Shyness is an interesting emotion we often get from childhood, but sometimes, it stays with us to a certain degree. It might be as subtle as not ever being the one who starts a conversation, or it could be much worse, to the point of closing oneself off from society.
Being confident, and showing that you are, can be difficult when you are shy, because shyness often causes social anxiety and a constant worrying about what others think.
When it’s difficult to start conversations, approach potential customers, sell products or services, attend social events, or connect with like-minded individuals, the opportunities of life are difficult if not impossible to achieve. It can often go unnoticed, so it’s a good idea to take a look to see if you’re sabotaging yourself just to be sure. If you’re not, fine. But if you are, this article shares 5 effective ways to overcome shyness!
Overcoming shyness will help you realize that people who wouldn’t be interested in what you have to say, actually are, and any concern you may have in your mind just might not even exist in reality.
If you’re in the habit of thinking that people are staring or laughing at you, or “Why isn’t anyone interested in starting a conversation with me?” whenever you’re around people at a gathering, recognize that this way of seeing others in how they think about you is a result of living too much in your head. These are your considerations, not theirs.
Of course, you need to see this for yourself. I’m not here to evaluate for you. Your reality is yours. I’m only telling you this so you can start to take a different look, a different approach to interacting with people.
Shyness often leads to negative thought patterns and influences us to assume the worst when it comes to socializing. Nonetheless, it can be overcome. It just takes a little practice and self-awareness.
Overcoming shyness will help you communicate better with others, make conversations more enjoyable, and give you the confidence to say what you’re thinking (within reason), stand for what you believe in, enjoy working with others, and connect with people who inspire you.
Here are 6 things you can start doing today…
6 Effective Ways to Overcome Shyness
- Practice Confidence
One of the cleverest ways of overcoming shyness is by practicing and acting confident, because everything is mastered through repetition. Rehearse in front of a mirror every day, and always act confident around other people. Practice how you are going to look, stand and talk when you meet or run into someone.
Don’t overact; positioning, expressions and motions are very subtle—straightening your back slightly, lifting your head a bit so you’re looking straight ahead instead of angled towards the ground. Remember to watch your posture, maintain eye contact, and be present during conversations. The more you do this, the more comfortable it will all become.
- Start the Ball Rolling
Shy people often find it extremely difficult to start conversations or keep them going. Overcome shyness by opening the communication. You could look for something to compliment the person with. Maybe it’s their hair or shoes … it really doesn’t matter. A compliment goes a very long way in making others feel really good! This is a game-changer for you.
Realize that you can begin by initiating a conversation with at least one person a day and increase from there as you see fit. A simple “Hi, how are you today?” or “It’s a beautiful day today,” are great icebreakers.
No matter how nervous you are, make it a goal to talk to at least one person a day. You can start out choosing someone who is smiling or who looks very friendly. Whatever makes it easier to start. If you have to, you can start with people you know, but your goal should be to work over to people you’ve never spoken to before.
- Don’t Self-Criticize
“I’m not good at socializing,” or “No one is interested in what I have to say,” and “What if they laugh at me?” among countless others are self inflicted negativity to avoid if you are to overcome shyness.
Living in your head and thinking that others might respond or react in an undesirable way is one of the main reasons for shyness and social anxiety. Stop worrying about how others may respond. Replace those negative thoughts with an attitude like: “They’re probably thinking what I’m thinking,” and “It’s okay if they don’t agree with me,” and “What’s the worst that could happen?” … and take an interest in getting to know others more.
- Become Interested in What Others Have to Say
When you don’t show a sincere interest in what another person is saying, it leaves them assuming you are not interested in socializing or hearing them out. It comes off as rude because, well, it is.
It can cause certain individuals to not like you. Minimally, they will lose interest in you and what you have to say.
It’s understandable that shyness can make it difficult to socialize, but learn to control and overcome it by showing an interest in others.
If you don’t know how to keep conversations going, be inquisitive. Ask follow-up questions or make positive remarks to show that you are present: “That’s interesting,” “How did that turn out?” “That’s the way to go.”
You can also repeat back to them, in fewer words, what they just said. It can often be as a question, which automatically continues the conversation, shows you’re listening and that you understand them. For instance, “So, you like him but aren’t sure if he likes you?”
And there are excellent questions that will impress people, because they help them to take a better look at the situation. As an example, you might ask, if it’s appropriate, “What did you learn from that?” or “How could you change that?” or “What do you think you should do?”
- Be Prepared
Nothing beats preparation. Shyness can also be overcome by being prepared. Having a plan and knowing what to do or say when this or that happens is powerful.
The next time you are invited to a social gathering and anxious about small talk or feeling awkward, search for interesting topics that everyone is talking about and engage in those. It could be current events or the latest news on an issue that’s affecting everyone in your region or globally.
Preparing in advance by having the right information in hand can boost your self-confidence and inspire you to strike a conversation or join existing ones.
- Don’t be Bent on Having Others Agree With You
If everybody thought the same, life would be very boring. Embrace the views of others, and don’t be bent on having everyone agree with you. That’s sort of being a slave to the considerations of others.
If you let people have their views, and you have yours too, you won’t worry so much about saying what you think or feel. And when some disagree, just see it as an opportunity to see another’s point of view. You’ll be surprised at just how much they will appreciate you!
Overcoming shyness doesn’t happen overnight. If it feels impossible at first, don’t fret; you’ll eventually be more comfortable. All you need to do is focus on doing the best you can to overcome it and practice until it becomes second nature.
Start initiating conversations, show an interest in others, be present when interacting with others, control your thoughts, stop assuming the worst, and always think, “Things aren’t as bad as I think they are.”