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Your Opinion Counts

By now you should be confident enough to approach almost anyone. Now, instead of just saying hello, or giving some interacting movement, it is time to set up for a conversation. The easiest way to open is by asking someone their opinion on something, or opinion opener. You are out for a walk, see someone interesting, and begin your approach. Remember body language: up straight, hands down, and talk over the shoulder. Grab their attention and begin asking their opinion on a subject; does not matter what the subject is. The question could be anything:

  • Is short hair better than long hair?
  • My friend got dumped by his girlfriend, should he try to get her back or not?
  • Do you prefer black to white?
  • Do drunk I love you’s count?

Become creative with your opinion opener, and think of something that could be fun and interesting to talk about.

This may seem difficult to grasp, and feel like no one will be gullible enough to respond to a random question from a stranger; yes they are. Anyone and everyone love using their brains, even for something silly and pointless. Also, since the answer does not matter, people are more than happy to give some of their free wisdom.

Remember to become creative with your opener. Find a question that really seems interesting to get others’ opinions from. It will not seem like such a chore when you are curious to the answer as well. It really does not matter what you say. The whole point is to just grab their attention. I once walked up to a group and said, “I like salad.” They thought it was funny and ask for my name.

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Let Us Recap

So far, I have given the tools to become comfortable in your enviornment, and a few easy ways to approach interesting strangers. I want to review some of the key tips before continuing to the next steps:

#1: Find a place you can see yourself attend frequently.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2: I highly recommend to attend the days there are specials being served.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3: Meet the staff and get to know them. They will recognize you and be happy to see you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#4: Always keep a smile. You will appear less threatening when positivity is spread across your face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#5: Approach groups to the side with your head over your shoulder. Remember, they don’t know you either, and their guards will not be up as much when it looks like you are not staying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#6: Keep your drink to side of you so you don’t play with it or sip from it every second. The more you mess with your drink, the more obvious it is you are nervous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#7: During conversation, always keep a strong a eye contact. The second you break contact, the comfort with that person will slowly slip away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#8: The conversation does not have to last all night; end it positive and/or come back later. Tink their glass with a smile and bid them farewell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#9: Most importantly, have fun with it. Don’t focus so much on getting every step right. Do what you can and have a great time meeting new friends.

Cheers!

Now you have mastered your nerves, and found a comfortable place to call your own. It is now time to get out there and start meeting some strangers. You probably have already tried meeting some, but they have been quick with you, or perhaps seemed just as nervous as you did. Why did the conversation end so early? Why did they only answer yes or no? I know they were not busy, but why did they say they had to go? These will come up sometimes when making the approach and the reason may be because you were not approachable to begin with. Think about this: If someone ever approached you, did you sense that they were nervous? Or perhaps you felt they were coming on too strong? People, when interacting with one another, can feel each others’ body language through simple signs how you they stand, move, and look through facial expressions. There are some easy ways to make you seem more interesting just by shifting a few things:

  • Do not slouch. If your shoulders are shrugged, your poster puts you into a downward motion set in front of you. Almost like you are walking and trying to curl into a ball at the same time. Some people will see you as lonely and unapproachable. Keep your head up, your hands to your side, and chest high. It will feel uncomfortable at first, but a straighter stance will show off more confidence and high value.
  • Have a big smile; it is that easy. Whenever entering an area or a group of people always have a nice smile on your face. Nobody wants to talk to a person who looks like they are having miserable day. Even if it is not your day, but feel compelled to talk to some new people, put on a fake smile. If you have a smile, I promise at least one person will smile back. They are contagious, and most people can’t resist smiling to a smile.
  • Try not to hold something in front of you or play with it during a conversation. For example, you are at a coffee shop and you just received your drink. You see someone in line and begin talking to him/her. You probably do not notice, but you might be playing with your straw or rubbing your finger across the rim of the cup as you talk. That can be a sign of nervousness; that person probably sees you as unconfident and unworthy. Also, simply holding a drink in front of you is not a good idea. When it is close to your mouth you will be tempted to drink from it periodically in the conversation. Just hold it to the side, and try not to interrupt the conversation so much by taking a sip.
  • When approaching a person or group, do not approach head-on. In other words, do not straightly walk up and say hi. That person does not know you, and they will put up a shield when they know someone is deliberately coming towards them. Walk near them and open up with your shoulder to them. Turn your head over your shoulder and begin talking. This will make it seem like you suddenly noticed them, and you are not staying. With just this stance, people will be more open, and their guards will be down.
  • During the conversation, look at that person in the eyes. That person will most likely be looking at your eyes through the entire conversation. If you start to wonder around while he/she is talking you will seem uninterested in that person. You will score major cool points by just keeping a strong eye contact.
  • If you are still nervous about what to say, just simply open by saying hi. This is only the beginning of bettering yourself so it is alright not to have a conversation yet. Walk up to a person or group and say hi. Ask if they are having a good day, they will respond and you say, “Good to hear,” and walk away. Get the feeling of approaching, and knowing what it is like to simply speak to a stranger. Just by opening up will slowly take away the fear and give you a comfort zone. If you are still too nervous to say anything, give them a high five or give them cheers with your drink. Walk up, and “tink” their glass; I’m serious, it works. Do no forget to smile.

