How To: Succeed in Group Settings by Shutting Your Mouth

Succeed in Group Settings by Shutting Your Mouth

What type of person are you in group settings? Are you the social butterfly, eager to get to know everyone and interested in the people more than the setting? Or are you a wallflower, afraid to catch anyone's eye out of fear?

No matter what type of group you're in—a project at work, a dinner party, or even a bar full of strangers—you can make a better impression if you keep quiet. Shut your mouth, and you'll find that what you don't say offers more of an impression than what you do.

It's a Good Idea to Keep Things to Yourself

Although we tend to assume the biggest talker in a group setting is the one who wins over the most people, this isn't necessarily true. In fact, by taking on the traits of a shy group member, we can actually connect on deeper, more meaningful levels than those who are clearly in attendance to make connections.

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As noted at Fast Company, mimicking the behavior of an introvert can make for a more effective role within a group setting. While it might seem most polite and best to introduce yourself and have a brief conversation with everyone, it's actually more meaningful to choose the people you speak with at large events.

Rather than wasting time chatting up the stockbroker you have zero interest in getting to know, or the artist who's clearly not attuned to the same passions, connect only with those who draw you in. Unless another guest, or group member, has something to offer you in the way of advice or networking, you might want to focus your attention on a longer interaction with someone who can.

The most important aspect of group interaction is to make all members feel important. Although you might not get a chance to demonstrate your skill and power to all involved, it's better to take a backseat than to dominate. The loudest voices are certainly remembered—but if you're trying to make a good impression, it's important to remember that smiles and nods can go a long way over repeated or forced anecdotes.

Take a Page Out of the Shyness Book

As Dale Carnegie writes in his famous book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, one of the most effective tactics is silence. While you probably shouldn't hover near the buffet, or keep silent in your chair at a table discussion, shutting up does have its benefits.

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When shy people choose to engage another in conversation, they tend to allow their discussion partner to lead the topics. This, in turn, makes them better listeners. If you aren't focused on when your next turn to speak is, or how you'll work in that anecdote about your newest project, the person you're conversing with will feel more engaged and involved.

So, before you open your mouth and rant about your wonderful merits, consider allowing another to share about themselves first.

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Additionally, though you might be tempted to share information about yourself readily to strangers in a group, you might want to consider keeping more to yourself. According to an interview author Susan Cain gave to NPR, quietness isn't the sign of reclusiveness or an antisocial personality—in fact, those who display introverted attributes are better suited for positions of power.

Those who keep quiet are more proactive and willing to offer freedom, allowing others to run free and express themselves. Essentially, a shy demeanor is a sign of someone who is more attuned to the needs and attitudes of others

Being more introverted and keeping things to yourself can be a better strategy than running wild and talking to every single person at an event. Go ahead, keep quiet—you'll find that people are more intrigued by your silence and secrets than the party's chatterbox.

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