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Be The Life and Soul of The Party

By: Lisa Thiel - Updated: 9 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Attention Monopolise Mediator Cocktail

Don't you envy that woman standing in the middle of the big group at parties, happily taking part in conversations all around her - the one people look to when it's time to decide what to do or where to go? Of course you do - everyone wants to be in the thick of the fun and action. Here's how to get off the sidelines and learn how to command people's attention and respect when you're in a gathering.

Make The First Move…

It's intimidating, but if you go up to people and introduce yourself rather than waiting for them to come over, they're more likely to remember who you are. Bear in mind that most people will be just as wary about initiating conversation, and many shy types will be grateful you've taken the burden off them.

…But Don't Monopolise Things

There's nothing worse than getting stuck talking to somebody who, no matter what the subject, manages to steer the conversation back round to themselves. Always reciprocate another person's interest - if they've asked what you do, make a point of questioning them about their job, hobbies or family, and take your cue from their answers.

So instead of waxing lyrical about your Italian experiences when they mention a trip they took to Rome, ask what they enjoyed seeing the most, or whether they made any surprising discoveries, before adding your own thoughts. Not only will people then remember you as a good conversationalist, you'll end up having a far more interesting discussion because you'll be learning things you didn't already know.

Get People's Attention…

In a larger group of people, the secret of getting noticed is timing. Wait for a lull in the discussion to introduce your own insights. Apart from ensuring people will automatically tune in to what you're saying, this gives you time to weigh up the pros and cons of the topic and come up with something interesting to say, rather than just slipping in the occasional 'absolutely' or 'well, perhaps, but…'

…Without Showing Off

Competing with people in any area of life usually only makes them more determined to beat you - and conversation's no exception. Don't shout over others' remarks or issue loud, scathing put-downs rubbishing their ideas. It's flagrant bad manners to show such a lack of respect for what other people have to say, and will garner you the wrong kind of attention.

Make Killer Suggestions…

Nobody wants to seem pushy when everyone's umming and ahing over a place to spend the evening, or sitting in the pub wondering where to go next - but a decisive voice is often the only way out of an impasse. Wait for your conversational lull, then 'pitch' your idea to the group with plenty of enthusiasm.

Saying 'We could try…' then naming the place isn't always enough to convince, but if you say 'there's this great little bar round the corner, it's got an amazing cocktail list/great music/a cabinet on the wall full of vintage Barbie dolls', then people's curiosity will be sparked and you'll have given them a talking point when you arrive at your chosen location.

…Or Help Others Reach Conclusions

If several people have different ideas about what to do and you're not one of them, step into the role of mediator. Ask each of the people practical, neutral questions such as how close their chosen venue is, whether everybody's dressed for it and what it'll cost - questions that will help the others in the group distinguish between the choices. Once everyone's had their say, propose a vote for each destination - and hey presto, you've organised the evening's entertainment without getting involved in the row.

Be Yourself - To The Best of Your Ability

You might long to be a fashion trendsetter, a brilliant raconteur or the wittiest thing since Little Britain, but trying too hard is about the least stylish thing you can do. People don't want to talk to the person who's constantly struggling to maintain an image - it's much more fun to be with the one who's relaxed, calm and confident, because they inspire other people to feel good about themselves too. After all, how can you be the life and soul of the party if you aren't comfortable with your own life and soul?

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