For many of us, it’s been a long time since the last truly casual meetup with a friend. We complain that we don’t see anybody, yet we’re clumsy and awkward the moment we’re drawn into a social encounter. How to survive when seeing people becomes a thing again? We’re going to walk you through it.

Note: please be patient. It’s been a whole year, and we’re doing our best to remember how this works.

Introduce yourself  

When you meet up with a friend, introduce yourself, because that’s what adults do, right? “Hi, I’m Roberto, 43, no, now 44 years old, electrician, and it’s good to see you again.” Maybe it’s not necessary, but do repeat your name. Your friend, who has probably forgotten who you are, will be grateful.

Get reacquainted 

Ever notice how animals don’t give a damn about awkwardness when it comes to social encounters? They’re just so natural all the time. Follow their lead. Don’t leap right into conversation with your friend. Spend a few minutes examining each other. Sniff your friend’s underarm.

Offer some food or a drink 

No matter if your friend is at your home or if you’re meeting outside, it’s a good idea to offer something to eat or drink. Why? No idea. Most people have their own food and beverages at home, which they consume whenever they want, so... Hmm. Curious.

Find a conversation topic of mutual interest 

Now it’s time to talk, but how to find a topic that pleases both people? From what we remember, the best method is simply to ask. “So, friend, what would you like to discuss during this social encounter?” If that’s too open-ended, be precise. “I am willing to talk about medieval diseases, poodles, and Latvian pop music. What about you?” If you can find a shared interest, prolong the encounter. If not, end it, right?

Strive for balance between talking and listening 

It may seem hard to believe, but people used to instinctively strike a balance between talking and listening. How they managed this is a mystery. It’s probably a good idea to set a timer when your friend starts talking. After five minutes, say, “Time's up, so shut up. It’s my turn.” Yes, those words are a little harsh, but you have to admit using a timer is a great idea.

Have fun 

Last but not least, don’t forget to have fun. Socializing is fun. At least it’s supposed to be. We’re still trying to remember why.