As I venture through coping with anxiety and how to overcome it, I do what any other person does and I turn to Google. There are tons of great sites at my disposal (I personally find SucceedSocially.com to be particularly enlightening and it covers a wide range of topics, and even includes examples) and all of them offer a wealth of knowledge. A common theme, particularly when out and about, is striking up a conversation with a random stranger. Most sites emphasize that (usually) people are open and receptive to someone striking up a conversation with them. A simple, “Hi, my name is… It’s nice to meet you.” will suffice. From succeedsocially.com,
That will break the ice, and they may start talking to you after that. If not, you just traded names, and you essentially have to use another conversation starter to get it going for real. With new people you don’t always have to introduce yourself to start talking to them. You could start the conversation in another way, and after a while it will only feel natural to introduce yourselves to each other – “I’m Kara, by the way”
It’s a low pressure approach and versatile for many situations: at the bar, networking events, at a new job, etc. Reading body language and nonverbal cues is critical, but overall, the average person is receptive. From there, it can merge into small talk (an underrated concept), a comment on the place or situation, current events, etc.
However, and this is speaking strictly from personal experience, there is one area where this is not only a “doomed for failure” approach, it is even blatantly frowned upon and met with open criticism: dating apps. Tinder, Bumble, OKCupid, take your pick. As a polyamorous person, I decided to try the world of modern dating apps. Although they’re open to a wide range of demographics, they cater to millennials so I figured it would be worth a shot. And worst case scenario, even if nothing romantic or physical happens, I could potentially make a new friend and expand my social circle.
To my dismay, though, countless profiles I’ve come across contain a disclaimer along the lines of “Don’t just message me ‘hey, how’s it going?’ Actually have something to say.” I understand the mentality – I really do. It’s way too easy, when someone asks how it’s going, to just answer with “fine” or “I’m good.” It makes sense. Personally, I would be ecstatic if someone messaged me with a “Hi” out of the blue. Everyone has different experiences and I don’t fall into the group of people that knows of luxury of being approached regularly.
But for some people, myself included, sometimes a simple “hello” is the best they can muster up. Maybe it’s anxiety, nervousness, or being shy. At least your honesty spares me the trouble and 99.9% of the time, I move on and swipe left without incident. However, there is a lingering fear in the back of mind: this constant nagging of, “If all these people are this selective on dating apps, does that selectivity translate to the world of face to face interactions? Having no knowledge, background, or prior interaction with these people, if I were to see one out at a bar or somewhere public and desired initiating just friendly, casual conversation, would they rebuke my less-than-desirable greeting of ‘hey, how’s it going?'”
Just something I’ve noticed…