My personal experience:

I recently got access to VIP at Club Myst in Scottsdale. When I first got there nobody has shown up yet. My friends and I made this the opportunity to look around and get a feel for the place. An hour has gone by and the dance floor began to fill up. I was in my VIP section, the white room, and notice some people that seemed to be having a good time. I walked by with my head high, drink to the side, and had a comforting smile; I made it seem like I noticed them in the corner of my eye, and approached them to the side. The seats were low, so I had to bend down to talk.

“It seems like there is a second party going on in this corner,” I said. A girl next to me gave me a smile because I was smiling the entire time I was looking at her.

“Are you having a good time?” I asked.

She responded, “I am having the best time!”

I raised my glass  towards her and she tinked it, giving me a cheers.

“It was a lot of fun meeting you,” I told her and walked away.

Another girl was in the middle of the VIP by the private bar, dancing by herself. Noticing that, I could tell she was going to have fun no matter where she is. I walked next to her and gave her a high five. She started to giggle and asked for my name. I offered her a drink and she offered me a seat at her section. We talked for a little while, went to the dance floor, tinked glasses, and I walked off.

I did not approach anyone else the rest of the night. I did not feel strong enough to continue on approaching and cheering everyone with my drink. However, I still had an amazing time with my friends in VIP and dancing all night. Yes…I dance.

Home Away From Home

Sometimes there is more to the shaky nerves than just worrying about what to do upon approach. It can also relate to your state of comfort, or comfort zone. If the fear is great, you probably do not get out much, and keep to yourself. The big thing is that you are not familiar with the area you, and feel out of place. Going to a new restaurant, store, night club, park, or even a friend’s house can spark feelings of unfamiliarity. Not knowing where you are, or what is around you, can make any situation intimidating. The best help to get is to find “your spot”. Whether it be a bar you enjoy, or a coffee shop you go to everyday. Becoming familiar with your surroundings will put you in a positive state of mind. You will have more stable conscience when it comes time to approach new people.

Making a comfort zone is not difficult if work is put into it. For example, for those over twenty-one-years-old, find a good bar:

  • Find out the days and times of specials. Happy hour, specials, and events always bring in a large number of customers.
  • Attend there frequently. Make time during the week to attend the bar on a usual basis. It can be every same day of the week, or stop by a few times a week for just a quick drink.
  • Introduce yourself to the staff (bartender, waitresses, DJ) and find out their names.
  • Get to know the staff, and other regulars; people who are there all the time.

My personal experience:

My Tuesday nights are mostly spent at JJ Madison’s on Power and University. It is located where my friends and I can meet up without anyone having to take a long a drive. We chose Tuesdays because that is when the two dollar Mexican beer special takes place, as well as karaoke. The good thing about this place is that the environment is so comforting that even the staff hangs out in there on their days off. I can walk in, the bartender will recognize me, and she already knows what I want to order.

