How to Deal With Unfamiliar Situations: Essential Tips

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Unfamiliar situations are difficult. Can you relate? Read through these unfamiliar situation examples to learn some ways to deal with them. As a middle-aged, empty-nester I’ve had plenty of time to refine my skills with handling unfamiliar situations. Read on for some of the best strategies I’ve found.

A Scenario from a Creature-of-Habit Life

At my athletic club, I like to use the same shower, ride the same exercise bike, run on the same treadmill, you get the picture. So when my youngest son suggested that I try lifting weights, I was not exactly enthusiastic about giving it a try. I prefer to stick with the familiar, especially at the athletic club, where I like to blend in with the surroundings and draw as little attention to myself as possible. Unfamiliar situations are difficult for me. Can you relate? If so, read through these unfamiliar situation examples to learn some ways to deal with any unfamiliar situations that might arise.

how to deal with unfamiliar situations in a group

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Making the Decision

After going through the decision-making routine that I learned from the book Take the Risk, I knew I needed to give weightlifting a try, so as I approached this new challenge, I kept some ideas in mind that I hoped would help me along the way. These are the best tips I have to offer when learning how to deal with unfamiliar situations. Although I use my weightlifting experience to illustrate a few of the examples, these easy tips can apply to any situation.

My Usual Routine

Previously, before the weightlifting experiment, I had limited my exercises to the area known as the “Cardio Floor”. I had, with the help of my husband and a friend, mastered the use of the treadmill, the elliptical, and the rowing machine (see my related blog about dealing with a slowing metabolism). When I decided to add weightlifting, or strength training, to my routine, I had no idea where to begin. All of the weight equipment was located on an entirely different floor, known as (shocker) the “Weight Floor”. Wearing my trusty Brooks running shoes, I stepped out onto the Weight Floor for the first time.

Running shoes

The Intimidating Weight Floor

I had never ventured out onto the Weight Floor before, for two main reasons. First of all, everyone always looked very serious, made little eye contact, and generally remained silent. Second, I had no idea what to do with the equipment. That may seem unbelievable to you, but I had no idea how to adjust the amount of weight or resistance on anything. Should I pull? Push? Use my legs? Or my arms? Or both? Should I sit? Stand? I was clueless, so I employed the first of my ideas.

How to Deal With Unfamiliar Situations Tip 1

Ask for help from someone who will truly try to be helpful and not laugh. I found such a person in my husband. I knew he missed having our boys around to help with tasks that required extra muscle, so I think he was eager to help me develop some upper body strength. He showed me around, had me try each exercise he demonstrated, and didn’t make me feel like a hopeless case. Even when I had the “abs machine” (some weight room lingo there) set at the lowest setting and couldn’t complete a single crunch (more lingo), he remained patient and calm. After our instructional session, I felt ready to enter the Weight Floor on my own.

unfamiliar situations - weights

How to Deal With Unfamiliar Situations Tip 2

As I entered the weight floor, I reminded myself of my second tip when learning how to deal with unfamiliar situations. It was not all about me. Everyone else was so absorbed in their workout, no one had time to pay attention to my feeble efforts, so I just needed to smile and relax. I stuck to the routine my husband had demonstrated, thankful I had learned how to adjust the weight or resistance level to the lowest setting, and I worked away at it. No one ran around telling everyone that I was lifting the minimum weight possible or that I was using the lightest possible barbells. Of course not.

When I took the time to look around, I noticed that I was not the oldest person in the room, and some people were lifting weights despite obvious health issues that required the use of an oxygen tank or wheelchair. Well, that was humbling. I stopped worrying about what I might look like and just tried to improve a little each time.

unfamiliar situations - two pink weights

How to Deal With Unfamiliar Situations Tip 3

As I became more adept at using the different equipment, I kept my third idea in mind, which was: There were probably others who felt intimidated. I needed to look approachable and be ready to assist others if needed. Even though most people were silent and serious on the Weight Floor, that didn’t mean that I had to look unapproachable. I tried to go around with a pleasant expression on my face when I moved from one apparatus to another. I’m not sure if anyone else noticed, or if I would even be able to help anyone if they needed assistance, but it was worth a try.

