How to Make Meeting Someone Less Awkward

Be prepared with small talk ideas when meeting someone new.
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First meetings can be awkward because you don't know the other person. If you are lucky enough to have a mutual friend introduce you, then you won't be left to make small talk alone. In those instances when it is all up to you, be prepared with a few conversation topics and try to relax. Being tense will make others uncomfortable -- so calm those nervous habits and be friendly.

1 Practice Introductions

When you have practice meeting people, it can make the process less awkward. Learn the basic rules of etiquette for introductions, such as standing to meet someone and extending a handshake, as described in the Etiquette International article, "Introductions." When introduced, repeat the other person's name, and then use it a few times in conversation so that you will remember it. If you haven't been introduced to someone, be the first to offer a hello, writes communications consultant Debra Fine in the article "Tips for Small Talk Success" on her website. For example, say something like, "Hi, my name is Angela. We are in the same English class."

2 Confident Body Language

People who are confident put others at ease. Even if you are feeling nervous when you first meet someone, it is best to put on a brave face and try to appear comfortable and relaxed, says Fine. Be aware of your body language and make sure you come across as friendly. For example, when first meeting someone, be sure to make eye contact, turn your body toward the person, smile and offer a firm handshake.

3 Small Talk

It isn't enough to get through an introduction -- you need to be prepared to make small talk. If Jane just introduced you to her cousin Katie, it will be pretty awkward if silence follows. Be prepared with topics of conversation, says author Gretchen Rubin, in the Psychology Today article, "A Menu of Options for Small Talk." These might include the situation ("This is a great party!"), celebrity gossip ("Did you hear what happened at the Grammy Awards last night?"), or an open-ended question ("What do you like to do for fun?"). Don't worry about coming up with the perfect thing to say.

4 Be a Detective

If you know you will be meeting someone in advance, do a bit of detective work, advises psychology professor Susan Krauss Whitbourne in the Psychology Today article, "10 Tips to Talk About Anything With Anyone." Find out what you can about the person so that you can ask a specific question. For example, you might ask Katie how she likes figure skating. Show an interest, and the awkwardness of meeting someone new will vanish.

Arlin Cuncic has been writing about mental health since 2007, specializing in social anxiety disorder and depression topics. She served as the managing editor of the "Journal of Attention Disorders" and has worked in a variety of research settings. Cuncic holds an M.A. in clinical psychology.