pretty/handsome "shell" to come along. It takes hours (maybe
months) before you get more than a peek at the whole package.
Once you have found someone you would like to meet, guard
against making assumptions about how he/she will feel about being
approached by you (e.g. offended, embarrassed or thrilled). You can't
know. Just approach him/her and see what reaction you get. If you are
a caring, loving, harmless (innocent), enjoyable person and he/she is
not in need of a friend at the moment, what is lost? Don't
STEP TWO: Starting a conversation.
In chapter 9, I suggest that it is self-doubts, childish resentment,
and irrational embarrassment that keep us from approaching others,
rather than the fear of rejection. Regardless of the reasons for our
fears, initiating a conversation is hard for many of us. If it is for you,
reduce the inhibiting anxieties (see the next step) and practice
interacting with lots of people. The best advice is to be serious
(genuine) and straight-forward but friendly, don't be loud, critical or
flippant. A sense of humor helps but it isn't necessary. Don't be a
clown and don't grandstand (make loud remarks so bystanders can
hear you "making a move"). Think out, in advance, what you can say,
don't "wing it." There are new books coming out all the time in this
area (e.g. see Kahn,1996; Gaber, 1992; Martinet, 1991, and others
listed below or in your library).
Like acquiring most skills, it is helpful to observe good models and
then practice by role-playing. A small group can be formed to help
each other. Feedback and encouragement from the group or by video
recordings is very beneficial. Pay particular attention to the non-verbal
interaction that usually takes place before words are spoken. It is
important to first establish eye contact; this lets him/her know you are
interested. Remember to smile, how else will he/she know that you
are friendly and not an IRS agent? Then maneuver yourself close
enough to talk comfortably. This may be a special problem if either of
you are with a group. If you want to meet new people, you probably
need to leave your group and circulate alone for a while.
Perhaps the best opening comment gets straight to the point, "Hi,
I'm Clay. I've seen you at... and I'd like to get to know you better.
How about coffee or....?" Another example might be: "Hi. Doing the
laundry wouldn't be so bad if they served popcorn and beer while you
wait, right? (Wait for a response.) Would you like to have a beer or a
coke?" Attractive males and females can take this direct approach. It
is honest and, thus, appealing to both women and men. But if
personality and sincerity are your strong suites (not your looks), then
you may need a chance to display your strengths first before asking
for a "date."
Zunin and Zunin (1988) illustrate several indirect approaches, i.e.
you want to get acquainted first and then consider asking for a date.