Ten "Getting To Know You" Questions For People With Social Anxiety

Medically reviewed by Krista Klund, LCSW
Updated April 17, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Some people have outgoing personality traits and are able to chat it up without any anxiety, however, this is not the case for people living with social anxiety. Living with social anxiety may make everyday interactions feel uncomfortable. Social anxiety disorder can cause difficulty making friends, dating, or succeeding at work or school. People with social anxiety may prefer to mind their own business and not reveal sensitive information to others, especially new acquaintances. 

When getting to know someone, questions can play an essential role in starting a conversation. Preparing for social conversations by practicing questions ahead of time may help ease symptoms of social anxiety or social anxiety disorder.

It’s possible to find freedom from social anxiety disorder

What is social anxiety disorder?

Social anxiety disorder is a mental health condition that is more than shyness or introversion and impacts men’s and women’s health. People who live with social anxiety disorder may experience fear in social situations to the extent that their relationships, lifestyle, and functioning are inhibited. Asking questions to get to know someone during small talk might assist to alleviate these worries.

Social anxiety disorder affects approximately 12.1% of American adults and is the second most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder.

In adults, common emotional symptoms may include:

  • Avoidance of activities or situations in which others may notice you
  • Extreme anxiety before and during social interactions
  • A tendency to reflect negatively on your performance in social interactions after the fact
  • An intense worry you may embarrass yourself, appear anxious, or show physical signs of nervousness in social situations

Social anxiety disorder typically impacts adults and adolescents, but children can sometimes experience this disorder. The signs of social anxiety disorder in children vary but may include the following:

  • Crying or behaving emotionally in public
  • Resistance to speaking to strangers or people in social situations
  • Crying in anticipation of social events
  • Clinging to parents or caregivers in public
  • Being unable to verbalize thoughts or feelings in social situations

Social anxiety disorder may also be characterized by somatic (physical) symptoms, including:

  • Nausea
  • Facial flushing
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Shaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • A pounding heart

Social anxiety disorder may impact each person differently. Some people may experience significant symptoms when engaging in social events with large groups of people, like parties, conferences, or work or school events. Others may struggle with activities like using public restrooms, eating in a restaurant, or dating.

10 "getting to know you" questions for people experiencing social anxiety

Asking open-ended questions, like questions that begin with "who," "what," "how," or "why," may encourage conversation. They typically can't be answered with a "yes" or "no" response, so they can create opportunities for further discussion.

Because people with social anxiety disorder might feel anxious initiating conversation, utilizing open-ended questions may help ease the burden of repeatedly thinking of new things to ask those you're in conversation with.

Studies show that social connection is valuable to your physical and mental health, which may be one motivator to work through anxious feelings. Here are some thought-provoking open-ended questions to jumpstart your next conversation with someone.

Which of the five senses could you live without and why?

This question may help you understand more about the person you're talking to. It may reveal someone's hobbies or interests, as well.

For example, someone who loves to read may not want to live without their sense of sight, while someone who enjoys cooking or eating may respond that they cannot live without their sense of taste or smell.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and what would you do with it?

Someone's answer to which superpower they'd have in a hypothetical situation may show you how imaginative someone is and give you insight into their primary values.

For example, if someone states they would like to read thoughts, so they always know what other people think about them, they might be introspective. If they say they'd like to fly to travel all over the world quickly, they might be adventurous. If they make up a superpower, they might be creative or goofy.

What is your greatest achievement?

Some people might think this question is more appropriate for an interview, but it may tell you a lot about another person. The response to this question may reveal the other person's self-confidence, self-esteem, or egotism. It might also give you insight into what they do for work or how they spend their free time.

What animal is most like you and why?

Asking someone the animal that most represents them may lead to silly and fun or serious and thoughtful answers. You might learn about their hobbies, personality, or temperament based on how they answer. Either way, this question can lead to further conversation.

If you knew you were going to be on a deserted island, what three items would you take with you?

This question may tell you if you're speaking to someone practical, sentimental, or silly. It can also show you some of their favorite things, which could be things you have in common.

For example, if they couldn't live without their favorite book, the conversation could easily transition into discussing their favorite authors. Suppose the person is interested in survival planning. In that case, they may discuss what items would prove most useful in a survival situation such as the one in question.

What do you excel at?

This question may help you learn about others' skills, hobbies, and personalities. It might indicate low self-confidence if they can't think of anything they excel at. If they say they excel at public speaking, it might show they are outgoing or enjoy being in large groups of people.

What is on your bucket list?

This question may help you see if you have common interests with the person you're talking to. It can also tell you a person's goals and motivations and may reveal what they have not taken the initiative to yet do in their life. You might also ask why they haven't been able to complete the items on their list yet.

