Learning How To Make The First Move

I’m an introvert and very private person. Although, first impressions of me would say otherwise, because I present as a friendly and engaging person- which I also am. In truth though, meeting new people can initially be very awkward and un-comfortable for me. The mere thought of socializing with strangers, networking and taking part in small talk makes me cringe; twisting my stomach into knots and elevating my anxiety levels. My default defense is to often rely quite heavily on my very inquisitive nature (which at times can be both a blessing and a curse). But, once I get into the flow of openly engaging and being friendly, I begin to relax, enjoy myself and the natural course of the exchange.

So how do I go from awkward anxiety to social butterfly? Well, this is what I’ve learned about becoming comfortable with interacting with others as a professional and on a personal level:

Self disclosure: Being open with others opens doors and makes you relatable. Tell people about yourself; your likes, adventures and misadventures, too! Everyone likes a good story. You are much, much more than your name, job title and place of birth! Practice in the mirror (try to see what others see), with family, friends and coworkers. What do you find truly interesting about someone you’ve just met?

Take the initiative: You’ve heard it before: Be a self-starter! Don’t wait for the other person to engage you. If someone makes eye contact with you, smile back. Oftentimes that’s all it takes to start up a conversation. Extending kindnesses and being friendly first creates a warm, safe atmosphere instantly putting people at ease. True kindness and friendliness is a way better, safer, sustainable and more authentic social lubricant than alcohol any day!

Celebrate your weirdness: You’re unique and one of a kind! There is no one else out there like you- celebrate it! Embracing your different-ness puts you at ease from the concerns of being judged or disliked by others. (When you’re relaxed and comfortable, others are relaxed and comfortable around you. Making you that much more approachable). Added benefit? Your light will naturally shine through making you even more appealing and engaging to interact with- that magnetic attraction quotient. Phew! Takes some of the pressure off of you, right?

Start working on cultivating Tiny Habits that are easy to embed into your daily routine, and that will support this new shift in your behaviour. Begin smiling at strangers; ask the receptionist at your gym how they’re doing; make eye contact and say “hi” to the bus driver when you get on the bus for work; share a joke or observation with other shoppers while in the check-out line up instead of texting on your iPhone; host games nights with friends and friends-of-friends where self revealing games are played. Be sure to check in with yourself through your journal, too; reflect on the responses you receive and how good these interactions made you feel. A smile, hello or shared joke can change an entire day, for you and for someone else.

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About The Author

Certified Well-Being Life Coach, Digital Coach, Intuitive Advisor, parent, writer and blogger on “The Process of Life” and founder of Forward Muse Solutions. Melanie enjoys tending to her garden, having stimulating exchanges with friends and strangers, dancing whenever and wherever she can. And, learning, growing and loving with her amazing teenage son. Learn more about Melanie Christian at: www.forwardmusesolutions.com

8 COMMENTS

    • Truth, Eric! 🙂 I speak and write from my own experience. It is AMAZING the positive responses, and just how receptive people are when I show even the smallest of kindnesses like a welcoming smile. One of my favourite things to do is to chat with other customers in the grocery store line-up. We’re sharing the same space and it makes the experience much more meaningful and engaging.

      Here’s a little but safe adventure to start with: Practice sharing opening in front of the mirror. Your goals, your funny misadventures, your dreams. It may feel weird and uncomfortable at first. But, see how it feels when you’re smiling and you’re shoulders are relaxed. Then when you’re feeling a little bolder try it out on friends, family and colleagues 🙂

    • Hi Shirley. Very nice to meet you! 🙂 Like any shift in mindset it begins with a willingness and openness to change. And yes, change can be uncomfortable and awkward…at first.

      But, becoming more flowing in your introductions and first encounters starts with practicing: Self-disclosure (openness of self to others and self, being authentic); taking initiative (pulling up your socks, taking a deep breath and just diving in), and celebrating your weirdness (truly embracing your uniqueness; both knowing and believing you bring something of value to every interaction).

      It takes practice, for sure! But, try starting with holding an affirmation in your mind before any new encounters, like: “I AM CONFIDENT AND HAPPILY SHOW MY TRUE SELF, KNOWING THAT I HAVE A LIGHT TO SHINE ON EVERYONE WHOM I MEET!” 🙂