10/04/2012 11:46 am ET Updated Dec 04, 2012

How to Fearlessly Pick Up a Man or a Woman

One of the most common issues I see from men and women in my practice is fear of approaching someone they are interested in asking out on a date. My practice is in Manhattan where there's a population of 1.5 million people. Given that, there are opportunities galore to meet people, one would think. Yet people aren't approaching others and they're missing out on date opportunities and potential love. In a city of more than one million inhabitants one might wonder why it is so hard to meet others. The answer: fear. People fear how the other person might perceive them, e.g., "Will she think I'm a dork?" People fear rejection, e.g., "What if he doesn't like me?" People fear they'll get tongue-tied or fumble their lines, e.g., "What if I say something stupid?" The bottom line: People are held hostage by their fears.

Here's how to break that fear pattern and get out there and approach that man or woman and ultimately your next love interest:

1. Think about any situation that involves approaching someone from here forward as an opportunity -- an opportunity to meet someone you feel excited about. Any tinge of anxiety is merely your bodies' response to the opportunity. The only difference between anxiety and excitement is made in your head and how you interpret physiological signals.

2. Go to a public place, such as a grocery store, busy park or a city street. Observe people and relax.

3. Lower your expectations and forget about meeting the next love of your life or even potential date.

4. Smile at people who you never would want to date, especially people you're not physically attracted to or who might be out of your desired age demographic. Notice how they respond. Smiles usually beget smiles. It's a natural instinct to return one.

5. Progress to a simple "hello" or asking for the time or directions. There are no expectations or pressure.

6. Grab a park bench and move that hello to something more. Try, "It's a beautiful day out here," or another line. Say something that may or may not require a response. This is about you gaining comfort with small talk. Don't worry about what the other person may or may not say back.

7. Now, engage in conversation. Ask open-ended questions such as, "How do you like the park?"

8. Next, choose a setting that provides opportunities to meet people. No, not a bar but rather a place such as a bookstore. Think about it: A bookstore provides an opportunity to talk about every topic under the sun from travel, business, cooking, sports, politics, religion, self-help, and much more. Potentially there's a conversation waiting to happen on a range of topics. Another possibility is to do something you enjoy. So if you are into running, join a running club. If you are into cooking, take a class. This ensures that you meet like-minded people in regard to interests and a conversation can more easily ensue.

For more by Jonathan Alpert, click here.