Here are a few helpful tips for when you meet someone for the first time:
Make a point of introducing yourself to the new person.
Make eye contact and keep eye contact on and off when you are talking to a new person.
Try to relax your body. You can-take a few deep breaths when needed.
Smile whenever possible throughout the interaction.
Do not take it personally if someone does not respond to you. They may also be shy or unresponsive for some other reason.
Try to convey a warm, friendly attitude even if you are feeling anxious.
If you see this person again always wave or greet them. It is good practice and keeps you in contact with more people.
Tips for having successful Conversations:
Follow your own curiosity-what most interests you about this person. If you pursue what you would like to know about someone you will find yourself engaged in conversation.
Use I statements. “I like rain better” or “I like my work” instead of “the rain is good for the environment” or “work is fine”. Using I statements is a way of relating which is more inviting for personal conversation.
Personal questions are important as well as revealing personal information about yourself. Personal questions: “Do you like your work ? “ If yes then, “what do you especially like about it?” If no, then “what else have you thought about doing ? “ Follow it up with personal information about yourself so there is a give and take to the conversation always following your own curiosity.
Suggestions for other personal questions: What kinds of activities do you like to do ? Are you from a large family ? Where did you grow up ? Always be willing to offer this information yourself. Silences are okay. Every second does not need to be filled with words.
It is okay to look anxious- almost everyone is somewhat anxious when meeting someone new. You will relax once you are engaged in conversation.
Compliments and general comments: these will also help start a conversation. Keep your comments positive of course.
Observations about people: I noticed you seemed very interested in the part of the class having to do with ………
Again be willing to follow this up with statements about yourself. “I really liked the part about……..”
With a Business associate or work colleague:
Here are a few tips:
Make a point of introducing yourself even if you are anxious.
Make eye contact and keep making eye contact on and off when you are talking to the new person.
Try to relax your body- take a few deep breaths.
Smile if you can.
Pay attention to the person at all times. If it happens that you don’t have rapport with the person it might be time to talk to someone else or change the subject. It is a very normal part of of interacting among colleagues or others.
After you have introduced yourself you can almost immediately ask a question but don’t ask a very difficult question right away. Start with something easy or volunteer something about yourself and your position or role on a project. Then it is okay to go ahead with your difficult questions.
Talking in a group setting
Many socially anxious people cannot avoid times when they are expected to talk in front of other people. This can be at a social gathering or a professional meeting. This can requires a different set of skills.
Tips for talking in a group setting:
Remember to introduce yourself if it is a new situation.
Volunteer pieces of information whenever possible but avoid long stories. Ask simple questions if other people are talking.
Talk louder than you would ordinarily in order to be heard.
Keep eye contact with different people in the group at all times.
Sit or stand close enough to be recognized as participating in the conversation.
If a question is directed to you try to answer simply but quickly before the conversation moves on. For example if someone asks you: how are you enjoying the class ? You could say (using an I statement) I like it. It is helpful. How does everyone else feel about it ?
It is okay to ask the entire group a question. Is everyone staying at the hotel ?
If your question or your response gets “lost” try to repeat it but do not take it personally. This happens in group conversations.
If you can and you would prefer it, during a pause ask a question to the person next to you. This will shift the conversation to a one on one conversation.