How to Join a Conversation

Teenagers talking in a dorm.
Move beyond social anxiety by joining others in conversation. Getty / Cultura/Benedicte Vanderreydt

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 even 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.

But 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 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 to get to know you.

Individuals 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 be receptive to 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 that 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.

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.

Was this page helpful?