I was lining up to see my lecturer, when I remembered the lesson taught in this session and I thought I could say “hello” to one of my coursemates. I said “hello” to her, but she just gave the faintest smile and then looked away. I feel like this is my biggest difficulty all the time, that people don’t respond to me when I approach them. can anyone tell me how to overcome this?
You said hello to someone. You took the first step. You took the initiative. Good job.
That is enough. That is great. You could choose to focus on that instead of another aspect of this dynamic. If you choose to be glad that you did it, see the proactivity, this will keep you away from over-analyzing. This would be the way you “overcome this”. You’ve already overcome it, in my mind. But if you choose to view this as something not overcome, something you fail at, you increase the chances that you are not relaxing in these situations, being less calm, being less yourself without anxiety. If you choose to see just the “hello” as good enough, you’ll end up calmer and more natural with your “hellos” and anything else you choose to say.
There’s no guarantee or law that says because we say hello that the other person must react with kindness or with anything. She smiled. That’s positive, isn’t it? What were you expecting? I think simple hellos can lead to conversation, sure. But they can also lead nowhere, just like here. “Hi. - Hello.” “Hello. -(smile).” If you expect a huge outcome out of a hello, that is unrealistic. Did you give out the hello in order to get something? Or did you just say hello to be nice? Neither reason is necessarily good or bad - just a reason. But, at the same time, we do not need to get wrapped up in irrational expectations over this.
Do we know how that person’s day is going? No. Do we know what she was thinking in her mind when you said hello? No. Do we know if she’s distracted? No. Do we know if she is having a good or bad day? No. Do we know if she herself might be nervous to say hello to other people? No. We don’t know. There is no way of knowing this stuff about all people at all times. And there is no reason for us to need to know. Don’t get wrapped up in that anyway. And, by extension, you are getting wrapped up in that if you are questioning why isn’t there more than a smile back.
You might say, sure I know all that, but I just can never have normal conversations with people, or people never talk to me even when I try. Okay, fair enough. We can’t ignore reality. We have all had awkward exchanges, either we are a bit awkward at times or we know when someone is feeling a bit awkward towards us. This may not lend itself to people wanting to stay in conversation quite as long - you and the other person. But worrying about being awkward is not helpful. That will only increase the likelihood of focusing on that feeling. You know one can embrace that being fine, too. The second you do, you’ll likely be less awkward, if that was even the case to begin with. You don’t overcome this ANT by dwelling on it, analyzing it, worrying about it, pressuring an outcome. You know that.
We are all finely tuned, sensitive beings walking around. We get information from our environments all the time, whether or not we know it - we are processing this. Social communication. Direct and indirect communication. For instance, I think most of us know when a person feels needy, or when a person seems to have some ulterior motive for speaking with us. You know the car salesman has an objective. I think it’s fair to say that for many of us, myself included, if we haven’t talked to people in a while or don’t always have close friends to share things with, then we want that, there is that urge to WANT to speak with someone. In this sense, we are needy. It’s not a bad thing. It’s only natural. Just keep things rational and in perspective. Be honest with yourself.
The more you calm down, practice small things, continue saying hello and making small talk when you can, the more your confidence and peace will grow. I think what you’re doing is already great. You were in class and you said hi to someone. I can’t remember ever doing that once in 4 years of college. So, well done. You’re doing the right thing. Just because we do something, though, doesn’t mean the rest of the world HAS to act a certain way back, or that the rest of the world HAS to be having a good day. Don’t go to that way of thinking/worrying/consideration. That won’t help anyone.
Small talk is something people do, and something we can “practice”. If you rationally know that it is tough for you to make small talk, which is fine and understandable, there are different settings/groups/activities where you can also practice this. All of life is really open, but within reason it may be harder to strike up small talk in some places. It may even be less accepted to do so. Saying hi to a classmate, though, that’s great.
There’s another reality here that women know more than guys. Women go through life, better or worse, getting chatted up way more than most guys. Imagine if you got chatted up everywhere you went. Would you then maybe be nice sometimes but not necessarily let conversation flow each and every time, especially if you were tired or just having a bad day?
Don’t pressure yourself. Don’t expect irrational outcomes. But, do be nice. Do say hello when appropriate. Do take the first step. Do tell yourself you did a good job by just doing.
I think it is great that you actually took the initiative and said hello. That’s what matters and what helps you get better. About her not responding very warmly, think about it rationally. It most probably does not have anything to do with you. Rather, her mind was probably occupied with something. Try not to generalize as well, just because somebody did not respond to you it does not mean that all people do not respond.