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How to… Survive at parties

How to… Survive at parties
November 3, 2017

There are a few people who think to themselves ‘woopee!’ and really go for it when they’re invited to a party. However, most of us are nervous to some extent before we go – this can vary from a slight worry before-hand, to complete panic, which might even prevent us from going!

Most of us worry that we’re going to appear boring, stupid, a bit weird, or, worst of all, utterly creepy so….

Here are a few hints and tips, using on-verbal forms of communication, to help you survive or even enjoy the party!!

How to look friendly and approachable:

  • Adopt an open posture: arms by your side with palms facing slightly outwards; legs relaxed and uncrossed; lean forward slightly to people you’re interested in; stand up straight.
  • Eye contact – this is vital, as it conveys confidence and trustworthiness. But prolonged eye contact, roughly more than one second) indicates intense emotion, and is either an act of love or an act of hostility. Keep your eye contact in the upside down triangle area between eyebrows and nose (looking at someone’s forehead is considered talking down to them).
  • Smile when you make eye-contact with someone (even if you’re feeling down, forcing yourself to smile has been shown to lift your mood).
  • Mirror the other persons’s gestures, stance and expressions. When we do this, it increases the other person’s sense that we like them and understand them (do a bit of people watching – you will often find that when two people really like each other and are chatting together, they are standing or sitting in a mirror image of each other).

Signals that mean ‘stay away’:

  • If someone is fidgeting, then they are bored and restless.
  • Tapping your foot is distracting and a sure sign of boredom.
  • Rocking, leg swinging and tapping mean that you have got too close to someone (see below for interpersonal space).
  • If you’re thinking about approaching someone, pay attention to the signal they give: they may turn away or avert their gaze to avoid eye contact; they may show barrier signal such as crossed arms and/or legs. In this instance, don’t force the issue, give them space. It may be that they’re just shy or nervous. If their body language changes to more open signal it might be worth proceeding, but if not just move on – it probably has nothing to do with you personally.

What to look for in other people:

  • If the person you’re interested in maintains eye contact with you for more than one second, the chances are that they might return your interest. If the person looks away briefly then makes eye contact again, you can safely assume they’re very interested. If they smile too, they’re definitely interested!
  • Interpersonal distance – The social zone is about 1½ to 4 metres, the personal zone is about 45 cm to 1½ metres (the intimate zone is less than 45 cm and is only for lovers, family and very close friends). If you receive a positive response at 1½ metres, move in to arm’s length, but keep an eye open for signs of discomfort from the other person (see above).
  • People will instinctively raise their eyebrows when they meet someone they are interested in, so look out for this.
  • When someone is interested or excited their eyes become shinier (as the glands in the eye secrete more fluid), so look out for this one too.

Worst place to be:

  • Near the wall.
  • Sitting at a table.
  • Always in the bar

Best place to be:

  • Try to stay roughly in the centre of the room and move around a little bit.
  • Sociable people also tend to gravitate towards windows or pot plants, so hang around there too!

Once you’ve made a connection:

  • When you’ve made a connection with someone you’re interest in, do your best to find out about them – there is nothing as flattering as someone showing a genuine interest in you!

…and try to keep in mind at the start of the party, that at least three quarters of the people there will be feeling as nervous as you are (even if they don’t look like it)!