How to Be More Outgoing, No Matter How Anxious You Feel

Woman sitting in the bathroom at a party.
Don't beat yourself up if you try and fail to be more outgoing. Getty / Ben Edwards

You have been invited to a social gathering, and your mind is racing. A part of you wants to go, to laugh with friends, and enjoy marvelous food and wine.

But there’s another part of you that wants to hide.

How can you possibly survive hours among a large group of people, maintain witty conversation, and manage not to trip/fall/offend anyone/spill drinks on strangers? And why is this so hard for you and no one else?

If you feel shy, socially anxious, or otherwise awkward in group interactions, you aren’t alone.

If you’d like to overcome that awkwardness and find your inner social butterfly, here are some tips to help you get through the door and away from the safety of the food table at your next soiree.


One of the first things to acknowledge in social situations is also one of the least obvious: Almost no one is a natural at them.

Even the most extroverted, outgoing person at the party feels a twinge of anxiety walking through the door, mingling in the crowd, and dancing on the makeshift dance floor.

Most people don’t talk about those moments, but they exist nearly universally.

So, to feel more settled when entering a gathering, sometimes you have to see your panic in everyone else, too.

When you realize how focused everyone else is on keeping themselves from looking foolish or otherwise exposing their awkwardness, you have the chance to settle your own mind and concentrate on helping alleviate their anxieties instead.


If you don’t feel the least bit outgoing, you still can pretend you do.

Make a game out of matching the energy of each person you meet. That way, high-energy, outgoing people naturally coach you through your own discomfort because they offer you a prototype to mimic.

Plus, many outgoing people enjoy fellow outgoing companions. So, once you establish a brief connection with them, you can relax and allow them to take the lead in future conversations with other like-minded people.


People love to talk about themselves.

So, if you find yourself feeling awkward or anxious, turn your full attention to learning as much as you can about someone else in the room. This doesn’t mean turning a party into an inquisition. But, in small doses, turning a conversation back to your companion is an easy way to ease your own uneasiness.

Learning about other people at a social gathering also puts you in a unique position as a networker.

Your attention to the likes, concerns, work, and hobbies of others sets you up to link people throughout the course of the evening.

Everyone involved feels validated, and they perceive you as a valuable resource as well as a good conversationalist.


Not all parties are worth the suffering. If you are extremely anxious about attending a function, give yourself permission to try to attend it for a set amount of time or until you have interacted with a given number of people.

Until you reach that milestone, commit wholeheartedly to enjoying yourself as best you can. Sometimes, you may find yourself exceeding your maximum time without realizing it.

When you do, decide whether you have the energy to keep going.

There is no wrong answer; honor how you feel, and be kind to yourself regardless of what you resolve to do next.

Not everyone is meant to be outgoing, and that’s OK. Do the best you can, and be proud of yourself for trying!

Was this page helpful?