Conquering Approach Anxiety

Signalling Theory presents us all with a wonderful data set of human interactions. We can look at how we respond, interact, and influence one another in multiple modes of unconscious and conscious communication.

In fact, Paul Watzlawick has a great way of encapsulating this concept:

“One cannot not communicate.”

Basically that even if you are not actually talking, you are still communicating.   We are constantly signaling to one another about who we are, our values, and our ideas.  It is pretty much impossible to not share who you are in the presence of another person.

This all matters in how to help people who are nervous about how to engage with another.  You might want to approach a person across the room that looks attractive, is someone you want to talk to about a specific topic, or even someone you dislike. Whatever the reason you might feel a bit anxious about the situation. You don’t want to seem manufactured in your conversation but you don’t really have anything to work off of due to the situation.

So what do you do?

First you can make a quick read of the person you are looking to talk with:

What are they wearing?

What do you like about their clothing, style?

How are they standing, interacting with others, or looking at?

If you can hear the conversation they are already engaged within … listen for the main topic being discussed, is it something you know about or want to know more about?

You have so much information just waiting to be considered and you haven’t even spoken to the person yet.

Then what do you do you?

You become curious! You move forward with a quizzical context about the person and let that lead you towards them.  Allow the natural human desire to learn more put you in motion and guide you towards learning more!

The information is floating around in your head and you approach the person and you forget everything you were just thinking about.  Total blank!

How do you handle the situation?

The one thing that will always get you through no matter how nervous you are with a new person is to ask the person about themselves. Most people are just itching for a reason to share who they are (just like you do or you wouldn’t be interested in approaching them) and will do so gladly if you just ask questions and follow-up questions to their responses.

The signals you send to the person are that you are interested in them, you want to continue a conversation, you are listening to them, and you are investing in who they are as a person. Most of these things go on with each one of us unconsciously however, if you realize that you a great deal of information right in front of you, that you have curiosity which will propel you along, and your key is to ask questions about them… you will be set to approach anyone.


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