Social Anxiety Disorder Treatment and Therapy Social Skills How to Join a Conversation By Arlin Cuncic Arlin Cuncic Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." Learn about our editorial process Updated on March 19, 2020 Fact checked Verywell Mind content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Fact checkers review articles for factual accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. We rely on the most current and reputable sources, which are cited in the text and listed at the bottom of each article. Content is fact checked after it has been edited and before publication. Learn more. by Emily Swaim Fact checked by Emily Swaim LinkedIn Emily is a board-certified science editor who has worked with top digital publishing brands like Voices for Biodiversity, Study.com, GoodTherapy, Vox, and Verywell. Learn about our editorial process Print Cultura / Benedicte Vanderreydt / Getty Images The ability to smoothly join a conversation is a key social skill. If you find yourself at a party or gathering with people whom you don't know well, being able to confidently approach a group or individual will ensure that you feel included and have a chance to make new friends. How to Join a Conversation 1. Prepare Topics for Conversation Before ever trying to join a group in conversation, do some reading on topics so that you will be up to date and be able to share your opinions. Read the news every day. Follow popular topics like sports and entertainment. At the very least, be aware of any current events that are likely to come up in conversation. All of these strategies will help you when you join a conversation. Not only will you have a point of reference for what is being discussed, but you might also find that you can add a new perspective or share something unique with the group, such as by talking about your travel experiences or favorite musicians. 2. Choose a Group to Join Choose a group of people who are in a conversation that you would like to join. Look for a group that includes someone you already know or that is talking about a topic that you have interest in or know something about. However, don't hesitate too long trying to find the perfect group! Your goal is not to have the world's best conversation, but rather to gain experience entering into a conversation that is already ongoing. 3. Listen and Make Eye Contact Hover on the edges of the group and listen until you know what they are talking about. Make eye contact with one or two people to show your interest in what is being said. Individuals with social anxiety are less likely to make eye contact, which can make you seem aloof or standoffish. Try extra hard to look people in the eye as you talk to put others at ease. 4. Be Polite When Entering the Conversation Wait for a natural break in the conversation before you speak. Instead of jumping into the conversation stream, politely acknowledge that you are just joining the group by saying something like "Are you talking about last night's game?" or "Can I ask a question?" 5. Show Interest in the Group Be interested in what others have to say. Listen carefully and reflect back what you have heard. Ask open-ended questions that encourage others to speak and share opinions and stories about yourself to help others get to know you. People with social anxiety disorder are less likely to hold up their end of a conversation, so it is critical that you try especially hard to show you are engaged with what others have to say, especially when joining a new group. Think about it this way—would you be more likely to want to talk to someone who appears warm and friendly or fearful and closed off? Be the person whom you would want to talk to, and you will find that others will warm up to you more quickly. Practice Joining Conversations Now its time to put all of these tips into practice. As you go about your daily life, look for opportunities to join conversations. While in the past you might have shied away from a group conversation, make a point of joining groups solely for the practice! An easy way to remember how to join a group in conversation is through the acronym "CLASS": Choose a group Listen Ask a question Show interest Share about yourself The next time you see a group you'd like to join, remind yourself of the steps involved using the CLASS acronym. Getting Outside Your Comfort Zone What if you continually find yourself in groups of people, but just can't force yourself to go outside your comfort zone and talk? One way to overcome this type of avoidance is to purposefully place yourself in a role that requires you to speak to other people. For example, you might offer to take on a leadership role in a group. This new role will force you out of your comfort zone and get you talking—especially if you are the type of person who always wants to do a good job. Just be sure to take breaks from socializing if it tends to wear you down. Over time, you should find it easier to engage in ongoing conversation. A Word From Verywell Joining a conversation can seem frightening if you live with social anxiety. By following the steps involved in joining a group in conversation, you will gradually find it easier. However, if your social anxiety is severe, it may be helpful to seek out a mental health professional who can work with you to overcome your fears. 2 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Howell AN, Zibulsky DA, Srivastav A, Weeks JW. Relations among social anxiety, eye contact avoidance, state anxiety, and perception of interaction performance during a live conversation. Cogn Behav Ther. 2015;45(2):1-12. doi:10.1080/16506073.2015.1111932 Mein C, Fay N, Page AC. Deficits in joint action explain why socially anxious individuals are less well liked. J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry. 2016;50:147-51. doi:10.1016/j.jbtep.2015.07.001 Additional Reading MIT Graduate Admissions. When it's hard to talk: Cultivating meaningful relationships in graduate school despite social anxiety. Published October 2018. Williamette University. Managing social anxiety and making new friends in college. By Arlin Cuncic Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." 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