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What to Do When You're New

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What to Do When You're New

How to Be Comfortable, Confident, and Successful in New Situations


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Learn to conquer your social fears and anxieties.

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Do you avoid people because you’ve forgotten their names? Do you take a friend with you to events so you’re assured of knowing someone? You won’t need to worry about such social anxiety if you follow this easy guide to handling introductions, remembering names and asking questions that lead to good conversations and great relationships. Keith Rollag offers straightforward, practical techniques to help you – as a newcomer – move past crippling anxiety about new situations. Although his directives are clear, he knows that changing your patterns of interaction isn’t easy. He offers commonsense, clear techniques you can use to overcome social anxiety, starting with using “reflection and practice” to change your emotional responses and move past fear. Rollag emphasizes strong, interpersonal skills but and warns against becoming too attached to the Internet and social media. getAbstract recommends his advice for navigating new jobs and relationships to anyone who ever feels nervous in a social setting.


“Being New”

To succeed, you need to keep learning new things. Whether you move to a strange city, change organizations, go back to school or adopt a new fitness regime, your happiness and success depend on how well you handle the fear of being the new person in a group.

“Always a Newcomer”

Throughout life, as you accumulate new experiences, you will always encounter situations where you are the newcomer. You might find yourself in the role of the new person in some fresh way almost every day. Your confidence as a newcomer can help determine your job performance and feelings of satisfaction.

In all kinds of settings, like family celebrations, doctors’ appointments or seminars, you must be able to draw on the basic skills of meeting strangers, introducing yourself and remembering names. As an adult, your work may require you to network and build new professional relationships. Some people join organizations for the purpose of networking and then find that fear keeps them from introducing themselves to anyone new. If you are going to a gathering, don’t take a friend. Having someone familiar with you will impede your efforts to talk to and get to know new...

About the Author

Organizational researcher and consultant Keith Rollag is associate professor of management and chairperson of the management division at Babson College. He writes for The New York Times.

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