We have all had the butterflies just before entering a room filled with people. It all comes down to variations and degrees of nervousness and anxiety.
Guest writer and etiquette expert Elizabeth Backman recommends tips to alleviate the stress, build confidence and camouflage your insecurities until you become more relaxed at entering events and social gathers.
The best thing to do is to accept the fact that you are nervous and don’t fall victim to playing the blame game. For example; “What is wrong with me?” or “Other people don’t have this problem?”
SOLUTION: Prepare yourself for the event. Make sure you are groomed, dressed. Give yourself a power talk. Privately do the power appropriately stance before you enter the room. Throw your arms in the air with your feet planted strong on the floor as if you just crossed the finish line. Adopt a positive mantra such as,” I am good at what I do”. And don’t forget to BREATH!
Identify what you are nervous about and what you feel could possibly happen to you. Our subconscious thinking in our squirrelly heads magnifies our fears. Is it that you are scared you will say something wrong or spill something on you while you are mingling?
SOLUTION: People love to talk about themselves –ask a few questions and off to the races they go. Skip the hors d’oeuvres if you are scared of a spill or something getting caught in your teeth. The scenario that you play in your head is not real but merely fictitious. People will not laugh at you. You are in an environment with adults that are engaged in a social or business event. Remember the boogeyman under the bed? A figment of one’s imagination.
How do you approach people?
SOLUTION: Eyeball the room. Look for people that are in groups. Do not try to enter conversations with only two people. They are mostly likely engaged in a more serious exchange. You don’t want to interrupt unless they make eye contact and offer a welcoming gesture. In groups you just need to wait for a lull in the dialogue and either introduce yourself or partake in their conversation if you have something significant to add. Groups usually widen their circle to allow you to join in. After all you are there to network or make new acquaintances.
Small talk issues. So how’s the weather?
SOLUTION: Practice makes perfect! If small talk doesn’t come easily to you., practice in line ups at a cash, waiting for an elevator or bus, walking your dog…. Look for a common ground to open a conversation. Such as; “ How are you enjoying this event?”, “How long have you know host/ess?” “How long have you been a member?”. You get the idea.
When do you know when to take you leave?
SOLUTION: You don’t want to wait for a lull in the conversation. After some enjoyable bantering, move on to another group. You want to mingle. At this point you should be feeling a bit better about yourself and the lay of the land. The world as you know, it didn’t fall apart. That in its self is comforting. Excuse yourself and state it was a pleasure to meet everyone. You can make an excuse like you need to refill your drink or you may opt out for the washrooms, or simply that you saw someone you knew and want to say hello.
Take comfort that it does get easier with practice.
Facilitator: Elizabeth Backman A Victoria resident and native of Montreal established her company, Pro-Etiquette two years ago to teach the ways of etiquette and civility in business, academic and social settings. Elizabeth has motivated and taught valuable business lessons within companies’ operations, sales departments and with managers and executive, always stressing the importance of respect and communication. She believes in the importance of teaching children, tweens and teens along with young adults transitioning into university and then onwards to the business world. Elizabeth’s versatility enables her to conduct in-house training, retreats, professional development days and speaking engagements. For more information please visit www.elizabethbackman.com