Awkward situations and gaps in the conversation are an inherent part of life, whether we like it or not. Instead of avoiding them and increase your own anxiety, it is best to be prepared with some ideas on how to be less awkward and learn how to find your way out of unpleasant silence. This list of tips on how to be less awkward will prove an invaluable help at parties, social events, and sometimes at work.
10 Easy Ways to Make Yourself Less Awkward
Use an ice-breaker
Do you know how the most memorable people always make a nice entrance by saying something witty and suitable for the occasion? If you are attending a party, bow in old fashioned way, like a medieval lady, while at the same time keeping a bright smile and saying in a spirited way something like “It is an exquisite pleasure and honor for me to be here today”. This is a nicety for your host and it is a good way to introduce yourself. If you know the hosts better, you can start with a joke that you know they appreciate.
Conceive your message in advance
Think about how you would like people to think about you, and turn the conversation in that direction. Politicians typically respond to questions by saying something slightly off-topic, but connecting it with a good start that seems to answer the person they talk to. Do the same thing and lead the conversation the way you please.
If out of ideas, ask more questions
People usually enjoy talking about themselves, and this is really the best opportunity to charm them. This how-to-be-less-awkward tip works in a large variety of situations, including at work. If you are shy and don’t like answering questions about yourself, or the conversation is stalling and you have run out of ideas how to make it work, then just start asking your conversation partner about him or herself. Be careful not to ask questions that are too personal, though. Keep it light, like asking about what they do for a living, but not impersonal, like talking about the weather. When they talk about themselves, make sure you sound approving and encourage them with a few compliments.
Do your homework
If you are going to a business meeting, or an interview, make sure to read in advance about the person you meet. Use online sources such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter and bring the conversation to their hobbies or interests, without revealing that you looked them up and you are doing it on purpose. Try to bring the conversation to the topics they care about and that you are also genuinely interested in, to avoid being bored to death with topics such as those that a civil engineer may want to discuss.
Find your comfort zone
Firstly, even if you need to impress with your clothing, choose something that fits you well. Choose your clothes and shoes according to the occasion, and make sure they are comfortable. You don’t want to have to suck your belly in for hours to avoid looking silly. Secondly, try to find either your friends or some people that share your interests, especially if you are at a party. Otherwise you will keep feeling slightly lost and bored. Finding some kindred spirits will help you alleviate boredom and provide a lot of great topics for a freely flowing conversation.
Plan your conversation topics
Speaking of conversation, make an agenda with conversation topics before you leave home. Try to avoid charged topics like politics at all costs, but find interesting things in the news that you would enjoy hearing opinions about. This is our favorite tip on how to be less awkward, because it allows you to plan and control how things will go, long in advance. Customize your speech depending on whether you’re talking to girls or guys. It’s the girls who are ready to hear about Kim Kardashian and the guy who want to hear about how beer is made, and not the other way around.
Time your greetings
You don’t want to hit your peer by mistake when you reach out for a handshake, or to bang heads together with the girl you just met while leaning for a kiss on the cheek. So when you are introduced to someone, wait for a half second to make sure you’re on the same page. If they’re not initiating the salute, you should do it instead. Don’t wait for too long though, you don’t want to seem conceited. The same goes for your nonverbal language. Don’t flap your arms around like a bird when explaining, because that’s a sign you don’t have a large vocabulary. Go into in-depth explanation using words but keep a good amount of expressiveness with your body and face.
Take some time to gauge the mood
When you are unsure where you landed, walk around and say hi to a few people while keeping a moderate smile. This is to gauge how everyone is feeling and make sure you don’t land in a charged conversation. Avoiding awkward situations is best, as opposed to walking right into them.
Focus on the present
Keep your mind clear and stay in the present. This will help you meet people and act in a natural way. If you think about something else, you’ll look distracted and distant, and this will discourage people from approaching you.
Handle difficult topics appropriately
If you have to bring up a difficult topic, just cut to the chase and don’t make it take longer than it should. Be firm but polite. You can actually acknowledge your discomfort and say that you are sorry to have to bring it up, but this will not stop you from sending your point across anyway.