Overcoming the Social Anxiety of Meeting New People
A step by step method.
Overcoming social anxiety of meeting new people like any task in life requires skills. Fortunately, we can learn new skills.
Just like we learned to use a smartphone and the controls on our televisions, meeting new people will be one more skill we can add to our experience.
What is social anxiety? According to Dr. Thomas A. Richards,
“Social anxiety is the fear of interaction with other people that brings on self-consciousness, feelings of being negatively judged and evaluated, and, as a result, leads to avoidance.”
Overcoming social anxiety step by step will be the goal for this article.
We have to understand that everybody that we meet is a prospect. Everybody you meet on the street, at work and play, on social media, in your church or at your local club is a potential prospect for your business.
And the great thing is those people don’t know they are prospects. That means everybody new that you meet is neutral and has no biases against us.
They only become prospects and develop biases for or against us when they meet us. And based on what we say and do, they become good prospects or bad prospects.
Don’t believe me? Think about the person you see walking up and down the sidewalk in your neighborhood. Are these people walking up and down the neighborhood and thinking about Network Marketing? Of course not. They are thinking about their kids at school. Their thoughts are on work or what they are going to have for lunch or dinner. They have no thoughts about Network Marketing.
They only think about Network Marketing when we bring up the subject to them based on what we say or do.
And based on what we say or do, it will determine if these people become good prospects or bad prospects.
Step #1: Overcoming Fear of Failure.
Our first step for overcoming social anxiety is overcoming fear of failure.
The fear of failure is the number one cause of people not wanting to talk to strangers and meeting new people, Understandably, no one wants to fail. The reality is inside our brains is this inner program that says the world around us will come crashing down if we get rejected. We don’t want to feel embarrassed. We hate the thought of what other people may thing or say to us.
How do we overcome fear of failure? Think about someone else. We can’t have two thoughts in our minds at the same time. Think, “Oh, there is someone in this group that needs me. Someone who is shy and hopes someone will talk to them.”
If we concentrate on someone else, we won’t worry about our negative thoughts about failure.
Step #2: Mastering Body Language.
Overcoming social anxiety of meeting new people is partly about mastering body language.
How important is body language when approaching someone new? Think of when someone is flirting. Or imagine someone shaking an angry fist. How about a punch in the nose?
Body language is important.
We want to look open and non-aggressive. We want to smile. We don’t want to talk when the prospect is talking. Never interrupt the prospect no matter what you might say.
Nod your head in agreement whether you agree or not. Or, you can say something like, “That is an interesting point.”
Give the new person their personal space. And be bright eyed and make eye contact ONLY occasionally. Staring at someone constantly is creepy.
Don’t cross your arms. That is sign to the new person that we are not interested in them and cold toward them.
Shake hands on meeting new people. That is a sign of friendship.
If you are tired, that is not good. We want to be full of energy and happy to be where we are. That is better.
Our voice should be natural. Some people talk too fast. Other people talk too slow. We want to match speed for speed with new people. If they talk fast, you can speed up the talk. If they talk to slow, slow down your speed to match the speed of their voice.
The tone of our voice can override the meaning of our words. We don’t want to be sarcastic, overly enthusiastic, angry, bored, loud, scared or overly kind. These traits in our voice will scare away prospects.
We also want to observe the body language of our new prospects. It will give us general information about the state of mind of the person we are talking to. We want to watch for happy signals. And we want to watch for unhappy signals. That’s it.
Step #3: What Do I Say?
What we say is important when overcoming social anxiety of meeting someone new.
What would we want to start our conversation with?
Try the word, “Hi.”
With the word “Hi” we learn how to overcome social anxiety and shyness.
Simple, right? The hardest part is over.
But what if they don’t say “Hi” back? Easy. We are done with this conversation. Time to move on. No need to continue.
But what do we say after people say “Hi” in return?
Ask a simple question. People respond to questions. We call that conversation. Here are some easy questions and noninvasive.
- How are you?
- What is your name?
- Do you have a moment?
- Do you know where such and such is?
- Have you been waiting long?
- Am I in the right line?
- Do you know the host of the party?
- My name is Dale. What is your name?
- Where are you from?
- What kind of work do you do?