What's your greatest fear?

Many individuals have fears, but some people don't choose to talk about them. If you're in a trusted relationship, this question could open the door for you to explain your social anxiety.

Expressing your thoughts and feelings with each other may help you feel more comfortable, as it may show you that others have fears, too, even though they could be different than yours.

Would you rather walk or ride?

Someone who prefers to walk might be outdoorsy, health-conscious, or introspective. If you're trying to figure out whether you'd feel comfortable spending time with someone, this can be a helpful question to ask. For example, if you hate exercise, you may not want to be with someone who prefers to walk everywhere they go and go on lots of hikes.

Exercise and being in nature are both proven to improve mental health. If you enjoy spending time in nature, you might suggest a future hike or walk with someone who has similar interests. It may benefit your anxiety as well.

What does your perfect day look like?

The answer to what someone's perfect day may look like might show you whether you'd be compatible with someone as a friend or romantic partner. Learning how someone would spend their ideal day can show you their temperament, hobbies, and where they'd like to live.

If they'd spend their perfect day getting pampered at an expensive spa, but you'd have more fun spending the day enjoying nature, you might not be the most compatible.

While the ten questions listed above work in most situations, there are a few more that could strike up a good conversation including: 

  • What was your best vacation? 
  • What did you like about your first job? 
  • What is your go-to karaoke song? 
  • Do you have a go-to guilty pleasure? 
  • What is the most interesting thing you have seen? 
  • Do you have a favorite family tradition? 
  • What career advice would you give your younger self?
  • Do you have a favorite superhero?
  • What are your pet peeves?
  • What is your favorite season? 
  • What is your favorite board game?
  • What is your favorite holiday?
  • What do you think is the best Halloween costume?
  • What do you wish you could change about yourself?
  • Do you prefer watching TV or reading books? 
  • Do you have a perfect job? 
  • What one event is the craziest thing you have ever seen? 
  • What is your most prized possession? 
  • What is your favorite thing to eat? 
  • What is the worst gift you have ever received?
  • What is your favorite career highlight? 

How to manage symptoms of social anxiety disorder

If you've decided it's time to get support for your social anxiety disorder, there are several treatment avenues you might choose to pursue. Whatever treatment method you try, consider sticking with it.

It may take some time to get relief from your symptoms, but with support, treating social anxiety disorder is possible.

Use Natural Stress Reduction Techniques

Social anxiety disorder is more intense than everyday stress or nervousness. Still, natural methods that typically help ease symptoms of stress may help manage some people's social anxiety disorder symptoms.

Try making the practice of stress-reduction habits such as:

  • Regularly exercising
  • Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • Avoiding drinks that increase stress, including caffeine and alcohol
  • Getting at least eight hours of sleep a night
  • Performing relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga

Prepare for social situations

For many people, spending time practicing and preparing for social situations ahead of time can help reduce social anxiety in stress-inducing situations. Practicing conversation with trusted friends or family may help, as can engaging in small interactions with strangers.

For example, you may aim to show interest in a stranger, like a server or a cashier, once a week. You could also practice looking others in the eye when speaking to them.

Some people with social anxiety disorder may feel their mind goes blank when they enter new social situations. Preparing questions in advance to discuss with others in social situations can help ease anxiety. If you need to look at a list at first, you might write these down on a sticky note or in your personal device's notes app.

It’s possible to find freedom from social anxiety disorder

Seek treatment with a mental health professional

Many people with social anxiety disorder benefit from targeted treatment with a mental health professional, like a psychiatrist or a therapist. The two most common treatment options are medication and psychotherapy.

One specific type of psychotherapy, called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), is often performed for people living with social anxiety disorder. CBT may help you reframe your anxious thoughts and confront your underlying fears about social activities. Depending on your preference, CBT can be achieved with group or individual therapy.

Online Therapy For Social Anxiety

Research from the Journal of Anxiety Disorders shows that online therapy can effectively treat social anxiety disorder. Meeting with a supportive therapist online may help many people experiencing social anxiety disorder overcome their symptoms and experience greater satisfaction at work, school, and with their relationships. Because online therapy often doesn't require you to leave your home, it can increase your comfort when seeking treatment. You won't need to worry about finding the office, being late, or interacting with others in the waiting room.

For people with social anxiety disorder, interacting with an unfamiliar therapist for the first time can feel intimidating. Through online platforms like BetterHelp, you can take the first step of reaching out on your own time.


If you think you may have a social anxiety disorder, talking to a mental health professional may help you get the support you need to manage your symptoms effectively. Consider taking the first step by reaching out to a counselor.

Seeking to improve your mental health?
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet started