Somewhere between a third and half of us are introverts, according to Susan Cain's book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. So how do we navigate this time of year, when it can feel as if every day brings a new social challenge - whether it's your office Christmas party or a gathering for New Year? Our Academy Director Rupert Wesson has some advice for surviving silly season.
1.) Remember you're not alone
Many people feel apprehensive about social gatherings, so take comfort (and perhaps some confidence) from the knowledge that others will be as uncomfortable as you.
2.) Go in a spirit of curiosity
You don’t have to be a master raconteur or the best conversationalist to make a great impression. Just go with a desire to learn a little more about the other guests, and ask questions. Generally, people enjoy nothing more than talking about themselves.
3.) Prepare some opening lines
These can be as simple as a polite 'Lovely to meet you' and 'How do you know the host'? Having a few stock lines up your sleeve will help you get off to a confident start.
4.) Take the time to learn people’s names
Being able to use someone’s name when you have only just met them) is a great courtesy and makes you sound more confident. Not knowing their name can put you on the back foot.
5.) Move, mix and mingle
Try to avoid monopolising the same person or group of people to whom you feel comfortable speaking. Make an effort to meet new people: introduce others to the group or ask to be introduced to people you don't know.
6.) Try to look pleased to be there
Making a conscious effort to smile will help you to relax and make you seem more approachable.
7.) Remember no one is looking at you!
You may feel a little self-conscious walking into a room full of people, but the reality is that we rarely take as much notice of each other as we might think.
8.) Don’t sneak away at the first opportunity
Stay until your discomfort subsides and you may find you actually start to enjoy yourself. Make sure you personally thank your host before departing.