Are questions the only thing we need ask? No! How about making nice statements.
- Nice dress.
- Nice shoes.
- That looks yummy to eat.
- It sure is crowded in here.
We want to avoid invasive questions and statements.
- How much money do you have in your bank account?
- What time do your children leave your home?
- Are those your real teeth?
- Is that your real hair?
- You look good enough to eat.
- Time to take out the trash.
- What an ugly dress you are wearing.
- Those shoes came from where? (sarcastically said).
Dealing with social anxiety and overcoming social anxiety is easy when you know what to say.
Step #4: Controlling Other People’s Actions.
Can we control other people’s actions? Yes.
People are reactive. They go through life on autopilot, reacting to their internal programs.
Want to see this in action?
When we smile at someone, people automatically smile back. When we shake our fist in anger at someone, they automatically duck for cover or react back in an unpleasant experience.
People do not think but they react. They react based on internal programs that says to react instantly when this situation occurs.
The great news is the stranger we meet has two different reactions to us based on what we say or do.
That means that we can control the way our stranger reacts based on what we say and do.
So, would it make better sense to learn what to say to get the preferred reaction from the people that we meet? Yes, controlling behavior by what we say and do is in our hands and our responsibility.
Step #5: Listen to Our Prospects.
If we listen to hear and understand our prospects, our body language will match our good intentions.
Overcoming social anxiety of meeting new people is easy when all you have to do is to listen.
Listening means we try at understanding the meaning of our conversation partner’s words.
How do we listen? When the prospect speaks, we don’t talk. If you need help with listening because you are a natural talker, take your fist with one hand, place it under your chin, and then push up. This will keep our mouths from opening. And it makes a great conversation tool.
When we get the urge to interrupt our prospects, we simply push our fist upward and it keeps our mouths from opening.
We are in the business to hear, not to respond.
How else can we hear? By not talking one-upmanship. One-upmanship is devaluing the accomplishments of our prospects by elevating our accomplishments as being more superior.
When our prospects tell us of their accomplishments such as getting back from a one-week cruise, we don’t come back to them speaking about us going on a two-week cruise. It makes them feel small and makes us look pathetic.
How else can we listen? Avoid the appearance of interrogation. Do not rapid-fire questions to our prospect when they make a statement about something.
Two additional points about listening. Do not try solving psychological problems. We are not psychologists. And we should never give advice. Even when people beg you for advice, don’t do it. Why? People don’t really want our advice. They are already doing what they want to do.
Step #6: Getting Started with Our First Conversation.
Let’s see how easy it is for overcoming social anxiety of meeting new people by starting our first conversation.
How do we start? See that stranger over there? Think this: “I want to improve this person’s day?”
Maybe we can talk to the shy stranger coping with social anxiety by helping them talk about their favorite subject. Or help them focus on something positive in their lives.
How will that person feel? He will like us, or course?
And in the future, this person will seek us out. This person will enjoy having conversations with us. It could be the beginning of a friendship. Plus, when this person talks to others, our reputation will grow as a great conversationalist.
Put yourself in the other person’s brain. When we see things from other people’s viewpoints, it is easy to connect. Conversations are easy. Rapport seems effortless.
YOU: “Hi, my name is June. What is your name?” (Smiling).
PROSPECT: “My name is David.” (David talks slow and so, you will talk the same slow rate as David while smiling).
YOU: “David, I notice you are waiting in line. How long have you been waiting?
PROSPECT: “About 15 minutes.”
YOU: “Waiting is such a pain when you have other things to do.”
PROSPECT: “Yes, I do have other things to do.”
So far, it sounds pretty natural, doesn’t it?
Have we connected? Yes, by thinking the same way that our prospect thinks… “waiting is such pain when you have other things to do.” The prospect agrees with this statement. It builds rapport effortlessly, and it causes our prospect to see us as a friend.
If our prospect were to say, “No, I like waiting in line,” we don’t argue with them. We don’t contradict them. We merely nod our head in agreement and say, “That is an interesting viewpoint.”
People want approval. Approving their statements as being true builds rapport. No matter how wrong prospects might be, we never ever contradict them.
Knowing the step by step method for starting a conversation with strangers and overcoming social anxiety have never been easier than now.
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