It’s the perfect summer night, and you’re about to head to a popular restaurant in a nearby town.
As you wait for your table, you notice that a few tables are empty, and one person is leaning against a wall.
You think, “Is this really that bad?”
Then, as the man begins to get up and leave, he stops and gives you a hug.
“Hey, man, it’s ok, I’m not drunk,” he says.
“Just relax and drink some wine.
You’ll be fine.”
It’s an unexpected experience.
While some people may consider it rude to hug strangers, the act is a gesture that is both genuine and in-character.
It’s also a sign of good social connection.
As we get to know people in real life, it becomes easier to understand their social anxiety.
“It can be really awkward to hug somebody if they’re really nervous or angry,” says Laura Pincus, a social worker at the Center for the Prevention of Domestic Violence at St. Louis University.
But that’s part of what makes it so hard to bond with people.
“You want to feel like you’re not the person who’s doing this, so you want to try to get as much out of it as you can,” Pincuess says.
She says hugging someone can help with social anxiety and anxiety about strangers.
“If you hug someone, it feels like you really connect with them.
It makes it easier for you to know that you’re doing them a favor.”
But there are some things that people with social phobia can do to help.
Pincuss is one of those people.
Pinch yourself to see if you can get to the bottom of this person’s anxiety.
If you can’t, you might want to check out a different restaurant or go to a group of people who aren’t afraid to hug.
And don’t let your fears get the best of you.
“Don’t worry about it,” Pancus says.
Instead, try to make eye contact with someone who is willing to share their emotions and feel comfortable with you.
It might be easier to do this in front of people, if you know them well.
But it’s a good idea to have people around who will also try to talk to you.
Pancuss advises having a “gentle hug,” which involves holding on to someone and then smiling, holding the person’s hand, and saying, “I’m here for you.”
You can also try asking for help, by saying “I feel a little anxious” or “I don’t know what to say,” or asking someone else for advice.
If the person is having a difficult time, they might feel like they don’t want to talk about it.
“When you hug somebody, you have a way of saying, ‘It’s ok.
It can be a little uncomfortable, but I’m here to help,'” Pancuses says.
When it comes to talking to strangers, “you want to be sure that you’ve got the right person to ask about this.
And then, when they have a question, you’re going to ask that too.”