Dear Abby: When I was a young adult, I had difficulty speaking with strangers. I recall, some years later, attending a party in honor of someone I truly admired. Most of the people there didn’t know each other.

Someone had the bright idea for each of us to tell how we knew the honoree. We went around the circle describing our connection to the person. This not only kept the spotlight on the honoree, but it was a great icebreaker. I found myself interested in several of the folks there, and it gave me fodder to follow up with questions for them when we began to mingle.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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