How to overcome nerves when meeting someone (Tips)

How to overcome nerves when meeting someone

In this guide we will discuss “how to overcome nerves when meeting someone”, a few tips and a few helpful exercises you could follow to help you overcome your nerves.

How to overcome nerves when meeting someone

There are a few ways to overcome nerves when meeting someone, here are a few:

  • Detach your self-worth from the outcome of the meeting, meaning you are not a failure, stupid or a loser, just because the date didn’t go as expected.
  • Remember no one is forced to like us immediately or during the first meeting. Just as you like or dislike some people, others are allowed to feel the same but don’t take it personally.
  • If possible, do some research about the person you are going to meet but not in a “stalker ish” way. Just know some basics so you can have time to know what possible topics you could talk about.
  • Visualize your meeting as “successful”. Imagine from beginning to end how well all went out where you feel comfortable enough to say you were successful but do not set false expectations.
  • Remember to breathe. Many people forget how important is to breathe but should be the first thing that comes to your mind when your nerves are taking over the situation.

There are many contexts where we could feel nervous when meeting someone.

For instance, you started dating online and you are going on your first date, you have a long distance relationship with someone you have never met in person or just when facing social situations in general.

How to overcome nerves when meeting someone (Tips)

In addition, it is important to take your time to progress by starting with short and strategic approaches instead of a full approach and starting full conversations.

However, the more you get out of that “comfort zone” the more progress you will make, just remember to take things at your own pace and you feel you are not making any progress get some help from a friend or someone you trust.

However, when we approach situations that we may be struggling with taking baby steps then we could say we are applying systematic desensitization and as Nick Notas states, “Start with something easy that still gives your anxiety real-world exposure.

Once you’re comfortable, increase the difficulty. Rinse and repeat until you’ve conquered your fear.”

Note: important to remember that being nervous when meeting people does not mean you have social phobia or a social anxiety disorder, this needs to be diagnosed by a mental health professional.

x
[ 10 signs of hidden Anxiety ] video

How do I get rid of the physical symptoms?

When we speak to someone we don’t know or just recently met then we may have a series of physical symptoms such as stomach ache/stomach pain/stomach cramps, where some people have even called it “stomach anxiety”. In addition to experiencing an increased heart rate, breathing rate, sweating, blushing, etc.

These are some of the most common symptoms of anxiety, but they can vary from one person to the next. 

We may notice how symptoms are associated to our thoughts and how those thoughts seem to feed our anxiety in a never ending cycle so just doing breathing exercises or incorporating relaxation techniques alone without tackling and changing our ways of thinking won’t be as effective.

So now we will talk about a few very useful exercises you could do over the course of a few weeks/months.

Exercise 1: Make a list

If you are struggling with anxiety or have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, or you feel very nervous when meeting people then attempt to make a list about the things that make you nervous about the interaction and score it from 1 to 10, where 10 is the most anxious and 1 the less anxious, work your way from top to bottom.

Here is an example of how the list should look like:

  1. Starting a conversation (10)
  2. Approaching someone you just met (9)
  3. Walking into a bar or a crowded place (9)
  4. Talking to someone on the phone/over texts or social networks (8)
  5. Asking a question o a stranger (7)
  6. Eye contact with someone I don’t know or a stranger (6)
  7. Going out of my house (5)

The list can go as long or short as you need but the main idea is to think about all those things and situation that makes you feel nervous when interacting with someone for the first time.

How to overcome nerves when meeting someone (Tips)

Exercise 2: Challenge your thoughts

Make a list about the intrusive/negative thoughts you have in those situations you described in the previous list.

For instance, for item 5 on my list I could have thoughts like:

  • Is it going to be a stupid question?
  • Will they answer my question?
  • Will they think I am a stalker or creepy?

So let’s work on those 3 questions. First, there are no stupid questions, if you have the need to ask is because you really don’t know the answer.

For instance, if you usually avoid asking someone on the street “What time is it” because you worry about how they will look at you or react…well, it is normal we think that way but what if we think about the worst case scenarios first.

Scenario 1: they will not answer my question and will go the other way. 

Scenario 2: they will answer my question in a short and concise way. Just what I asked in the first place.

Scenario 3: they will look at me trying to find any signs of having a watch or somewhere I could look at the time on my own but will still answer.

Scenario 4: they could say “sorry, don’t have a watch” even though we all know smartphones have a clock.

How to overcome nerves when meeting someone (Tips)

Now let’s analyse the first two scenarios. On the first scenario, if they do not answer, and they go the other way it is not because they have something against me, personally.

They might be afraid I could do something to them and that is completely understandable, they don’t know me so why would they trust me.

I would react the same way to be honest. If they don’t feel they need to answer fine, I will look for someone else.

The second scenario is really what I asked for but I might think they are being short and concise to avoid interacting any further with me or because they just don’t feel like talking to me.

