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  • Héctor A. Venegas

Overcoming approach anxiety

A lot of people struggle with approaching someone they don't know.

Especially if the expectations are high.

This would be the case if someone approaches another person for emotional reasons, dating, getting the phone number etc.

But it also happens when someone approaches someone else for business reasons.

The processes and the patterns happening within their heads are the same.

The process consists of 8 steps:

  1. The idea

  2. The thought process

  3. The strategy

  4. The motivation

  5. The body movement

  6. The catchy opening line

  7. The continuation of the conversation

  8. The body language

It all starts with the idea.

Why would we want to speak to a person we don't know?

The reasons can very.

  • We are emotionally interested in the other person, and we want to get to know her/him.

  • We somehow know the other person’s name, face, business, industry and would like to get advice or knowledge from her/him.

  • We want to expand our network and are generally interested in getting to know new people.

  • We were told to do so

To reach our objective, we have to go through every step of the process.

The idea is usually not the problem, at least for most people.

The thought process is done by most, as well as followed by the strategy.

A disruption of the pattern happens somewhere between step 4 & 5, between the motivation and the body movement.

Here is where we sabotage our process, and the anxiety patterns take over.

These patterns can be defined as a deep feeling of failure, of the worst case that could happen, when you approach the other person.

These patterns have their foundation somewhere in your childhood or youth, where you tried something new and failed (or you thought you failed). Maybe it was even combined with someone making fun of you, or a feeling of someone making fun of you.

A feeling of humiliation, real or imagined.

These patterns can be so deeply rooted within our brains, that they have the power to control our actions, so you wouldn't even start the process of approaching.

In step 4 the motivation turns out to be very low, or it is reduced by the feeling of failure, that the next step of body movement is not even started.

Instead of moving towards our target, we turn the other way and get a drink, have a look at our phones or talk to someone we know.

The worst thing happens here:

We do not feel like we missed out on anything, as we convince ourselves quite effectively that the approach wasn't a good idea in the first place.

And we can be masters in convincing ourselves!

The only way to break these patterns is by replacing them with new ones.

Which means, we will have to do exactly the actions, which we internally don't want to do.

Like everything we are not good at, we have to train it.

A good way of training approaching is talking to as many people as possible.

I always tell my coaching clients to go out and approach 10 people a day for 4 weeks. No matter for what reason. It might be asking them about the time, the next train or bus, the weather, the direction to some place, telling them that their shoelaces are loose, and they might fall, giving someone else a compliment….

It doesn't matter want you talk about as long as you do it.

You will see a lot of positive results, without any kind of humiliation.

This will make you feel better about approaching people, even if it is for a reason you are really interested in.

Try it! You will see how it works!

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