“How to behave in a group conversation?”

By Katherine Hood on May 25, 2024


Submitted Request..

This post is an answer to a submitted question. It aims to provide help and solutions to overcome the issue.

Podcast version: HERE

Quote: “It takes effort and energy to really listen to someone, give them that gift. If you can't do that, you're not in a conversation. You are two individuals shouting out sentences at each other."

Adding to the quote:

Truly listening to someone requires a significant amount of practice, being intentional, effort and energy. Not only is it an art, its a skill that will benefit you in all areas of your life. Think about the last time that someone really listened to you, heard you where you felt deeply understood, and important. The benefits of giving someone the gift of feeling heard is immeasurable. When we actively listen to others, we are showing them the respect and attention they deserve. By giving someone the gift of our full attention, we are acknowledging their thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Doesn’t mean you have to agree either. The energy put out is what you will get reflected back if the other individual is of similar emotional energy.  

Submitted Question:

“How do you react when you're in a group talking, everyone's having fun and laughing, but they ignore what you say?
I've had it happen pretty badly sometimes, especially when my friends are talking to their friends that I don't know. Part of it is probably my inability to talk to new people who have no interest in me. I ask questions and they just ignore me or look at me, then go back to talking. Now I know you suggest just walking away, which is probably the right thing to do. But I want to talk sometimes too. Even though I am an introvert, I want to have fun and feel included in the group. How should I think or react?”

My Response if we were in a coaching setting. Although without being able to ask questions, I may assume or use scenarios to fill in the gaps.

It sounds like you’re wanting to be a part of the group discussions, be a part of the group, and fit in. 

Attempting to pressure yourself into making friends is the most effective way to attract individuals who are not suitable as friends.

If we were in a coaching relationship I would be curious what aspect is the most important, or worded differently, what has the greatest sting that keeps you up at night from this question? 

There’s several things mentioned and I could go a few different ways. I would want greater clarity on what it is that you’re wanting exactly. There’s more under the surface. 

Desiring and seeking fulfillment in any way from anything external especially if it’s not in alignment with who you are sets you up for a roller coaster of emotions. I get the sense that you recently experienced this group interaction and left feeling disappointed, different, frustrated, left out, and confused.

How do you want to feel? 

I get a pretty good sense of how you feel now, in that situation, and perhaps others, to help and to support you. I would need to know what you envision, what you want, what I would see you doing if I waved a magic wand and granted you one wish. I would need you to articulate what it is that you want so well that I could visualize it as well. 

This is sometimes difficult for new clients, and if you can’t articulate it, visualize it or imagine it, how can it come true? 

  • Who are you being in a social setting? 

  • What thoughts are you having when in a group of people? 

  • How are these impacting your behavior?

The statement and the way it’s worded in ownership language, “I am introverted” indicates this is who you are, you believe in this deeply, it’s not something you’re interested in changing. This for me stands out over the rest, and again if I was coaching you something else may be more pressing. Coaching is about you driving the car, dictating the direction of where you want to go in the conversation, so I would yield to what you’d want greater clarity on. 

You see your life is what you think of most and if you’re deeply rooted in being introverted and “not a people person” that will be how you feel and your behaviors, mannerisms, body language, facial expressions, and energy will follow. This is off putting for those in a group environment especially filled with a bunch of strangers that know nothing about you. 

Paradoxically, if we listen to our negative thoughts and labels, the very thing we fear the most we get. (loneliness).

People want to feel comfortable, safe and at ease to approach you, ask you about your interests, what your goals are and hobbies. Safety comes with someone whose energy is open, relaxed, inviting, warm and welcoming. When you have positivity and a sense of openness, others are more likely to feel drawn to you and engage in meaningful conversations. Being approachable and friendly not only creates a welcoming atmosphere, but also fosters connections and builds trust with those around you. So, remember to maintain a positive and inviting energy to attract others and create a sense of comfort and safety in your interactions.

I would also be curious what it is that you’re wanting from this specific group of people if that’s important to you. When we are overthinking and dwelling on how other people are and dip into FOMO (fear of missing out) and comparison it can get us out of alignment with our values, morals, identity and we tend to lose ourselves by trying to fit it. 

Are these people your people?

Do these particular people share common interests and the same or similar emotional intelligence? It’s really difficult to connect with people with vastly different values, and commonality.  

I also see people that due to their anxiety and not getting help and support to overcome their anxiety they start to not only believe they are an anxious person they also label themselves (if someone else doesn’t) with being introverted when both are thought habit loops that if left to grow will further isolate a person from living life fully. 

The term “react” has me wondering what that means for you?  Reacting usually comes from fear, again not sure if this word is being used meaning something else, and I apologize if it is. Reacting often doesn’t land well in communication with one or more people and usually is very confusing.  Responding, engaging, connecting, bonding and building goodwill with others is a healthy way of engaging with people and typically well received. 

Your value is not determined by others' opinions or actions. Instead of placing your worth on others' perceptions, focus on cultivating self-love and self-acceptance

When in conversation with others, listening more than speaking is the secret sauce. It’s often assumed that the one that speaks the most is valued and liked the most, and that’s not always true. The person that has well developed listening skills and asks powerful questions is the one that people are often seen as charismatic. Everyone wants to feel seen, heard and important. No one wants a spotlight hog. At least not for long or are secretly viewed as the class clown and everyone loves to witness drama as long as they aren’t involved. 

Finally, what should you think? Actually if you’ve got the skill of listening then you know that you think very little if at all. In fact if you’re thinking about anything, what to say, what story you want to tell, thinking about what they are wearing, thinking about how badly you want to fit in, if you’re wearing the right clothes, if you have body odor, etc your energy and body language will reflect that you don’t care, even if you deeply want to. So the answer is no thinking, none. If I was to summarize it in one word it would be: CURIOSITY.  Develop the skill of listening deeply and ask lots of questions from the curiosity of a 5 year old child. 

I wish you all the best. 

Please share this with anyone you believe would benefit from the insights. Post a comment, I read and reply to them all. Thank you in advance!

If you want to send a question, please send to [email protected] please include: 

  • A coachable question (something that addresses what's in your control, your thoughts, feelings or actions.)

  • And context, explain a situation in the past, currently going through, or worries/concerns of the future, giving me some details on your thoughts and feelings about it. 

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