Take the Room by Storm by Calming the Sea of Anxieties
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Take the Room by Storm by Calming the Sea of Anxieties

We’ve all had the butterflies just before entering a room filled with people. Overwhelming feelings of nervousness and anxiety. But there are ways to learn how to alleviate the stress, build confidence and camouflage your insecurities until you become more relaxed at entering events and social gatherings. Here are my five tips to get you started:

  1. Accept the nervousness. The best thing to do is accept the fact that you are nervous and don’t fall victim to playing the blame game, and ask yourself, “What is wrong with me? 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 stance before you enter the room by throwing 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 BREATHE!
     

  2. Identify what you are nervous about and what you feel could possibly happen to you. Our subconscious thinking 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.
     

  3. How do you approach people? A room full of people you do not know can be intimidating, but remember a lot of the other people there will be on their own too, so you are all in the same boat. 

    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.
     

  4. Small talk issues. So how’s the weather? Small talk is a lot of peoples worse nightmare. How do you make conversation with someone that you’ve never met before? It’s easier than you think. 

    SOLUTION: Practice makes perfect! If small talk doesn’t come easily to you., practice in line ups at a cash machine, 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.
     

  5. When do you know when to take you leave? Well done you integrated yourself into a group, you talked the talk, now you want to leave. 

About Elizabeth Backman

Elizabeth Backman is the owner of Pro Etiquette. Founded in Victoria in 2012, her business has now expanded to Greater Vancouver and is offering a program for regular in-house training, professional development days, speaking engagements, as well as private and individually tailored sessions. Elizabeth adjusts the focus on the corporate culture lens through the soft skill of manners. She is an active member of the Rotary Langley Central Club and is engaged with her community.

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