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The holidays are an excellent opportunity to socialize, make friends, have fun with others and be grateful for the people in your life.

But if you’re somewhat on the shy side and you have trouble opening up during social interactions, holidays can be a pain in the neck, because you know others socialize and enjoy themselves while you’re missing out on all the fun.

Well, this year is going to be different.

As a social confidence coach, helping others overcome their shyness and be more outgoing is the core of my job description. I want to share with you 7 great ways to be more social during the upcoming holiday season.

1. Fill up Your Social Agenda

Forget about spending Christmas Eve watching a movie alone or the holiday vacation reading a 1200-page book. The first key step to enjoying meaningful interactions during the holidays is to get involved in social activities instead of avoiding them. Any social activity you can find, try to attend. Family dinner, corporate party, friends gathering, drinking night, holiday trip — anything goes.

Even if it may not sound appealing at first — or just the thought of attending it makes you feel nervous — you will typically discover it’s a lot more fun once you actually go to it.

2. Organize Social Events

There is no need to wait for others to organize some social activity and invite you, too. Take the initiative, arrange your own social events, and invite others to attend.

Throw a pre-Christmas party or a post-New Year’s Eve party to finish all the leftovers. Organize a poker night or a simple get together with old friends. There are plenty of things you can do. And when you’re the host or the initiator of a certain social activity, since you’re on your ‘turf’, it’s easier to feel confident and be more social.

3. Bear Gifts

All people love to receive gifts; it’s not just children that do at this time of year. Getting gifts makes them feel appreciated. This is why gifts are a good way to elicit people’s goodwill, and the holidays are the perfect occasion to bear gifts.

So when you visit or meet someone, take a little time to buy them a nice little holiday present. It doesn’t have to be something expensive — just something interesting. Remember: it’s the gesture that matters the most.

4. Take More Risks

People who are shy or reserved are archetypal “risk avoiders” in social settings. They don’t want to say anything improper, be rude or embarrass themselves. Consequently, they avoid speaking their mind and being authentic in social interactions.

If this is your case, this is a terrific moment to start taking more risks when interacting with others. Speak your mind, open up and be as spontaneous as you can. If others like you, fine. If they don’t, don’t worry — nobody has ever died because of it.

5. Seek the Friendly Persons

If you have a hard time starting conversations with people at parties or other social events, the best advice I can offer you is to look for the people who seem the friendliest in the room and start by talking with them.

The fact they are gregarious and positive heartens you to be the same. It boosts your self-assurance and, eventually, you will also feel confident enough to talk with other persons as well.

6. Use the Holidays to Come Up with Conversation Topics

During the holidays, one of the best topics to talk about is the holidays. People are generally in the moment, enjoying the festivities, and they like to share them with others.

During conversation, ask people how they’ve spent the holidays so far, what their plans for the next few days are, what they’re doing for New Year’s Eve, what presents they got for Christmas and so on. There is an abundance of things to talk about regarding the holidays — so go for it.

7. Listen, but Also Talk

A good conversation is a two-way street. It’s important to be a good listener and encourage the other person to talk and open up, but you also want to talk and open up yourself.

For many people, this can be an issue. They tend to feel uncomfortable with disclosing themselves. There is only one method to overcome this, and that is to deliberately disclose yourself more, despite the aversion you have. As you get used to it, it gets a lot easier.

In Closing

As you open up and become more social, and start letting go of the need to have the approval of others, you’ll find yourself having a lot of fun during social interactions and fully enjoying the holidays.

On that note, I wish you the best — and most social — holidays you’ve ever had.

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