Do you ever feel that making new friends is one of the most stressful things to do in life? I do.
I find approaching someone new and starting a conversation with the said person very intimidating. I can be very warm and friendly but I have difficulty maintaining the flow of conversation or to keep it interesting. This leads to awkward silences most of the time. Usually I run out of things to say after “What’s your name?” and “What do you do?”. Then I ask boring follow-up questions about their job hoping they will ask me back or have more interesting stuff to talk about from there. I have come across many who are happy to elaborate further and I end up just nodding away even though sometimes I don’t follow too well. Then I tend to lose my focus and stop listening. Just empty nodding and smiling. I know, bad Tien…bad!
That is a major reason why I dread going to networking events or parties alone. It’s not that I am not comfortable alone, I am not comfortable being quiet at an event where you are supposed to mingle around and meet new people. Somehow it makes you seem rude. I am very happy to respond and speak to people who approach me for a chat. I can be very, very friendly too. But I will (unconsciously) make that person work really hard at keeping the ball rolling because I am an introvert. Many a time, they usually move on to chat with others after a few minutes with me. I guess I bore them 😉
I have a handful of friends who are naturals at making new friends. They always have something interesting to say and make you feel comfortable in their presence. They are gifted ice breakers. I always think that people who are natural ice breakers tend to be people who are very confident about their own presence. And they tend to be excellent friends too! I envy their qualities. Maybe I lack confidence.
As difficult as it is for me to do so, I still make an effort to go out there and meet new people to build relationships. I realise I can’t be a big baby and not do something just because I don’t feel like it. It is undeniable that most of the time, it is not what you know but who you know. Exchanging name cards and expanding your list of acquaintances is just something I cannot avoid in the real world.
Are you a gifted ice-breaker? Any tips on how to improve ice-breaking skills?