“I never wish to offend, but I am so foolishly shy, that I often seem negligent, when I am only kept back by my natural awkwardness.”
– Jane Austen
Nearly half of all Americans claim to be shy. (Psychology Today) Some are so acutely shy that any social event or interaction is nothing less than an unscalable wall. If you are shy, know that there’s nothing wrong with you, even though it may seem that way. It’s now time to make a shift and consider shyness as a natural phase in your personal evolution.
Here are some points that have been proven successful. Hopefully, you will have success with these as well. In addition to the following strategies, you may find the C&S articles “Journey Overcoming Shyness” and “Practical Assertiveness” helpful.
12 Tips to Help Alleviate Shyness
1. – Lead with your strengths.
Where do you have proficiency or excel? Join a group or club that pertains to these interests. If it’s chess, join a Chess Club. Bird watching, join the local Ornithology Club. Biking, join a bicycle club. You will already have something in common with its members and a familiar dialog.
2. – Frequent local businesses.
Become a regular at your favorite restaurants, deli, coffee shop, liquor store, hardware store, gym, meditation class, church, mosque, or synagog, etc. These businesses want you to feel comfortable. They are eager to help and answer any questions. They want to know their customers.
You can utilize this advantage to develop light conversation skills. Ask questions about their products, their business. Ask the sales person if they’re from the area. Remember their names. Make eye contact and smile.
3. – Get involved with social media.
Often, it’s America’s preoccupation with social media that gets the blame for more and more young people becoming reclusive. But, for those suffering from acute shyness, this is a valuable tool to help learn to reach out and extend oneself. It’s a good way meet people in a noncommittal way.
Follow, follow, follow. Add comments on your favorite sites. It’s light, casual, and easy to walk away. Nothing too deep at all, but again; you’re learning to reach out and extend yourself.
4. – Develop new interests and hobbies.
Take a class. Join the company’s softball team. So, you stink at softball? Be the scorecard keeper, be a fan, bring the beer. It’s about having fun, not impressing anyone. Use these new endeavors to get in involved.
5. – Knowledge of sports, music, and art are perfect topics for conversation.
Anyone can acquire enough conversational knowledge in these areas within a short amount of time. You don’t need to be a know-it-all, just enough to converse, chat, or ask questions. Everyone wants to give their opinions; especially, New Yorkers! 😉
6. – Join local charitable organizations, PTAs, political campaigns, volunteer fire departments.
Newcomers are always welcome. Volunteer, volunteer!
7. – Refresh and update your personal style.
Buy some new apparel. Shine those shoes. Get a new hairstyle – go with class and sophistication. Yes, the winning look; whatever that means to you. Exercise. Lose weight. Start to feel great about yourself.
8. – Get a dog.
Dogs are a great ice breaker. As they greet each other, talk about each other’s dog. Ask how old it is? How much does it weigh? What do you feed it? Who’s your vet? Do you like him/her? Where did you get your dog? Etc. Dogs are a natural conversation starter.
9. – Take the time to say hello.
Greet people with a Smile. Say Good Morning. Please and thank you goes a long way. Compliments go a long way. The energy you put out comes back.
10. – Take small steps and have patience.
Be easy on yourself. Allow yourself to enjoy life. With enough perseverance and diligence, you will grow out of being shy.
11. – Take the pressure off.
In social settings, let the conversation come to you. Play off of what’s going on in the conversation and what’s going on around you. In other words, just let it flow freely and take its natural course. Relax. Silence is fine, also. It can recharge a conversation or be a pivot to a new topic.
12. – The best conversation starters are those that get people talking about themselves and their interests.
How did you hear about this event? How do you know each other? What’s going on with you now? What other interests do you have? These always work like a charm.
Often shy people are thoughtful, with the most to offer once they feel comfortable.
Remember, ending your shyness will be a process that takes time. Have patience. Making the effort and having small victories are what matter most. If you want to end your shyness, then you will prevail. Good luck.