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Kulala Guides: How to Survive Small Talk at a Party

For an introvert who seeks comfort in solace, the parties that roll around this time of the year might be a bit much to handle. But fret not, we have a game plan to help you socially thrive.
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You’re a plus-one for the night. You’re standing in a circle of four with a glass of champagne in hand. Your partner is completely engaged in conversation with a friend. There’s a negligible envelop of space between you and the other plus-one you’re not acquainted with. As the conversation shows no signs of ending, a sense of awkwardness swells in the air you share with your fellow bystander.

You run through the possibilities in your mind, where anxiety is gradually occupying greater real estate with every passing syllable exchanged in the conversation you are not a part of. Do you guzzle down your untouched drink on hand and make your way to the bar for another? Should you excuse yourself from the circle to seek refuge in the powder room? Whip out your handphone and attend to an absolutely important imaginary phone call? Or execute the seemingly worst out of the options – dive headfirst into small talk with the still unfamiliar stranger. Ohthe horror.

It’s an all too familiar scenario that creeps up on the best of us introverts, particularly, when the parties roll around at the year end. Getting to a social event is half the battle won but thriving in a room full of strangers is a whole other ball game. And to channel the Joey Tribbani hidden within, you need a game plan. As an INFJ, I am genetically wired to be socially awkward – it is in my DNA. However, having be in the media industry for a good number of years, I have picked up a handful of pointers to distract myself from wishing the ground would swallow me whole at social events. I’m pulling out the best tricks from the books for my fellow Chandler Bing types to thrive at some good-natured banter.

 

#1: BREAK THE ICE WITH A COMPLIMENT

When no one else has introduced you to the circle, take the liberty to do so yourself. To get a conversation going, be generous with your compliments – the bag, the outfit, the hair, well, anything really. It’s a fool-proof segue into the details about yourself all while keepin’ it real smooth.

 

#2: BE CURIOUS

Even if the conversation starts on the shallow end, it pays to remember that the conversation is what you make of it. Being interested in the person you’re engaging with is a great way to encourage the dialogue from moving past frivolous small talk. It also shifts the attention away from you and onto the other person while you gather your confidence gradually as the banter progresses. Who knows, it might be a narrative that turns from being strangers to friends.

 

#3: INSERT YOURSELF INTO THE CONVERSATION

You have to understand that you can’t entirely remove yourself from the narrative by only asking questions. You do not want it to feel like an interrogation. You want your questions to ideally lead into a topic of common interest – keep this at the recesses of your mind before you get too carried away with your mental checklist of questions.

 

#4: READ THE ROOM 

If you feel a conversation drawling on and on, do yourself and the other person a favour concluding the pointless chatter. You should always look to end a conversation on a pleasant note before things go south. My go-to verbal waltz out of a conversation is the classic, “I think I should check on my friend, it has been awhile.”  Yes, it IS as easy as that. You can then sink into the comfort of your beloved friend who you might not have seen for all of what might have been ten minutes.

 

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