We went to Ian's department Christmas party today. We stayed longer than we ever have before :) It was held at somone's house and there were about 40 people there. I've met a few people before, but don't really know anyone, and so I find these sorts of experiences somewhat uncomfortable.
I don't really know how to mingle, and I don't know how to talk to people I don't know. I can say "hi, my name is Chantelle", but I don't know what to say after that. Sometimes I get as far as a mutually exchanged "what do you do for work/fun", but after that I end up standing there in an awkward sort of silence with one of those "I don't know what to say next" grins on my face. I want to be friendly with people, but I just have no idea what to say to strangers. I'm fine when there's someone there who can say "Chantelle curls every week; Bill, you wanted to try it, didn't you?" or something like that. But when I have to do that myself, well, I suck at it.
To be fair, the awkwardness was not all mine tonight - we were there with other bioinformatics (it's a branch of computer science) grad students, some profs, department support people, and their significant others. Many of those people, like me, are introverts, and have the same troubles I do.
I have the same problem, so what I do is just keep asking questions - people love to talk about themselves :)
Yes, that's true - but I worry that asking more and more questions could be interpreted as interrogating someone. There's a fine line between asking lots of questions and putting someone on the spot (and hence making that person uncomfortable), and I'm pretty sure I'm not talented enough to necessarily stay on the right side of that line :)
I try to make people laugh - incessantly - which eventually comes across as, well, crazy.
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