7 Ways To Be The Person Everyone Wants To Talk To At The Dinner Party
Being the magnetic person everyone wants to talk to at a dinner party is tough stuff. It'd be nice to be that one character at a dinner party by the punch bowl, the one that's got a whole group of people riveted over every word she's saying, making them afraid to grab another drink in case they miss a detail. That person practically vibrates with charisma, and seems to easily slip in and out of conversation like they were born a hostess. Meanwhile, most of us are hanging out on the couch and nursing a beer, trying to hype ourselves up to go and mingle. But while that larger-than-life person in the center of attention might seem almost other-worldly with her easy conversation and suave people skills, you have to keep in mind that's not exclusively a gift. It could be learned.
So if you're tired of hovering and want to shake off those nerves, roll up your sleeves and get to learning! Just because you're shy doesn't mean you're confined to a lifetime of hanging out in corners and counting down till you can Irish exit out of a party — everyone has something interesting to say and exciting to contribute. So share what's yours. Here are seven ways to be the magnetic person at a party — follow them and watch yourself turn into all charm.
1. Come In Excited To Connect
There are days (see: pretty much every weekend) where all you want to do is put on your most worn-in pajamas and just watch Netflix and eat pink marshmallows all night. During days like those, going out to a dinner party or a bar can seem like nothing less than work. And if you come in to the room feeling that way, you'll start acting like it, whether you mean to or not. So instead change the mood of the evening by telling yourself you're going out because you want to connect. You want to hear stories, enjoy good convenience store wine, and hear all the interesting things strangers have been up to.
Career advice writer Marla Tabaka at entrepreneur site Inc., explained, "Walking into a room of people is like walking into a library or video store: There is so much to learn and enjoy! You never know how one person’s story may change your life or the course of your business. Seek out knowledge, inspiration, and great connections. Remember, a room full of people is your candy store, not your prison!" If you keep in mind you're coming to an event for the sole purpose of enjoying others rather than impressing people, the narrative will shift.
2. Be Aware What Your Body Is Doing
If you saw George Clooney at a party, do you think he'd be standing by the chip dip with his shoulders hunched and his feet pointing towards the door? No, the man would be standing straight with his arms waving about, killing it with an incredible joke about Matt Damon.
Be George Clooney. Keep your body open, make sure your feet are pointing at the person you're chatting with, and lean in ever so slightly so they know you're engaged and enjoying your time together.
Vanessa Van Petten, social and emotional intelligence researcher and Forbes Women contributor, explained, "Body language is a crucial part of first impressions. Everything from your posture to how you carry yourself to the way you’re angling your body...Subconscious cues to keep in mind include noticing where you point your feet, the position of your shoulders, and the way you shake hands." If you uncross your arms and open up your posture people will know you're open to their chatter and will come over, ready to mingle.
3. Make The Person You're Talking To Feel Like The Most Interesting Person In The Room
Everyone has insecurities, and everyone has a moment during the night where they think, "Does anyone even care what I'm talking about?" It's enough to make you want to go to the bathroom and lean against the sink in melancholy retrospect.
Be the person in the room that puts everyone back into ease. When you talk with somebody, be all there for them: React to their story, respond excitedly, and just show them you're really enjoying their company.
Tabaka offered, "Look people in the eye, smile when appropriate, and keep your energy high with humor and passion. People will feel valued and appreciated when you focus purely on them, leaving a lasting and favorable impression." React to people's small talk you hope other's will react to yours — stay engaged and really appreciate the connection.
4. Use Their Name
I can count on my hands how many times me and my best friend use each other's names. When talking, it's just not something you usually pepper in unless you're trying to get their attention, and even then that's replaced with a simple, "Hey, you." So when someone you don't quite know uses your name during conversation it feels almost...intimate. It feels like a line has been crossed into "I don't know you" to "I think we might be friends?" and it feels nice.
Whitson Gordon, lifestyle writer at Lifehacker, suggested, "Find a time to use the person's name in conversation. Again, you don't want to overdo it and say their name at the end of every sentence, but a few uses will not only make the meeting more personable, but it'll help you remember their name for later on." It's a simple move, but an effective one.
5. Anticipate Needs
We often have this habit of acting standoffish when we meet someone new, like we know they're not going to mean more to us than a conversation in between appetizers. So if that's the mindset, you can only imagine how far that "friends" finish line is from "acquaintance." Which is silly — eliminate that feeling by creating an instant camaraderie by anticipating your person's needs. Tap them on the arm and tell them (don't ask) to come get more wine with you in the kitchen. Or throw a sly look towards the desserts table and tell them you think you should split a plate or add an element of guac and chip into your riveting conversation. Making them go with you on this little tour of the living room (or bar) will instantly make you feel tighter.
As self-development writers Brett & Kate McKay from lifestyle site Art of Manliness put it, "Giving someone something they might need without them having to ask shows that you’re thinking about them." Keep an eye on other people's needs (whether that's a top off or a jacket when outside) and they'll instantly feel a spark of friendship.
6. Stay Positive
How would you react if you met someone at the finger foods table and the first thing they said was, "These appetizers are lousy." Welp, we're off to a great start. Chances are the conversation from then on won't be what you call sparkling. Don't be that guy — instead focus on the exciting and happy when thinking of what to talk about.
Tabaka encouraged, "Choose a topic you are passionate about, and your eyes will light up, as will your smile. Ask questions that prompt the other party to continue his or her story because, after all, you are obviously very interested. Avoid talking about hardships as though you are a victim. Always leave a conversation on an upbeat note and people will want to come back for more." No one ever wants to spend time with the person that always has a complaint or grumble at the ready. They move towards the ones that make them feel good about the evening and life in general. Be that person.
7. Make Them Comfortable
You know how lousy it feels to be hovering outside a circle of people in the middle of a story, or abandoned on a couch while everyone else is having a wonderful time? Now think of how you felt about the person that spotted you and came to your rescue.
McKay pointed out, "People are eternally grateful for the person who saves them from standing awkwardly alone. One of the best ways to show warmth is to introduce people to those you are with and invite them into the conversation." If you go out of your way to make people around you comfortable, they'll look at you as a hero and forever love you for it.
See? No one has to be stuck being the wallflower if they don't want to be. With a few simple maneuvers every one of us can be the magnetic person everyone wants to talk to at the dinner party. Now go charm people off of their feet!