Think back to the last time you were at a party or event. If I were to ask you who was the most interesting person in the room, how would you have described that person?
Would they have been the person who told the best stories or jokes, the one who always had a crowd gathered around, or the one who seemed to know the most people and was a social butterfly?
Or… would the most interesting person have been the one who took the time to get to know you? When you live with social anxiety, sometimes you think that part of making new friends means putting on a “show” and being fake or someone whom you are not.
While it’s true that you shouldn’t let your social anxiety hold you back from being yourself or showing your true personality, that doesn’t mean that to be interesting you have to change who you are.
Instead, to be the most interesting person in the room, you have to do the exact opposite – be the most interested person in the room. Stop thinking about what will make other people think you are interesting, and start thinking about what actually interests you!
Once you start to view social situations in this way, you’ll be able to unlock your passion and find it easier to “be yourself” and let others get to know the real you. Below are 7 ways to make that happen.
If you are going to a party or event, think about who you might want to get to know better. What do you want to learn about that person? Spend more time listening than talking and be curious. Ask questions about that person’s interests that maybe you’d like to know more about or you have in common. Eventually, you should find some common ground. If it’s someone you know little about, a very open-ended question such as “What’s your story?” will automatically make you the most interesting person in the room.
Offer to Help
When you can, and when it makes sense, offer to help someone. Be generous with your knowledge, resources, and words of advice and follow up: do what you say you are going to do. It’s easy to make promises but much harder to keep them. When you actually follow through on what you say you will do, you easily become the most interesting person in the room.
You might have been born in a certain decade that remains nameless (I won’t give mine away, but let’s just say that Saturday Night Fever was popular), but that doesn’t mean you can’t stay current and learn about what’s hot today. Stay up to date on current news, trends, music, sports, etc. so that when topics come up you aren’t left in the dark. The most interesting person in the room is often also the one who knows a little bit about a lot of things.
Do Unexpected Things
Don’t be afraid to be weird if you want to be the most interesting person in the room. State your opinion even if it’s contrary. Stand up for others even when nobody else does. Don’t be combative or unnecessarily argumentative, but don’t agree with everything everyone says. Having an opinion and being a bit unpredictable will make you the most interesting person in the room.
It’s true that interesting people usually have stories to tell. Try to rehearse some stories in your head before an event that entertain, inform, and/or engage others. Stories about other people are the most compelling and interesting. If you have performance anxiety, try telling your story just to one other person. Over time, you might find it becomes easier to tell your story to a group of people.
If you notice someone being left out, find a way to include that person in your group. If you live with social anxiety, you’ve probably been in that position yourself many times. Didn’t you appreciate it when someone took the time to include you? The most interesting person in the room is the one who takes the time to check who might be feeling left out.
Lead With Passion
Do interesting things in your everyday life, and you will find it much easier to be the most interesting person in the room. Why? You’ll have amazing stories to tell, you’ll have lots of points of interest on which to connect, and you’ll feel more passionate about all of it. You’ll be upbeat when you talk about your life, and others will feel your enthusiasm. The most interesting person in the room often isn’t trying to be interesting – that’s just the life that they lead.
I know this is all easier said than done, especially if social situations make you break out in a cold sweat. Step one: get your social anxiety under control. Step two: work on what we talked about above.