Meeting people, participating in groups, and putting yourself in new social situations is a great way to expand your horizons. Not only is it fun, but you can also learn a few things, build genuine connections, and potentially meet your new lesbian partner.
Many people have asked me for advice on how to show up in a group. It’s important to always be mindful of how you’re showing up—because your presence, attitude, and energy can have a strong effect on others (whether you realize it or not). Hopefully, you’ll have a positive effect!
Knowing how to conduct yourself in a group setting is not so much a skill as it is an awareness. Whether it’s online or in-person, always remember that you’re not the only one in the room. Other people are there. It’s not the “you” show. It’s about the group.
That said, here are 14 tips on how to show up in a group setting (and really, life in general).
Try to bring positive energy to the room. You’re probably in a group where others are trying to maintain positivity in their lives. So bring a positive outlook. Act like you’re happy to be there.
Smile, laugh, compliment others, and say how nice it is to see everyone. Be lighthearted. (If you truly don’t want to be there, then you can politely excuse yourself and leave.)
Come prepared with something you’d like to share. Have a few things in mind that you might want to bring up during the group event. For example, you could ask the group a question, or ask for opinions, advice, or recommendations. Tell a funny story, share an anecdote, or share a comment on a current event. Bring up a movie you recently watched, a great book or quote you read, something you ate, or a great restaurant you found. Don’t feel like you need to bring a whole dissertation. One simple share can go a long way.
Come ready to listen. Being in a group setting exposes you to new and diverse perspectives. You may hear something that sparks excitement in you to make a change. Or maybe something makes you curious to try a new activity. But none of this can happen if you’re not listening. Be present, and give the group your full attention.
Ask questions, then ask follow-up questions. Be curious about what others think. For example, if someone says they just found an amazing new hairstylist in your city, you could say, “I’m actually looking for a new stylist in that area. Do you mind sharing who you found?”
Beware of how much “space” you’re taking up. Don’t monopolize the time by talking the entire time. But also…don’t just sit there in silence and not contribute anything to the conversation. Your presence matters. But your presence isn’t the only one that matters. If you’re shy, challenge yourself to ask someone a question. If you’re an extrovert, challenge yourself to listen more.
Don’t treat a social setting like it’s group therapy. This isn’t the place to say inappropriate things, such as super-personal experiences that might be triggering to other people (like sexual assault). It’s also not the place to unload deep emotional wounds or trauma. Have some appropriate boundaries. Oversharing and over-focusing on all the bad shit that happened in your life can bring the whole group down. (It also makes people not want to engage with you.) Life is definitely hard—but much of how we experience things depends on our outlook. If you need therapy or counseling, I recommend an EFT counselor.
If you drink, don’t get drunk. Nobody wants to see you lose control of yourself. Keep yourself composed out of respect for the other people in the group (and yourself).
Don’t complain about things. This can be a tough one because you might not even realize you’re complaining. Instead of casually voicing to someone, “This coffee tastes gross”…try finding something to be grateful for. “I’m alive, I get to be in this amazing experience known as ‘life,’ and my partner might be in this room.”
Don’t nitpick, correct people, or argue about unimportant details. Your role in a social group setting is NOT to be a contentious lawyer arguing in court. You’re here to meet new people, share, listen, and connect.
Don’t make judgments. Everybody has flaws. Everybody’s imperfect. And everyone’s at different stages in life with different levels of awareness. What you’re judging is probably something you’ve done in the past in some way, shape, or form. So try to have compassion instead of judgment.
Don’t tell people how they should act or behave, or give unsolicited advice. Advice is best received when someone asks for it and genuinely wants to receive it. If it’s not requested, it usually falls on deaf ears. Plus, unsolicited advice can be annoying (and not even applicable).
Be careful with sarcasm and teasing. It can easily get lost in translation, especially on Zoom. Sarcasm can be insulting. It hinders the group’s ability to make connections with each other and inadvertently causes discomfort in others.