This is completely normal and I can’t expect anything else if I actually got my answer.

After getting my answer I would have thought, “I did it, and nothing bad happened, so I could do it again some other time”. 

Exercise 3: Make a plan

After you have identified what makes you the most anxious and the less anxious then, we need to think about how to overcome the fear.

The best way is gradually exposing yourself to those situations but at first it can seem like a very bad idea and can make your anxiety spike even more.

However, think about it as opportunities to learn about yourself and when you are able to go through it and you realize it wasn’t as bad as you thought. 

For example, let’s start from the bottom of my list. Going out of my house had a 6 in my personal anxiety scale.

If I wanted to start by working on it then I would have to gradually get out and start feeling less anxious about it.

For instance, I can go out for a walk around the neighbourhood, no problem.

However, if I have to go to the nearest supermarket then I start getting very anxious.

This is a public place “far” away from home even if it is just a couple of blocks. 

How to overcome nerves when meeting someone (Tips)

What I would do is first start by walking around the neighbourhood and go back home.

The next day I would attempt to go farther, in the direction of the supermarket which is my goal.

If at first you notice how you feel you struggle a lot and you can’t do it, don’t be discouraged. It takes time and patience.  

Remember if you lose a battle, it doesn’t mean you have lost the war!

Keep trying and keep working on yourself, it is the best way to overcome your greatest fear. 

Why is this blog about how to overcome nerves when meeting someone important?

How to overcome nerves when meeting someone requires practice, time and patience so try not to be so hard on yourself if it doesn’t happen the way you expected the first time.

For some people, exposing themselves and letting experiences shape their behavior works for them, for some others, gradually exposing themselves to their source of fear is what helps them overcome their nerves and learn a new set of skills. 

If you feel you are too overwhelmed by it, you have tried everything, the outcome is still the same then we recommend talking to someone about it and asking for help. 

Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts about the content of this article!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about how to overcome nerves when meeting someone

Why do I get nervous when talking to someone?

Getting nervous when talking to someone is completely normal, we all have felt it at some point in our lives.

There could be several reasons why we get nervous when talking to someone specially if we just met that person.

Our thoughts are responsible for making us nervous, specially when we think about what the person may think of us, if what we are saying makes sense or is funny enough or smart enough.

We get anxious of the thought of being judged, criticized or rejected.

How do I stop being nervous around guys?

To stop being nervous around guys you need to start by breathing.

This will disengage your body from the physical arousal you are experiencing when you are around guys.

Try not to engage in a conversation “one on one” at first because it can lead to a lot of awkward silences so try to talk to that guy when you are in a group situation.

In addition, try to talk to them on social media or over text first because it gives you more time to think about what you could say.

How can I be confident when meeting someone new?

If you want to feel more confident when meeting someone new you could:

  • Breathe, this will actually make you feel more relaxed and calm your nerves.
  • Let them do the talking (at first) this will take pressure off from thinking how to start the conversation.
  • Think about how they could be even more nervous than you do.
  • Make eye contact, but if you feel too intimidated by looking into their eyes just look into the middle of their forehead, giving the illusion you are actually looking at them.
  • Offer a friendly hello and a smile. This will make yourself more welcoming and friendly.
  • Listen to what they say and ask follow-up questions, so they feel you are interested.

How do you overcome nervousness?

To overcome your nervousness start by recognizing you feel nervous and it is normal.

Also, breathe your way through it and know your strengths, this will actually make you feel more confident.

Flip the switch and think about how being nervous is not actually a bad thing and how sometimes we can use it as something positive.

How can you tell if someone is nervous?

Sometimes it can be very difficult to spot when someone is nervous because they have developed skills to conceal it very well.

However, for some others, it is pretty obvious they are nervous if they start sweating, are blushed, appear disinterested or disengage from the conversation, their speech does not make much sense, or they start stuttering.

Recommended reading

  • Overcome Social Anxiety and Shyness: A Step-By-Step Self Help Action Plan to Overcome Social Anxiety, Defeat Shyness and Create Confidence
  • How to Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety
  • You Care Too Much: Free Yourself from Social Anxiety
  • Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioural Techniques
  • How To Talk to Anyone: A guide book on how to improve your Charisma, stop social Anxiety, learning an Effective communication, Overcome Relationship Insecurity and increase your Self-esteem

References 

Notas, N. (2015, Jan.) 18 Exercises to Overcome Your Fear of Meeting People. 

How to overcome nerves when meeting someone (Tips)

Daniela Paez

Daniela Paez is a Clinical Psychologist with an MSc. In Clinical Neuropsychology from Bangor University. She has vast experience in working with children with disabilities, adolescents and their families, in extreme conditions of poverty and vulnerability. Additionally, she owns a private practice where she provides neuropsychological evaluation for children and adults, and treatment for mood disorders, anxiety, couple therapy, among other conditions.