What to Do When You’re New | Keith Rollag

Summary of: What to Do When You’re New: How to Be Comfortable, Confident, and Successful in New Situations
By: Keith Rollag

Introduction

Entering new situations can often trigger anxiety and the fear of being excluded, leading to uncomfortable experiences amongst new people and environments. In the book ‘What to Do When You’re New’, Keith Rollag explores the roots of this anxiety and provides insightful methods to overcome it. Guided by biological and cultural evolution, Rollag dives into the importance of taking a mindful approach to new situations, honing communication skills, remembering names, asking the right questions, and building relationships. By adopting the getting-better mindset, readers have the opportunity to thrive in new situations and take advantage of learning and growth opportunities.

The Fear of New and the Need for Belonging

We are wired to fear the unknown since our early days of evolution, which is why we feel anxious in new situations. The anxiety of meeting strangers is reinforced by society at large, and yet, we are drawn to the notion of belonging to a group. The need to fit in stems from our biological makeup, as being excluded can be dangerous for social species like ours. Although survival in modern times doesn’t depend on belonging to a group, the desire for inclusion still exists. The paradox can be solved by finding ways to cope with anxiety and building positive relationships with oneself and others.

Embrace New Situations

To be better at handling new situations, one must overcome their blind “scripts” established in familiar circumstances and adopt a coach, gamer, or beginner’s mindset. Without mindful reflection, we are unable to improve over time. By seeing new situations as opportunities to learn, individuals can transform their approach to life and turn it into a fun challenge.

Effective Introductions

Introducing yourself effectively matters more than worrying about a weak first impression. A strategy for introductions can help overcome anxiety. Be brief, respectful, acknowledge the relationship, and follow up with a chat to establish the basis of your relationship. Ask questions and take notes to remember details about the other person. This will help you avoid anxiety and awkwardness in future interactions.

Remembering names made easy

Blame your prehistoric brain for not remembering names easily. The brain stores a person’s name in a different region than other details. Context-dependent recall might also hinder recall. However, there are ways to remember names. One strategy is to imagine the new person’s name written on their face or imagine them standing next to someone with the same name. Repeating the name during the conversation can also help process it.

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