet you.” It’s a really simple action that produces some powerful results. The person you are greeting will feel more welcomed, you will remember their name after you’ve said it aloud, and you will feel more comfortable because you are on top of the situation and conversation.
– The next step is to ask questions such as where people are from and what brought them to this event. The conversation will usually flow on its own from there, because most folks really like to talk about themselves. In fact, some can go on and on, so learn how to move on gracefully when that happens.
Using these socializing tips for Zoom can turn a potentially uncomfortable meeting or event into a pleasant one, especially for those of us who can be a little introverted. This stuff is easy, and it works, so give it a try.
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.”)
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