I'm a semi-senior Computer Engineer, and I feel my biggest skill to improve is my ability to think about things when talking to not-known people.

Say I have an X problem to solve, not necessarily a technical one, could be a functional question about the business domain. If I try to solve X without other people talking with me (i.e: doing it alone), or with people I have some kind of confidence, I have a really clear and fast ideas to solve almost most problems.

But when faced to the same task X but trying it to solve it 'live' with people I don't know very well, I seem to transform to an below average IQ person.

My best guess is that I have some kind of anxiety because I'm very self-demanding.

I'd really like to achieve being as relaxed when solving problems when talking to strangers as when I'm thinking them alone or with known people.

I'm looking forward to some advice to address this issue, maybe some book recommendation, tips from experience, or anything that could help me improving.


3 Answers 3


My son suffered this problem and would not only forget basic things he knew but also utter some stupid answer that he knew was stupid as soon as he had said it which would compound the situation.

My advice to him was not to answer a question straight away, but take a deep breath and think first then speak. His problem was anxiety about what the people were thinking of him and that they were secretly questioning his intelligence. It has taken a couple of years of practice to become more confident in this area to the degree where he can be thrown in the deep end and not go into a panic.

The First part was to believe he was better then the person who was asking the question, I was lucky that I could talk and not suffer anxiety, so it was a little hard for me to grasp his problem to start with, but now that I understand it, we have developed tools that work for him. His main problem was worrying about what people would think of him upon meeting them or not knowing him well. He had to believe in himself that they have no predefined conceptions of him and so he could talk normally without going into cold sweats and then making a fool of himself by what he would reply.

I don't know if this will help you but it has helped my son with what sounds a similar situation.

  • 2
    I really identified with your son. The past days I tried the 'believe I'm better than the person that was asking the question' and that quite boost my confidence, even when the idea seems a bit odd to me. Mar 13, 2014 at 1:04

The answer to improving any skill is to practice. That means finding people you don't know very well, and solving problems with them in person. Perhaps you could join a debating club :) Or even start a club with the purpose of helping people with the same problem to overcome it (and potentially solve important problems at the same time!) If you regularly had enough new members, you could help each other in one-on-ones and regularly be practicing with someone (relatively) unfamiliar.


Another solution to your issue is to find a set of words that allow you to ask for time to solve the problem.

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