As a media studies/ digital arts/ journalism major we often find ourselves having to talk to people that we don't know, AKA a stranger. You can ask all of my friends and they will tell you that I am not shy. I love to talk (I'm a tour guide, its kinda my job) but the truth is, if I do not know you, I am so shy. Like painfully shy. Like no eye contact shy. I just feel so awkward on the inside and try to avoid those situations as much as possible. My best friend growing up was always the friend maker (hey Kels, I'm talking about you). We were kind of like a package deal. But she was super outgoing and always willing to talk to people first and I was just kind of toted along. My fear was so bad that I used to get really bad anxiety when I would have to order something at a restaurant. Weird, I know. Honestly, I still get nervous ordering at a restaurant.
I thought I was going to be fine never having to met strangers for the rest of my life. WRONG. I had to get over that notion quickly. The transition from high school to college helped me to learn a lot about talking to people I don't know and how put it to good use multiple times. As stated above, college was a great tool for helping me to get over this fear. But it was actually blogging that helped make a world of difference for me. I have always had a lot of ideas. I love helping people and telling them my take on life, just not telling them in person. Blogging helped me to build up courage to start talking to people personally. It was what encouraged me to become a tour guide and switch my major to MJD, both include a lot of talking to strangers.
I still get nervous right before I meet someone, but now it is one of my favorite things to do!Trust me, it was not easy to get over the anxiety that comes with talking to strangers, but it is something that I think that everyone should work on. It can come in hand when you are in an interview, going on a date or simply meeting a new friend.
I wish that there was a magic juice or pill that I could take before I have to talk to strangers, but there isn't. Because those things do not exist, here are a few of my tips!
PUMP IT UP// Whether it be with some music or a pep talk, pumping yourself up can really help to make a difference. Shake out all of your anxiety and get rid of a lot of adrenaline and you will do fine! A lot of the things that I worry about come from saying the wrong thing or mispronouncing something. So in the time leading up to my meeting with a stranger I often give myself pep talks or repeat positive phrases.
GIGGLE// Laughter is the world's greatest medicine. I wouldn't start a conversation with laughter, but if you find yourself stumbling over your words or shaking a bit, make a joke about it or just laugh it off. Often, this tends to calm both parties involved in this meeting.
TOE SQUEEZE// One of my favorite tricks. When I am really nervous, I shake. I don't know why, I just do. I used to clench my hands in a weird way when I was nervous, but I learned that it not only can hurt a bit but it also looks bad. So instead what I started doing was clenching my toes. I swear, it works wonders. You feel a release of tension immediately and it is also super sneaky so no one knows.
PLAN AHEAD// This tip has mainly helped me when I am doing interviews for my journalism classes or giving tours. It is always good to have talking points planned out in your head. In tour guide training they tell us what to talk about at each stop on the tour, which is super helpful! Make sure to have personal stories lined up beforehand so you aren't searching for the right things to say! For interviews, I often have a list of 10-15 questions already written down before the interview begins. That way I don't forget the questions that I want to ask. If i don't have talking points planned out it tends to get really awkward really fast.
SUIT UP// Ok, so you know how super heroes gain power but wearing their suits? Well this is kinds the same thing. Look good. When you look good, you feel confident. It is a really easy way to overcome your nerves.
DON'T GIVE UP// DO NOT back out. How many times do I want to back out of small things because I am nervous? All the time. I force myself to go about 99% of the time and I normally walk out of those experiences really happy. Often times the anxiety that I have about an event can overshadow all of the positive things that I may get out of it. Because I always want to back out, I have made it a rule of mine to never back out (unless there is a real reason of why I need to back out.) Being scared of something is not a legitimate excuse!
If you would have told me in high school that I would actually volunteer talking to strangers I would have laughed at you. It is crazy to me. These are some of my favorite tips and I hope they help you when you have to talk to a stranger!
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