A simple way to overcome nerves and anxiety in a first meeting
Some people are lucky enough to be assertive, confident and charming no matter who they’re meeting with.
If you’re anything like me, this doesn’t happen anywhere near as much as you’d like.
In fact, sometimes it’s the absolute opposite – especially when it’s a meeting with someone successful, important, or terrifyingly smart.
These are the kinds of things that tend to happen:
- You talk at hyperspeed – like you’ve just mainlined 3 espressos
- You worry about saying the wrong thing and get lost in your thinking
- You go way off-piste and talk in confusing tangents
- You suddenly forget all that interesting stuff you wanted to ask them
Here’s one simple option to help manage this.
Take a walk.
As well as being the best way to explore (most) places and a good form of exercise, a walking meeting can also do wonders for relieving anxiety.
- You can just meander, or ask the person you’re with to suggest a route they like. In either case, the route you’re about to take is an easy icebreaker topic (especially if they’re choosing it)
- You won’t run out of stuff to talk about (especially in places like New York where there is something noteworthy happening on just about every street corner)
- Whether you’re out in the forest or on busy city streets, being outside and moving around allows for more natural pauses in conversation. The perceived pressure of needing to have an instant response or follow up question is lessened when you’re out for a walk.
- There’s a decent chance they spend a lot of their time indoors – they’ll likely appreciate the change in environment (although maybe skip the walking meeting if it’s pouring with rain or icy cold)
- If you tend to get a little anxious being put directly opposite someone the first time you meet them, the walking option reduces a lot of that anxiety as it’s not expected for you to make direct eye contact all the time (have you ever walked down the street with someone and been able to look at them for more than a few seconds?).
- If they pick the route it’s easier to prevent going over time. If they’re smart they’ll know the best way to get back to their departure point at the exact time they want to
Of course, not everyone you meet is going to want to talk a walk, and sometimes the extra stimulus may affect your concentration.
But for a first-time meeting where you’re looking to find rapport and get to know each other, you may be surprised how pleasant it can be to just go and take a walk together.