I hate new people (part 2)
Part 2: Some more tips and tricks for making your group more welcoming
(If you haven't read part one yet, you'll find it here.)
Problem: I don’t know what to say to people. I’m not good at conversation.
Conversation is actually a skill that can be learned. Every conversation has an opening, a middle and a closing. The trick is to get through all three in a gracious manner! If you want to know more about how to do it, get in touch with me.
Problem: I do try to talk to people, but they don’t seem to want to talk to me..
Some people do seem very reserved and are hard to chat to. Rather than taking it personally, we need to think about the reason for it. They may be naturally shy, or not used to being talked to. A good rule of thumb is to ask about five questions—but obviously, not all five in a row! If you’re really getting no response, excuse yourself politely. However, if you see the person again, don’t avoid them. Go up, introduce yourself again and ask another five questions! Always make at least three attempts at different times to talk. People do warm up in the end.
Problem: I don't want any new friends
If you can say this, at least you're honest. But you are also making your world smaller and cutting yourself off from potential fun, blessing and joy. You might fear that there is not enough room in your life to love many people, but I guarantee you will be surprised. The more you love, the more love there is to go around and the more life expands around you. Try it and see.
Problem: What if I welcome someone who’s a regular? I’ll feel really stupid.
You might feel stupid, but you’ll have missed an opportunity to meet someone! A good way to start is: “I don’t know you. Are you a visitor, or am I just really dumb for not recognising you?” The same applies if you forget someone’s name. Chances are, they’ve probably forgotten yours too. “You’ll think I’m so stupid, but can you remind me of your name? I’m so sorry!”
Problem: “I just don’t see any new people!”
My experience is that in any church or youth group, there’s usually at least one ‘newbie’ a month. Make it a practice to look for new people rather than people you know as you walk in.
Problem: Watch out for the six week rule
The most welcoming group can do a great job making newcomers feel at home, but after new people have been there six weeks, the welcome begins to wear off, and newbies are left to fend for themselves. Keep up the welcoming, and start to include new people in your networks. Invite them out, put them on e-mail and phone lists. Keep talking to them.
Problem: Watch out for excluding body language and in-jokes.
You may be trying to introduce your new person to a group of people standing around. But watch out for the subtle signs of exclusion: conversations can quickly turn to topics that the outsider can’t join in, or to jokes that only the insiders get. Even the way a group is standing can also be unwelcoming. A group of people standing in a circle is almost impossible to join. Try to stand in a horseshoe shape instead—it's a simple change that makes a lot of difference.