• Start small. Being outgoing does not mean turning into a flamboyant extrovert or a busy socialite. Work on talking to individuals, one at a time. You could make a goal of starting a conversation with at least one person. Try to smile. Practice maintaining eye contact.
● Break the ice. Well, if you really have an interest in others, it’s usually not hard to find things to talk about. Simply asking others how they are doing or asking them about their work helps you to get to know them better. If you don’t know what to say, just start asking people questions. Of course, you don’t want people to feel that they are being interrogated. If a person seems resistant to answering questions, try sharing some information about yourself. I have found that the best way to make people feel comfortable is to have them talk about themselves. It helps to compliment people on their dress or something else. You make them feel that they are liked. Of course, be genuine, and avoid empty flattery.
● Be a good listener. “Be swift about hearing, slow about speaking,” says the Bible. After all, a conversation is an interchange—not a solo performance. So if you tend to be shy about talking, this may actually work to your advantage! People appreciate good listeners.
● Join in. Having mastered the art of one-on-one conversation, move on to talking in groups. Sometimes the easiest way to get involved in a conversation is to join one that is already in progress. Of course, discernment and good manners are essential here. Don’t barge into what is obviously a private discussion. But when it is clear that a group is engaged in light conversation, try to become part of it. Be tactful; don’t interrupt and try to take control. Try listening for a while. As you get comfortable, you may be inclined to make a few comments.
● Don’t expect perfection of yourself. Sometimes youths worry too much about saying the wrong thing.
● Keep your sense of humor. Granted, putting your foot in your mouth is embarrassing. But if you just relax and laugh at yourself, the moment soon passes. You make a mountain out of a molehill when you allow yourself to get flustered, frustrated, or worried.
● Be patient. Realize that not everyone will respond immediately. An uncomfortable lapse in conversation doesn’t necessarily mean that the person doesn’t like you or that you should give up trying to talk. Sometimes people are merely preoccupied—or shy like you. In such situations, it may help to give the person a bit more time to warm up to you.
● Try talking to adults. Don’t be afraid to try to start a conversation with an older person.