1. Stop relying on complaints as an icebreaker.
2. Actually remember everyone’s name.
So hard, but so important. Try repeating someone’s name when you’re introduced. If that still doesn’t work, try a little word association (in your head!). Like OK, that’s Mary, who’s Mary-ed to Steve. Whatever works.
3. Never ditch the person you came with.
This obviously applies to parties and dates, but it’s also a good tip for just general day-to-day stuff. If you’re with a friend and run into someone else you know, make every effort to politely catch up and then return to the person you were with — or at least introduce them and keep everyone involved in the conversation. There’s nothing worse than standing there while two people catch up and awkwardly wondering if you should jump in the conversation or just wait quietly in the background.
4. Drop your tongue when you’re listening.
When someone else is talking, make a point to rest your tongue at the bottom of your mouth. You’ll notice your facial muscles relax (which can signal to someone that you’re really engaged). Plus, you’ll be less tempted to interrupt.
5. Talk about ideas, not people.
Whenever you’re struggling for something to talk about, steer the conversation toward ideas and things rather than people. This way you’re not relying on gossip for social interactions.