High Anxiety

Group of people talking and thinking, friends with speech bubbles, vector flat illustration

Recently, Holly Burns wrote a witty article in the NY Times titled “How to Talk to People Again.” It was about the social anxiety individuals are feeling now that we are again conversing in the same space, and how awkward those conversations can be.

Consider that when we meet in person, we’re wearing grown-up clothes, especially below the waist. Does that exacerbate our discomfort? Do we question whether to socially distance, wear a mask, shake hands or hug? If we feel rusty and need a dose of informal exposure therapy, practice conversing with friends before networking and pitching again.

Burns’ article suggested curiosity training or starting a conversation by asking what you’re interested in, which allows the brain to take over and provide appropriate follow-up. Eloqui trains this in an exercise called Active Cueing and Listening. Dig for details or specifics, repeat back occasionally what you’ve heard and then summarize. Focus on being present, not your performance.

Suggestions: Ask what TV people binged on during the pandemic. Or, where they are planning to visit. Or, how their business has changed, and do they think it will be permanent. Other options are what they’re looking forward to with in-person interactions-- like throwing parties or attending conferences. Establish commonalities, keep it positive, and be curious. We will recapture our ability for human-speak.

For a humorous take on a post-Zoom world: https://youtu.be/hjdx_7B8AnI. Thank you, friend and guest speaker/trainer William Hall.

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