Quiet types may not love social gatherings, but they’re not always content to bury their heads in the sand, either. To help them feel more at ease in a group setting, match and mirror their voice volume and rate of speech, and stand beside them, rather than in front of them, when you’re chatting, suggests body language expert Patti Wood. And don’t feel uncomfortable with ‘awkward’ silences. “Research shows introverts may need as long as eight seconds of quiet before they respond,” says Wood. Maintain eye contact and wait – chances are good that they’ll come back with a thoughtful response.
You may not think extroverts need help in social situations, but they sometimes feel pressured to keep the conversation going. Stoke their confidence and allow them to be in the spotlight by asking questions. “Your interest will spur them on,” said Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, author of The Genius of Opposites. “I always ask about someone’s shoes or jewellery,” investment advisor Anne-Marie Fowler told Real Simple magazine. “Both make statements about a person, and that opens up a lot of other topics.”
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It may feel awkward to chat with your boss outside the office, but a social gathering is a good opportunity to deepen your relationship and improve your rapport with your manager, and that new level of comfort can make working together easier. First, resist the urge to talk shop, advises communication consultant and speech coach Bill Lampton. “Demonstrate that you have an interesting life outside of the corporation,” he said. Before the gathering, remind yourself of what you know about your boss’s personal life – does she/he have kids? Does a certain genre of movie, art or book interest her/him? Armed with this information, you can ask pertinent questions that puts your boss as ease and showcases your listening skills.