Hey, you’ll hear a lot of things like to “be yourself” and to just “treat them like everyone else”, but, as I’m sure you’re aware – it’s not that simple in practice.
Practically speaking, it’s impossible to just start treating them normally straight away. If you could do that, there’d be no problem, right? So, really, what needs to happen is you’ve got to identify what it is that actually makes you treat people differently.
For example, I find it a little easier to talk to women if I ‘pretend’ they have a boyfriend or something at first. That helps me not get hung up on trying to be attractive – and lets me see them a little more like an actual person rather than some sort of object.
Personally, I find the core problem of anxiety is that you’re really thinking about yourself. This has the consequence of meaning that you don’t really fully hear and understand what the other person says (because you’re busy freaking out), and as a result the conversation simply cannot go anywhere.
I can’t really speak as an authority on the matter, but I advise trying to focus as much as possible on listening and paying attention to what’s going on. You can use whatever techniques you like to help you – pretend they’re a dude, whatever. The point is, to hold a conversation, you should be actively trying to focus on the other person’s words – this has a convenient side effect of drawing your attention away from yourself.