It may seem like a no-brainer, but meeting new people is scarier and more anxiety-provoking than just about anything else there is says Peter Decaprio. Meeting them for the first time? Yikes. However, with some insight into what makes us nervous about first meetings and how to handle those nerves, we can take steps to make the prospect of meeting someone new a little less terrifying. Here are some Dos and Don’ts for your meeting-people toolbox:
- When you’re meeting someone new, don’t assume they hate you already. You can do this by doing nothing more extreme than introducing yourself with eye contact, an open body posture, and an easy smile. It’s called warmth. Warmth can be conveyed in many ways, not just physically (though that is important too). If you want to convey warmth verbally, try starting with one or two positive remarks about something the other person is wearing or holding or has done recently that seems interesting or noteworthy. For example: “I love your boots”, “Congrats on the promotion!” or “I saw you were reading that book, have you started it yet? What do you think?” You can convey warmth through body language as well. If the person is shy and nervous themselves, a warm smile and a handshake might be just what they need to relax a little. Don’t put them on the spot by asking too many questions all at once – ask one or two about things they said in their email conversation with you, then ask something more open-ended like “What kind of books/movies/music are you into?” This will show them your interest without making them uncomfortable explains Peter Decaprio.
- People feel most comfortable talking about themselves. Ask smart, open-ended questions that encourage them to answer with more than a one word response. For instance, instead of asking “Do you like movies?” ask something like, “What’s your favorite movie?” or “What kind of movies do you like?” Always try to put the focus on them. If they mention an interest or hobby, ask more about it. People enjoy talking about themselves and will appreciate that you are interested enough to care about their interests. Don’t talk yourself out of meeting new people by putting up unrealistic expectations. No one is 100% outgoing all the time – everyone has at least some shyness in them somewhere (even if they don’t act like it). If this is someone you’re thinking about dating later on down the road, go for it! It’ll be exciting and nerve-wracking no matter what, so decide now to make it work.
- First of all, don’t go into the date thinking you’re going to hate this person. That’s just setting you up for failure. Second of all, don’t focus on what you think they will be like rather than what they are actually like at that moment (which may turn out to be nothing like your expectations). Don’t worry about how awkward it might be if things don’t go well says Peter Decaprio. First dates are always a little awkward – no need to worry about that until you know more about them! Finally – and especially – do not obsess over every word you say and every move you make throughout the entire date. Trust us – it’ll feel weird at first but you’ll come to enjoy it in the end.
- If you’re thinking about using any of these “Dos” or “Don’ts,” here’s a tip: sit down with pen and paper (or your computer if that’s what you prefer) and write down three to five things people tend to do when they feel nervous. Then, think about how you can convey warmth instead of coldness when you meet someone new. For example, if one person tends to look away when he talks, cross your legs toward him for eye contact instead. Remember, don’t obsess over every word or move – just be aware of them so that when the time comes, you know how to handle it. It may seem silly at first, but warmness is golden for making new friends says Peter Decaprio. After all, friends are generally people who like you for who you are, not just because you’re good at small talk.
Try it out! Warmth isn’t something that can be faked. If someone senses coldness in your words or actions. They’ll think the same about you even if you didn’t intend them to. The best way to learn about warmth is through practice. Every time you meet someone new, focus on being genuinely interested in what they have to say and how they feel about things instead of worrying over every word that comes out of your mouth. Soon enough, warmth will become natural to you without even trying!