unfamiliar situations - smiling face

How to Deal With Unfamiliar Situations Tip 4

This next strategy for dealing with unfamiliar situations has very little to do with the athletic club. It’s especially helpful in social situations. I’ve used it many times. It’s a little trick I use called “Be the host”. One example of how this works happened to me years ago when I was invited to a baby shower. I knew no one except the person having the baby. I offered to help the hostess in the kitchen, and she asked me to pass around the servings of cake. It was a wonderful way to meet the people I didn’t know, and I didn’t have to make awkward conversation. All I had to say was “Would you like some cake?” It worked like a charm. If you find yourself in an unfamiliar social situation, try this. If you do, let me know how it worked for you!

unfamiliar situations - pink cake slice

How to Deal With Unfamiliar Situations Tip 5

Dread those class reunions or group gatherings where you never seem to know what to do or say? Here’s an idea: volunteer to join the planning committee. Be a leader. Making small talk is a strain for me. Unfamiliar situations like class reunions were fun, but a bit stressful. I wanted to be able to branch out and talk to more than just my group of friends, but sometimes it was tough to know what to say. The solution? I asked to be part of the planning committee. This had a few fringe benefits. One was that I reconnected with a lot of people before the event. When the actual event rolled around, I already had things to talk about with many different people. I also had a purpose, whether it was taking tickets at the door or guiding people to the different event areas. I am definitely going to volunteer to help with the next one!

unfamiliar situations - teamwork

How to Deal With Unfamiliar Situations Tip 6

Not finding a group that meets your needs? Here’s something to try: Start your own group. I did this on Facebook when I needed to find people for a Pinterest support group. Pinterest has its ups and downs, and I wanted a way to grow in my Pinterest effectiveness. Many of the blogging support groups were huge, and most did not focus on Pinterest. What did I do? I started my own group called Blogging Well with Pinterest. I offered what I wished the other groups had offered to me, which included daily Pinterest share thread and tips.

unfamiliar situations - grey laptop

Whenever I learn something new about Pinterest, I share it with the group, and others do the same. It’s been a great help to me, and I hope it’s been valuable to others as well. Facebook groups are easy to start. If you are worried about the amount of time it might take, send me a message and I’ll share with you how I work it into my full-time work schedule. It’s very manageable. If you are interested in checking it out, here’s an easy way to get there:

Visit Blogging Well with Pinterest!

Has This Helped You Learn How to Deal With Unfamiliar Situations?

I have now been lifting weights (on and off) for a couple of years, and I can truly see the benefits. Believe it or not, as a school librarian, I actually do need to cart around boxes of books, and weightlifting has helped make the task easier. I’m so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and gave weightlifting a try. How about you? Do you have special strategies for facing unfamiliar situations? What has been the most helpful to you? I’d sure appreciate it if you took the time to share your thoughts with us.

More Inspiration

Were these unfamiliar situation examples and strategies helpful? Whatever you are dealing with, I find that it is helpful to have a plan. This undated, printable, cheery sunflower planner might be just what you need to get your plan in place. It has a page for each month, along with notes pages. If a planner notebook seems like a good idea to you, good news! You can get it here!

sunflower garden planner printable

Get the planner notebook!

Have a wonderful week, and may you have success when facing unfamiliar situations!

First Name Signature Conclusion




Lisa Mitchell is a wife, mom, and school librarian who likes to grow fruit, vegetables, and flowers on her family’s small Pacific Northwest farm. To learn more about what this website has to offer gardeners, click on over to the Garden page.

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4 thoughts on “How to Deal With Unfamiliar Situations: Essential Tips”

  1. I too am a creature of habit and don’t like new situations. Very good tips and I’m glad you started the FB group. Thanks.

    • I love our FB group! We creatures of habit need to stick together.=)

  2. This was an amazingly, helpful read! So many good tips to get through those awkward situations. I can relate to all of them. The gym is so intimating but your approach is spot on. The weight area– the scariest! From my high school reunion to helping the host, I’ve used the same moves to find a comfortable place in these events. Think I’m an introvert? Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone 😃

    • You are definitely not alone! Thanks so much for the affirmation. I’m glad to know these ideas have worked well for you!


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