Going into a new situation and initiating conversations with people is often a cause of anxiety for introverts because of worries they may have about what to say. As introverts, we tend to take this kind of situation a lot more seriously than extroverts do, for which reason some of us plan what we are going say before we approach and begin conversations with new people.

The more we stay stuck up in our own heads, the more anxious we will be when it comes to beginning a conversation with somebody else. If we can pull ourselves down out of our neurotic thoughts that go around in circles worrying about what to say next, it will help us to feel a lot more at ease in the social moment. Whenever you realise that your attention is focused on your own thoughts and not what is happening around you, switch your attention to noticing what is going on external to your mind. This means being present with your senses – what do you see, smell and hear going on in the space around you?

In terms of what to say when meeting a new person – it really is okay for you to keep it simple. Nearly all conversations follow the same pattern when we meet a new person: you simply say hi and introduce yourself. After this quick exchange, which is practically the same each and every time we meet someone new, we can follow up with a simple small talk question such as ‘Are you having fun?’ Since this part of a conversation can be so simple, why worry ourselves unnecessarily about saying something unique or funny?

The fear of going up to people and beginning conversations is what’s known as ‘approach anxiety’. When we suffer from approach anxiety our inner concerns relate to whether we will be accepted or rejected by a person we wish to meet for the first time. When this fear is very strong in us, we may choose to never approach new people because it means, then, that we can’t be rejected by them. The problem with this self-protective reflex, however, is that it serves to keep us disconnected from others and our social worlds relatively small. If you happen to get approach anxiety, telling yourself an internal mantra such as ‘I like and approve of myself’ can over time help you to develop core confidence about yourself. In this way, as we build up core confidence about ourselves, we worry much less about what other people think of us: our opinion of ourselves and our personal value begins to come first, where it rightly belongs.

The more experienced we become at approaching new people and beginning simple conversations with them, the easier it becomes. While I always recommend keeping the beginning chunk of a conversation simple (there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, after all!), you may then wish to follow up with a more creative conversation starter which reflects your personality. Click here for 101 Conversation Starters via Tower of Power.