For a lot of guys, speaking to beautiful women is nerve-racking. But for introspective guys who don’t feel like socializing comes naturally to them?
It’s more like nerve-eviscerating.
While we all know, and I think most of us agree, that you should never judge a book by its cover, the truth is that we can’t really help it—even when that book is a human being, and especially when that book is a particularly attractive human being.
According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental and Social Psychology, men use up an inordinate amount of their cognitive resources when in the presence of a beautiful woman:
“We conclude men’s cognitive functioning may temporarily decline after an interaction with an attractive woman,” according to the researchers.
Their reasoning for why this happens probably won’t surprise you. Men have simply evolved to be “reproductively focused,” as psychologist Dr. George Fieldman, of the British Psychological Society, told the Telegraph.
That’s a wonderfully British way of saying that there’s some prehistoric part of your brain that treats every encounter with an attractive woman as a potential chance to extend your gene pool.
On the one hand, this is sort of good news. It means you’re not alone – and there’s no reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed – if you tend to get nervous and feel out of sorts around attractive women. You’re just a dude. (Or a chap, as it were.)
On the other hand, simply knowing why you get nervous talking to women isn’t going to help you get any better at it.
That’s where this blog post comes in.
In this post you’ll learn:
- How to speak to women confidently and respectfully—without resorting to insulting or “negging” them to try and make yourself feel better
- The most common mistake introspective guys make when talking to beautiful women (or anyone else, for that matter), and how to correct it
- Strategies you can use to harness your nerves and calm yourself down
- Some of the best books I’ve found for increasing your social confidence (for those who really want to improve)
- And, as a special bonus for my email subscribers, some situational conversation starters that will help you get the ball rolling—along with more techniques to make you a confident conversationalist
How to Talk to Attractive Women
Correcting a Common Mistake
For years I would get nervous about speaking to other people in social settings like parties or bars, or professional settings like conferences or job interviews.
My mind would race, my palms would sweat, and I’d rack my brain trying to figure out what to say and how to say it.
When the person I was talking to happened to be an attractive woman, all of my usual socializing stress would get dialled up to about 110 (on a scale that only goes up to five).
What should I talk about?
What tone of voice should I use?
What will she think of me?
Will she find me attractive?
After years of feeling more or less debilitated by my nerves, I realized I needed to do something about it if I was ever going to make a connection with another human being, let alone one who I find attractive.
Since I was shy and nervous about talking to other people, asking people for advice wasn’t really an option. Instead, I did what any nerd worth his glasses would do, and I turned to books. I consumed every book about talking to people that I could possibly get my hands on (I’ll reveal the most effective titles I found a little later).
And after doing a deep dive into the literature about socializing and talking to people, I realized that I was guilty of making one of the most common mistakes in the book. One of the reasons I was getting so nervous about talking to women (and everyone else) was because I was thinking way too much about myself.
Look at that list of things that would race through my mind:
What should I talk about?
What tone of voice should I use?
What will she think of me?
Will she find me attractive?
Notice how I wasn’t concerned at all about what she might be thinking or feeling in that moment? I was doing what Charles Duhigg, in his book Smarter, Faster, Better, calls “cognitive tunnelling.” I was so focused on my own nervousness that I didn’t stop to consider that the person I’m talking to might be nervous too!
At any given moment, about 40-to-60 percent of adults report being shy people. So literally any time you’re talking to someone – even someone gorgeous – there’s even odds that they’re just as shy and nervous as you are.
But by fretting about our own appearance and performance in the conversation, we tend to forget that our conversation partner is a human being, too. And like all human beings, she has flaws, insecurities, fears, hopes, dreams, ambitions, etc.
If you want to be better at talking to attractive women, you’ve got to learn how to listen.
When speaking to a beautiful woman, try to remember that she’s just a human – no more, and certainly no less. And since all humans have a need to feel acknowledged, appreciated and heard, this should be your goal when engaging someone in conversation, no matter how attractive.
What can you say that would make her feel more comfortable and at ease?
How can you alleviate some of her nervousness about talking to other people?
What kind of topics might she want to talk about in this situation? (Use the form below to sign up for my email and I’ll provide a few clues.)
Consciously refocus your attention away from yourself and onto her, and you’ll start to forget about your own insecurities.
Know What to Say
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Being Calm, Confident & Courageous
You’re at some social or professional function when a beautiful woman wanders into your vicinity or joins your conversation.
