How to be part of a group without saying anything smart or funny


Most of my life, I’ve been torn like the girl in the comic above.

I don’t want to stay home and feel lonely, and I don’t want to go to a party and feel awkward and exhausted by all the interaction.

It’s human to not want to go to some high energy, uncomfortable, and loud social place when we’re comfortable at home.

A friend of mine even said:

“Cancelling a plan last minute is like Heroin.”

I was at a meetup last weekend. Two of the participants were each other’s opposites:

One woman was active in the conversation pretty much all the time. (This approach makes people notice you, but it drains your energy.)

Then there was a guy there who kept to himself. He had even brought his laptop and barely said a sentence during the entire weekend. (This is easy, but it makes you unapproachable. No one talked to him, because he didn’t seem interested in socializing.)

Few know that there’s a hack that’s both easy and makes you part of the group.

When I discovered this hack, socializing became so much more enjoyable for me.

At social events, a circle of people often forms after a while. It could be around a dinner table, in the sofas, or people just standing in a circle.

Here’s my hack to make socializing easy:

I go to that group and pay attention to the conversation: I show that I’m listening with facial expressions, laughs, and hums.

Here’s the trick: You don’t need to be funny, talk, or say smart things to be part of a group. As long as you show that you’re interested in the conversation.

People will feel like you’re part of the conversation. They won’t even notice that you actually don’t say much.

Most people fail here because they aren’t good listeners and zone out. If you zone out, you end up in your own world. You don’t laugh when others laugh or react to the conversation. That’s when you come off as distant and weird. People will assume you don’t want to talk to them, so they’ll avoid you.

But if you show that you are engaged in the conversation, even if you don’t say anything, you come off as approachable. Imagine how much energy it will save you when all you have to do is to listen rather than constantly having to come up with things to say.

But David, people will think I’m weird if I don’t say anything!

In a group conversation, only one can talk at the time. This means that at any given time, everyone but one is listening. We only come off as weird if we stop listening and reacting to the conversation. If you join their world by reacting to the conversation, you’ll fit right in.

Still don’t believe me? Do this: Pay attention to others in group conversations who are reactive, and notice how they feel like part of the group of friends even when they don’t say anything.

Whenever I have the opportunity to go somewhere but I don’t feel like socializing, I tell myself this: David, go there, approach a group conversation, and just listen and react. That’s all you need to do. Listen and react.

Then, when I’m there, the group often touches on some subject I’m interested in and want to join in about. And if nothing comes up, I’ll still come across as an approachable and outgoing person.

To prepare yourself to try this hack: First, think about when you last canceled plans to some social event without a reason. How did you feel about the event before you canceled? What excuses popped up in your head?

Now, the next time you get that feeling before an event, remind yourself of the hack: Approach a group conversation, listen, and react.

To improve your chances of success, write down in the comments one time you’ve canceled an event without a good reason. This will help you be more aware of your actions, which is powerful when it comes to improving. It will also help inspire others in the community who can relate.

Image credit: https://www.instagram.com/shreyadoodles/

David Morin is the founder of SocialPro. He's been writing about social skills since 2012. Follow on Twitter or read more.

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