In our quest to connect, learn, earn & grow we often have to throw ourselves into new situations. This can lead to us feeling anxious and worried about being the new person.
Hands up, does anyone really like to be the ‘newbie’? Nope, didn’t think so.
I’ve done it so many times now – new jobs, relocation to new areas, marrying into a family, joining parent & baby groups or even just starting a new exercise class – I have been the new girl a lot.
Over the years I’ve developed loads of techniques (well about 10, actually) that have helped me to feel more confident in these new situations.
So if you’re feeling nervous or worry is stopping you from going for some golden opportunities, I hope these tips will help you too!
How to feel more confident in new situations
Smiling is the most powerful tool in your ‘I’m new here’ arsenal. Smiling releases silent positive energy. There are numerous psychological and physical benefits available to us through smiling, not least that it helps us deal with stressful situations more effectively. Even if we’re faking a smile, we’ll reap the benefits.
I read somewhere recently – our energy speaks before we do – if we agree that smiling is positive energy, think of all the wonderful people and opportunities you open yourself up to with just one smile!
It’s been documented people who smile are seen as more likeable, attractive, intelligent, confident and trustworthy, so as you walk into that new situation, do so with a smile on your face.
02. You’ll only be this new once
OK a bit of mind-marketing granted, but I’ve always found it helpful to remind myself that I won’t be this new again. In the same respect, the anxiety will ease, the heart rate will calm and before you know it the unfamiliar will become familiar.
03. Be patient
Things take time. Bonds, skills, in-jokes – they all come but not necessarily the second you walk through the door. Just because you can’t master something on day one or be assigned a new BFF before you’ve even made a coffee, doesn’t mean you never will.
Set yourself positive but realistic expectations and have patience that the best is yet to come.
04. Come prepared
When possible I do as much fact finding as I can. It can be helpful to get any questions which are spiking your anxiety levels answered before you even arrive. So if you’re starting a new job, what’s the workwear expectation? What happens for lunch? Or if you’re joining a new parent & baby group, do you need to bring anything other than yourself, the baby and a changing bag?
Joining social media groups prior to attending can give you the opportunity for a ‘soft’ hello and already a name or two to connect with.
I always find practising mindfulness really useful in making me feel more confident in new situations.
Mindfulness meditation can help to calm you down before arriving, but once you’re there (and whenever I’m feeling particularly nervous) I take 3 mindful deep breaths with my hand over my heart.
Breathe in deeply (without forcing it), then breathe out slowly. This has a direct effect on two parts of your brain – the amygdala (which runs the body’s emergency response system, telling it the danger has passed) and the pre-frontal cortex (where conscious processing happens, interrupting the stress signals)
It’s like a little private super-power.
Want to learn more about mindfulness? Read: Being Mindful – Is mindfulness for you?
Walk yourself through what is about to happen. Visualise where you’re going, who you’re likely to meet, what you’re going to do. Try to include as much detail as you feel capable of. And try to keep your visualisation as positive as possible.
Insecurity often arises from picturing negative outcomes – so you’ve nothing to lose in spending time positively imagining everything going well and you being happy and OK within your new experience.
Need help being more positive? Read:How to be more positive
07. Ask questions
I feel I’m fairly justified in saying we all love to talk about ourselves. Therefore when you’re new and perhaps not feeling confident – questions are your get out of jail card.
Obviously, don’t get too personal, but I find if I’m stuck for what to say and need to keep a conversation flowing, a question is always the solution. It’s a really quick way to fact find too and helps you feel more confident in this new situation more quickly.
Do yourself a favour though and make sure you are actually listening to the responses!
08. Don’t mind read
You’re not psychic – unless you actually are – but for the majority of us, we’re not. There isn’t much to be gained – other than increased anxiety – from trying to second guess what the people you meet are thinking about you.
You are who you are, you are doing the best you can, let that be the end of it. Plus all the time you’re thinking about how you’re coming across you’re not fully in the moment and you’re most likely to be missing out.
A little trick I’ve started to employ when I feel my mind wandering is to think the word ‘later’. It’s a little reminder to myself that this thought is not relevant for now, it’s a thought for later.
Once I’ve left the situation, I have been known to journal my thoughts on how I believe it went. Always start with listing everything that went well – number 1 should always be – you did it! Then start a list of everything you’ve learned and could improve upon. This isn’t relevant for all situations – I didn’t journal after my first Zumba class, but when it comes to business meetings I find it useful.
09. No distractions
Quite simply keep your phone out of it. Phones are often a crutch when we’re feeling nervous and exposed. They’re a good excuse to not interact. Sitting scrolling through your phone screams ‘don’t approach me’ which when you’re new and feeling anxious isn’t the best way to make friends and feel confident. Unless it’s because you’re exchanging numbers or scanning the Instagram Nametags of the new people you’re interacting with, put your phone to the side.
10. Remember why you’re there
Remembering the reason why you’re even the new person in the first place is a good driver of confidence.
Is this the start of your dream job? Are you wanting to build a support network in your new area? Are you getting fit? Whatever your reason, it’s an important one, it’s going to help you grow, develop and live a life you’ll love.
Is fear of not being in control holding you back? Read: Confessions of a control-freak – How to manage a fear of losing control
You are certainly not in the minority if you’re scared of doing something new. That nervousness is a good sign, it shows you care and want to do well. The more you do something the less scary it becomes and wider your comfort zone gets – so take that leap! How do you cope with being new? Do you already do any of the suggestions I’ve mentioned? Are there any others that you use? What advice would you give to somebody going into a new situation? Whatever you have to say, I’d love to hear from you. Simply get in touch via the comments box below.