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Dealing with Social Anxiety

Posted on January 15, 2009

Mary C. Blehar (bio) gives advice to those who are worried about beginning collaborations with senior researchers.


So, I guess for those individuals who find it more challenging to just come up and talk with strangers, I suggest probably, number one, try to practice this skill. It's going to be difficult. It's probably never going to be you know, totally easy. You're always going to feel anxious in that situation. It just goes with being a person who's somewhat introverted and I think you can probably improve that, but I don't think you can change that entirely. But you certainly can, perhaps, approach someone you're interested in collaborating with, and do that in writing, where you have an opportunity to be thoughtful and that might help. And if you're fortunate, they might say, "Oh yes, I'll love to meet you for lunch," and then viola, you have that opportunity.

I think for most social encounters in most situations, being able to talk comfortably in a public setting is definitely an enormous asset and one that, if it doesn't come to you naturally, you really have to work on developing.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2008 Leadership Training Institute in Bethesda, MD.


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