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From socially awkward to life of the party, strike up a conversation anywhere

By: Natasha Archary


We’ve all been there. As confident and gutsy as you may be in a room full of people who know and love you, it’s quite a different ballgame when it’s a room full of strangers, leaving you feeling socially awkward.

Sweaty palms, heart palpitations, the nervous and awkwardly stammered response to a greeting is daunting. Mingling over drinks and canapes isn’t just an expectation, it’s a requirement. But if you’re feeling a little out of your comfort zone, rest assured you’re not alone.

Research from Simon-Baron Cohen and Oxford University found that “awkward” individuals have an unusually intense focus, with a strong bend towards interests that revolve around rules and logic. Like math, technology or engineering.

So it might not be that you’re socially incapable, it could be that small talk at social gatherings is not your gin and tonic. So is it possible to go from socially awkward to the life of the party?

Why yes, yes it is.


Go from socially awkward to life of the party and strike up a conversation with someone anywhere!

  • Body Contact

Pre-COVID, a hug would have been a solid ice-breaker. Now, the most you can do is a quick pat on the back. In most social settings a firm handshake would suffice. But many people are still avoiding physical contact today, and if physical interaction is not something you can get around, smile and offer a polite greeting.

  • General Knowledge

A quick rule to follow when attending a talk or event, is to have some background on the keynote speakers and/or possible high profile guests. When you need a direction to steer the conversation, it’s always easy to quip on about why Vin Diesel (he’s not) is in South Africa than the weather.

If that’s not your strong point, basic general knowledge of current affairs, a trending twitter topic, sport fixture or the like are good go-to’s for convos.

“New season, new coach, new manager, but same Manchester United, hey?” 

An example of a good opening conversation if you know someone is keen on sports 

  • Punctuality

When you’re attending an event, it may be easier to simply arrive later than the invite says.

But we’re trying to get you over the awkwardness so we break that cycle. Showing up on time or slightly ahead of time gives you an advantage. You can scout the room for the big names you’ll want to introduce yourself to.

It also gives you a chance to choose where you want to be seated, unless it’s assigned seating, you don’t want to be squeezed in towards the end of the table.

  • Jokes

Keep the jokes to a minimum, especially if it’s within the first five minutes of meeting someone. It’s better to end the night with a memorable joke, so the next time you meet the same people they remember you accordingly. Keep the jokes as clean as possible unless you’ve read your crowd well, it could leave you with inappropriate egg on your face.

  • Forget what they think

Often, we’re so caught up on what people think of us and that’s what holds us back socially. Behavioural analysis will have you under constant scrutiny of every physical tick you may have.

Focusing on body posture and language the whole night is not going to do you any good. So just smile, try to be calm and enjoy the night. Take a break and step outside if you must but the more you put yourself out there and engage face to face, the more comfortable you’ll become.

Also read: Department of Education to investigate defamatory Kelly Khumalo video


Written by: Natasha


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POPIA ActTo promote the protection of personal information processed by public and private bodies; to introduce certain conditions so as to establish minimum requirements for the processing of personal information; to provide for the establishment of an Information Regulator to exercise certain powers and to perform certain duties and functions in terms of this Act and the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000; to provide for the issuing of codes of conduct; to provide for the rights of persons regarding unsolicited electronic communications and automated decision making; to regulate the flow of personal information across the borders of the Republic; and to provide for matters connected therewith.


  • section 14 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, provides that everyone has the right to privacy;
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  • consonant with the constitutional values of democracy and openness, the need for economic and social progress, within the framework of the information society, requires the removal of unnecessary impediments to the free flow of information, including personal information;


  • regulate, in harmony with international standards, the processing of personal information by public and private bodies in a manner that gives effect to the right to privacy subject to justifiable limitations that are aimed at protecting other rights and important interests,
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1.1.“Personal Information” means information relating to an identifiable, living, natural person and where it is applicable, identifiable, existing juristic person, including all information as defined in the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013. 

1.2  Parliament assented to POPIA on 19 November 2013. The commencement date of section 1Part A of Chapter 5section 112 and section 113 was 11 April 2014. The commencement date of the other sections was 1 July 2020 (with the exception of section 110 and 114(4). The President of South Africa has proclaimed the POPI commencement date to be 1 July 2020.

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1.4. “Website” means the website of the KAYA 959 at URL or such other URL as KAYA 959 may choose from time to time.   

  1. Status and Amendments

2.1. KAYA 959 respects your privacy. This privacy policy statement sets out KAYA 959’s information gathering and dissemination practices in respect of the Website. 

2.2. This Privacy Policy governs the processing of personal information provided to KAYA 959 through your use of the Website. 

2.3. Please note that, due to legal and other developments, KAYA 959 may amend these terms and conditions from time to time.  

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3.2. Where you submit Personal Information (such as name, address, telephone number and email address) via the website (e.g. through completing any online form) the following principles are observed in the processing of that information: 

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3.2.2. KAYA 959 will only process personal information in a manner that is adequate, relevant and not excessive in the context of the purpose for which it is processed. 

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3.2.4. KAYA 959 will keep records of all personal Information collected and the specific purpose for which it was collected for a period of 1 (one) year from the date on which it was last used. 

3.2.5. KAYA 959 will not disclose any personal information relating to you to any third party unless your prior written agreement is obtained or KAYA 959 is required to do so by law. 

3.2.6. If personal information is released with your consent KAYA 959 will retain a record of the information released, the third party to which it was released, the reason for the release and the date of release, for a period of 1 (one) year from the date on which it was last used. 

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  1. Queries

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