How come we get so frightened at the thought of meeting new people (especially in unfamiliar places)?
Having given it some thought, I’ve come to the conclusion the blame lies with my mother. All the time when I was a kid she used to say “Don’t talk to strangers!” It was like a mantra that she’d repeat time and time again.
So, when you combine this childhood fear of strangers with the fear of rejection you have a pretty powerful set of emotions that quickly cause the nerves to kick in whenever we’re faced with the prospect of meeting new people. .
Now, it may make seriously good sense to tell a young child to beware of strangers, however for some reason we carry this fear with us into adulthood. The problem is that the situations we face as adults are very much different than the ones we face as children and the “Don’t talk to strangers!” advice is an absolute killer in most business situations.
Can you remember the last time you went to a networking event and saw someone being openly rejected? Have you ever introduced yourself to someone and got totally blanked by them? Ever had a room full of people bent double, slapping their thighs laughing at you because you attempted to speak to someone you don’t know?
I seriously doubt that any of the above have happened to you at a networking event. Let’s face it people go to networking events in the main for the purpose of ‘meeting’ new people not ‘rejecting’ new people.
Your ego may have taken a bit of a slap if someone didn’t find you as interesting as you thought they would. However, their loss not yours. Peter Thomson uses an example of what he calls the Chelsea post code that fits this situation. It’s SW3! Some will, some won’t, so what, move on :0)
So, swallow your fear and remember this. If you’re feeling a bit edgy about being in a room full of strangers you probably won’t be on your own. There’ll be a lot more in that room feeling exactly the same as well and they’ll be mighty glad of a nice friendly face to talk to.
So, for once mums not right (sorry mum).
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