A Simple Challenge That Will Bring On Instant Anxiety
“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” -Jerry Seinfeld
This one is going to really push you. I’m not sure the evolutionary psychological origin of the fear of public speaking. I’m guessing it has something to do with the primitive tribal mentality. If you made a fool out of yourself in front of you tribe you might have been ostracized and forced to live outside of your tribal home. This meant you could fall prey to predators, starve, be deprived of shelter, or fire. All really nasty things for a tribesman. Maintaining your membership and status within the tribe may have been a matter of life and death.
Good thing tribes don’t exist today. Well, they of course do, but it’s not a matter of life or death. Someone can always join a new tribe. And, just guessing here, nobody has ever died because of a gaffe on a YouTube video.
Anyways, back to the challenge. It’s about public speaking. I’m not asking you to join Toast Masters or sign up to be a speaker at a community college.
This one is simple and nerve racking.
The next stranger you see, yes the very next. Go up to them and strike up a conversation.
Ask them what time it is. Ask them where is a good place to eat. Just do it! It’s liberating and not that scary.
Try not to be creepy. Compose yourself. Take a deep breathe and approach them in a way you would if you saw an old friend. “Hi! D’you have a second? I was just wondering if you could tell me the best place to get a bite ’round here.”
Did you feel that? Your stomach might have tied itself in knots or had butterflies. But, it wasn’t so hard. It’s ok. Now, you have a new frame of reference. Remember that time when you approached a stranger? Yeah, you didn’t die. Congrats, you’re done with your challenge for the day.