I am currently in Asia and have been here for about 2 weeks, and will be here until the end of May.
Growing up, I was shy and didn’t often engage in conversations with people I didn’t know. Even now, I am still quite socially timid after having lived abroad and traveled a lot.
You would think by now I would be a social butterfly, but to be honest, I still feel very much out of my element when it comes to striking up a conversation and connecting with anyone at anytime.
Thus, one of the reasons I love traveling is it forces me to come out of my shell to speak with people because being in a new environment it naturally nudges me to interact with new people without even really trying. From being curious, to asking for help more often than I usually would, to wanting to connect and meet new people.
Which begs the question why I don’t do it more often when I’m in my own backyard?
For several reasons, when I’m comfortable, I get lazy.
My desire to explore my own city diminishes. I take it for granted thinking I can always explore it at any time.
Plus I always feel like I don’t know what to say or I have to be witty.
It’s hard to shake off caring about what others think.
Like a normal human being, I like to feel validated and my ego gets the best of me at times, especially when I’m at home because I’ve conjured up this belief if I was to make a fool out of myself, the chances of me running into someone again in my own city is greater than when I’m traveling.
Needless to say, these perceptions I have are absurd.
The reality is the time is now.
I can’t predict when my time is up, so while I’ve still got time I need to make the most of it and not take it for granted. And the odds of running into someone again in a city of over a million people is as likely as meeting a stranger again in any random city.
I suppose if I did run into someone again where I felt like I have made an ass out of myself, so be it.
In the grand scheme of things, the people who I’m meant to connect with due to fate or what have you, will come into my life as they say for a ‘reason, season or a lifetime.’
With this attitude, I feel more at ease and nonchalant about the idea of striking up a conversation and connecting with people from near and far, at home or abroad.
What matters now is I am opening myself to more possibilities and opportunities of meeting some fantastic people. This is what makes life fun and exciting, especially when you meet someone and end up having a conversation that is “as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.” ~ Anne Lindberg.
With that said, to help get my mind in a right place to connect comfortably and have an amazing conversation, these have been some of my ‘go to’ questions
after the initial surface chit chat you have when you first meet someone.
What’s something you are excited about lately?
What recent adventures have you been up to lately?
What makes you come alive?
What drives you in life?
What’s something on your bucket list that you are looking forward to doing?
What's a challenge you are facing now?
I have also found that by turning my focus on what can I do to make someone’s day better
, even if it is just a bit takes away the social anxiety.
This could be as simple as smiling, giving a genuine compliment to saying thank you. In doing so, it helps to pivot my attention from being self-absorbed worrying about what to say and what impression I’m giving to listening to how I can connect in a positive way with the person who I am talking to.
In addition, I find when you treat the person you are conversing with as a long lost friend vs. as a stranger, you lose the self-consciousness, opening yourself to be more authentic leading to better conversations.
Finally, Scott Dinsmore from Live Your Legend talks about the three second rule
in his work to help people connect with anyone. The basis of it is when you see anyone interesting who you’d like to meet, give yourself three seconds to approach them, say hello and start a conversation.
Often times we overthink whether we should or shouldn’t and miss the opportunity. And by just saying something, you never know where it can lead you.
With that said, applying this to my life is something that still makes my heart quicken. So during my adventures in Asia, I’ve vowed to apply this whenever I see someone and hope to bring you some stories and how it worked for me at the end of my trip.
Got a favorite tip to overcome social anxiety and meet new people? Share with me below!
Photo by: Yasin Hassan