Out of nowhere, your heart starts racing a mile a minute; your palms, brow, underarms and (ahem) under carriage all start sweating; and your mind starts desperately searching for something – anything! – to say, while simultaneously worrying that she’s going to notice how nervous you’ve suddenly become.
We’ve all been there. (Or at least, I have.)
And while, as we’ve just learned, men are physiologically predisposed to losing our shit when we come into contact with an attractive woman, the good news is that there are a number of strategies you can use to help you counteract your body’s inclination to go bananas.
1. Prime Yourself for Presence
When you feel nervous, stressed out or anxious, it’s because your brain is releasing cortisol, known as the stress hormone, into your blood system.
By contrast, testosterone is kind of like the “confidence hormone” because of the way it makes you feel more assertive.
So, wouldn’t it be great if there were a quick, easy and natural way to lower your cortisol levels and boost your testosterone right before you enter a situation where you’re likely to encounter attractive women?
Why yes, yes it would. And fortunately, science has provided us with one. (Thanks, science!)
According to a 2012 study published by social psychologist and Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy and her colleagues, striking a dominant pose and holding it for two minutes increased study participants’ testosterone by 20% and decreased their cortisol levels by 25%.
The study was business-focused, so it asked participants to “power pose” for two minutes before subjecting them to a mock job interview, and the results were clear: “high power posers performed better and were more likely to be chosen for hire.”
But in her ridiculously popular TED Talk, Cuddy explains how power posing can be beneficial before any nerve-racking situation – like, say, going to a party full of attractive women.
One of my favorite things about this technique is not only that it’s science-backed, but that it’s something you do before you throw yourself into the lion’s den and start socializing with attractive women.
You’ve got a lot on your mind while you’re actually talking – or working up the nerve to talk – to people. So it’s great that you can just steal away for two minutes (you can even do it in a bathroom stall, if you can’t find any better smelling pockets of privacy) and put yourself in a more confident state.
2. Find Your Courage — in Five Seconds Flat
This post is about how to talk to women, but maybe that’s putting the cart before the horse a little.
For some of us (myself included), figuring out what to say to a woman is the second hurdle we have to leap—the first is working up the nerve to actually approach them in the first place.
During those tense moments when we feel our pulses start racing and the sweat starting to form, making excuses for why we shouldn’t go speak to someone we’re interested in can seem a lot more appealing.
Oh, she’s talking to some other people, it would be rude of me to interrupt.
She probably has a boyfriend, so there’s no point in me introducing myself.
She’s pretty, but she doesn’t look like someone I could really connect with, so why bother?
In those moments, the temptation to rationalize your nervousness and let yourself off the hook is strong—meaning you need a strategy strong enough to counter your fear.
The Five Second Rule
Enter Mel Robbins and her “five second rule.”
Her trick was to count backwards, like a NASA countdown before a rocket launch: “5-4-3-2-1.” When she got to “1” her mind was clear of all the negative thoughts that would usually seep in and hold her back, and she sprang out of bed.
She realized her little trick was stupidly simple, but found it so effective that she started implementing it in almost every area of her life, motivating herself to workout more, advance her career and improve her marraige. Eventually she became kind of obsessed with it, and spent three years researching and writing a book about it, aptly titled The 5 Second Rule.
Not unlike Amy Cuddy, the Harvard psychologist mentioned above, Robbins also took the time to explain the crux of her findings in a TED Talk.
If you don’t have 20 minutes to watch the video right now, I’ll spare you the nitty gritty details (for more on the behavioral psychology of the rule and Robbins’ book, keep an eye out for my full review, coming early July).
But the gist of it is that counting backwards temporarily knocks your mind off balance, allowing you to circumvent your brain’s annoying tendency to send you self-defeating thoughts.
This makes it the perfect technique for overcoming your fear of talking to attractive women. Unlike power posing, which requires you to steal away for a full two minutes, this one takes just five seconds to implement. I also like how perfectly it complements the power pose.
Next time you’re at a party, bar or social function that makes you nervous, you can pop into the bathroom for two minutes to power pose and get yourself in a better physiological state.
Then, when you see someone interesting (by which I mean attractive) who you want to talk to, you can count backwards from five, overcome your brain’s annoying habit of trying to talk you out of it, and go over to introduce yourself.
