Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

22 Dec 2008, 7:37 a.m.

On Shyness And Parties

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2008 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Thanks to Tor for hosting a holiday party last week! Leonard, some friends and I went. I met people so notable that they have Wikipedia pages! Indeed, how can anything be more star-studded than that. In case you want proof we were there, we can provide photographic proof.

We had a good time, and that helped me articulate some tips for helping a shy person be comfortable at a party:

  1. Ensure that he has a few friends there he can talk to.
  2. Start conversations on your own to find interesting people. Then, if you find someone interesting, get the conversation onto a topic you know your shy friend will like, and introduce him.
  3. If the party's at a bar, take care of logistics: getting drinks from a bartender, finding the party in the back room, etc.
  4. Look for quieter and less crowded areas and let your shy friend know about them so he can move there.
  5. Be ready to leave the moment he is.

Sometimes people come to parties I'm visiting and I see that they aren't talking to anyone and look unhappy. In such cases I often go over and introduce myself and start a conversation. I'm assuming that such people wish to be in conversations but fear to start them. Anyone have insight to share?