Do not be afraid of embarrassment, it won’t kill you. So what if you make a fool of yourself in front of the person you least wanted to make a fool of yourself in front of? It’s not the end of the World. The less you let it matter to you, the less it will matter to them. When you turn to walk away from speaking with someone who makes you nervous it is quite normal to trip over something that isn’t there; don’t worry about it.
Self consciousness can be so debilitating; it is apt to leave us lost for something to say, or send us in the complete opposite direction and cause us to spout forth a stream of meaningless rubbish. I tend to be lost for words when I am feeling self conscious, and only spout forth a stream of meaningless rubbish when I am writing. Just remember, no one deserves to be taken seriously. By all means pretend to take someone seriously if the consequences of not doing so would be to your disadvantage, but only pretend. Least of all take yourself seriously, that is unforgivable.
A well known strategy for coping with people you find intimidating is to imagine them naked. I do not find this helpful; throwing up over my boss’s shoes certainly did me no favours. I find that imagining them with a live fish in their pocket works best for me. If you have a vivid imagination and a particularly active fish is in their trouser pocket their ability to daunt you is bound to be significantly compromised.
The efficacy of this advice is only notional, I’m afraid; I have never managed to put any of it into practice myself, apart from the bit about the fish, which, in all honesty, I have only had limited success with. Still, if I could only pad these basic precepts out into a complete self help book I think it would sit quite nicely with all the others you can buy in any good book store.