Discover Exactly What to Say
Of course, it’s a lot easier to summon the courage to go strike up a conversation if you know what the hell you’re going to say.
That’s why, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve put together a short series for my email subscribers that will show you:
- How to easily strike up small talk with anyone—no matter how attractive
- How to create a connection and avoid awkward pauses, and
- 20 charisma-building exercises (that actually work!)
Enter your email address below, and I’ll send them straight to your inbox.
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Further Reading to Refine Your Skills
Some guys seem to have no problem learning how to talk to women through trial and error, by tirelessly hitting the bar scene, desperately trying to strike up conversations, failing to make a connection, learning from their mistakes, and repeating this painful process—again, and again, and again. (And then again, just for good measure.)
I am not one of those guys.
As a studious introvert, I took a more academic approach. I devoured every book I could find in the self-help section that related to small talk, socializing or conversations. And while a lot of them were kind of bullshitty, a few really stood out—and made a profound impact on my social skills.
So if you want even more insight than can be provided in a single blog post (or even an accompanying email series), I highly recommend the titles below.
But First, a Quick Note:
You’ll notice that none of these books are written by self-proclaimed pick-up artists, or focus exclusively on talking to women. I can’t reiterate enough what I mentioned above: women are people – no more, and no less.
Of course, I realize that talking to women can be a whole different ball game, thanks to that aforementioned deeply rooted evolutionary hangover. But I still recommend developing the social, conversational and charisma skills that will allow you to talk to anyone with confidence, for two reasons:
First, if talking to attractive women makes you nervous, chances are that there are other people who make you nervous as well – be they potential clients or employers, strangers at a party, or anyone who you want to impress. So if you’re going to invest time and money into improving your people skills, your money will be better spent if you can apply those new skills across the board.
Second, while I can’t claim to know much about women, and I would never presume to speak for them, I feel pretty comfortable telling you this: they prefer to be spoken to like people, rather than “picked up.”
Alright, preamble over. On to the titles that most helped me boost my conversational confidence.
By Olivia Fox Cabane
Of the many revelations in this book, the most important (for me anyway) was this: charisma is something you can turn on and off.
While it may often seem like charisma is some magic power possessed only by those lucky enough to be born extroverted, Cabane demonstrates that charisma is actually more like a muscle—and this book will teach you how to flex it.
By Dale Carnegie
One of the most seminal works ever written about interacting with other people, Carnegie’s classic is divided into sections that sound like manna from heaven to guys who want to learn how to talk attractive women (or anyone else), with names like “Six Ways to Make People Like You,” and “Fundamental Techniques for Handling People.”
By Leil Lowndes
This is one of the few books whose subtitle, “92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships,” actually delivers—it’s probably done more to improve my social success than any other resource.
When I was considering reading it, I checked out the Amazon reviews and was sold when I read, “This book can make you into a special person.”
Today I wouldn’t say I’m special by any means, but I’m sure as hell a lot more comfortable making small talk with people – yes, even attractive people – and this book is a big reason why.
Goodbye to Shy
Also by Leil Lowndes
After reading How to Talk to Anyone I was hungry for more from Lowndes, and found this little gem in her catalogue.
This book does for particularly shy guys what the one above does for guys looking to improve their people skills. If you feel so shy, reserved or hesitant that even my advice about power posing and the five-second rule won’t help, start here instead.
How to Work a Room
By Susan RoAne
If you feel like you’ve reached the point where you want to move from merely being comfortable in a room to working it, this book can help you go next level.
It leans a little professional, providing tips for talking to people at professional networking events, but also covers plenty of social events, like parties and weddings.
Overall, it’s got good tips that can help you stand out from the socializing crowd.
How to Instantly Connect with Anyone
Again by Leil Lowndes
I know, I know. But I promise, I am neither the heir to Leil Lowndes’ estate, nor her scandalously young lover.
Possible May-December romances aside, this one is similar in structure to How to Talk to Anyone, but it’s techniques are a little more ninja. Where How to Talk to Anyone is a great way to get conversations (and relationships) started, this one helps you take them to the next level.
Once More, with Feeling:
Learn How to Strike up Small Talk
Since you’re still here (thanks for reading that whole thing, by the way), I thought I’d throw in one more reminder: enter your email address below to learn how to easily strike up small talk, create a connection, avoid awkward pauses, and more.