Ever since I started school at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus I have been trying to find a place to call my own. I cannot seem to find any place comforting enough with fun people to talk to and a social-friendly feeling. Where ever I go, everyone seems so focused, and oblivious to anyone around them. Even the people at the coffee shops and quick stops on campus are very quick with me. The fact that I can feel they do not want to be bothered makes me not want to be bothered, like a mirror effect. Usually, I am the one that is electric and sociable, giving off positive feelings to those around me. There is a saying I use to describe myself when on campus: “I feel I am too party for this school.”

Get out of your head!

Everyone has experienced the nightmare of social anxiety. We all have become nervous and encountered fear upon being approached, or approaching others. It is like an evil conscious gives reasons to keep from socializing and not try to be the person likes to be around. I know when I’m in a situation of wanting to approach someone I get inside of my head too much: “Don’t walk to fast. Don’t seem needy. What if they ignore me? What if they tell me to go away? Why am I shaky? What do I do with my hands? Do I say hi? After saying hi what comes next?”

The first step is to realize that it is all in your head. There is no reason you shouldn’t have fun and approach a group, or joke around with your waitress. Before anything can be done, you must accept the fact that there is no harm in saying “hello.” The worst thing that can happen is that the conversation ends. Do not think too hard into it; move to

the next group. There is a whole world out there and accept the fact that not everything is going to enjoy your company.

Here are a few things to try next time you think about trying the “cold” approach. Take note to what is going through your head:

  • What thoughts are you having?
  • How do you feel? What symptoms is your body having (Increased heart rate, sweat, jitteriness, etc.)?
  • What are you noticeably doing once you become nervous?
  • Why are you thinking so negative?
  • How do you feel once you leave the conversation?

The easiest way to really visualize this step is to write everything down. Make this a list of things to cross out of everyday life. Be able to overcome and embrace the fear; turn that nervous adrenaline rush into a boost of confidence.

My personal experience:

I went to a country bar with some friends Wednesday night in Mesa. Apparently, Wednesday night is ladies night, $1 beers until eleven o’clock, and my friends like the sound of both. What made it difficult was I only knew three out the ten people around me, and am completely uneducated when it comes to country. I showed up at 10:55, enough time for one cheap beer; next one was $3.15. Austin, my friend who invited me, was busy most of the night learning to dance to country music. I ended up standing there in the bar, looking around to see what everyone is doing. There were a lot of women I felt like approaching and talk to that night. My conscience popped in and was telling me things like those girls are here with guys, they are having a ladies night, they don’t want to talk to me, etc.

The girl Austin was with had a couple cute friends whom I tried to talk to. I was able to say hi and joke with them for a second until they cut me off and went to dance to the random hip hop that began playing. I stood alone again for while then saw Austin dancing with the girls. I thought this could be an opportunity to get out of my comfort with a positive attitude; and since a friend was there with me it shouldn’t be so bad. I was dancing for thirty seconds with the girls until all three shut us out. What did we do so terrible to be shunned out of a harmless group dance? For the rest of the night, I sat at our table and made the excuse of being tired. I ended up leaving early and made no progress with anyone that night. When I got home, I listed everything I did, thought, and felt during those times of anxiety. I also made a mental note: “Girls can be very evil and cold.”

I know how you feel

Has this ever happened to you:

  • You are sitting at a restaurant; the waitress handed your food, but forgets your side dressing. You do not call her over because you tell yourself she is busy and do not want to bother her.
  • A girl is alone standing behind you in line at the grocery store, but you feel too weird talking to her in a public place.
  • At a bar, a group of people are having a great time laughing and drinking, and you want to go introduce yourself and have fun with them. However, something tells you it is a bad idea to go over there.

If any of these scenarios have ever happened to you, you are not alone. Social anxiety is one of the largest types of anxiety for people today. I suffer with the anxiety to meet people as well. There is something in my head telling me all of the things that could go wrong once  approaching a stranger. This blog will help answer the questions why people become anxious in public places, tips and sources to overcome it, and become hopefully help better one’s self. In addition, I will be going out at least once a week using the tips I blog, and give a full report of my encounters. Lists, tips, videos,  interviews, an other sources will be posted in future blogs.