Overcome Shyness With These Four Tips
Many people want to overcome shyness. When we were young, being shy might have been considered sweet or cute. For some people, continuing to deal with shyness as an adult has morphed into feeling awkward in social situations. And that’s not cute. If your shyness is preventing you from enjoying life, you can discover and cultivate inner confidence. With a little patience and practice, you can finally conquer shyness and feel more confident in every situation.
By following the steps below, you can overcome your shyness in a gradual, healthy way:
Start by attending social situations that don't create a lot of anxiety and require much effort from you. Events like poetry readings, book signings, or concerts work well. Once you're comfortable being in a crowded environment, you can move to more intimate settings that will require more direct input. If it's been a while since you've interacted with more than two people at once, it may feel overwhelming to go to a party where there will be dozens of guests.
Practice often so that new behaviors become second nature. When you're home alone, stand in front of a mirror and pretend that you're engaging in small talk at a cocktail party. (Side benefit, you may remember the silly feeling when you are at the actual party and feel more relaxed.) Do this frequently, and you'll find that conversation comes much more easily.
focus on Others
If you feel uncomfortable approaching a stranger, that's understandable. Many people feel shy doing this. If someone starts a conversation with you, focus the conversation on him or her. Ask questions about their life, and keep them talking until you find common ground.
Tap into Your Self Confidence
When you feel good about yourself, being around others is more fun. When you're feeling secure, you actually enjoy sharing your opinion because you know that you have something valuable to contribute to the conversation.
Occasionally, you may feel a little social anxiety or trepidation. And you may feel this more often if you’re attending an event where you don’t know that many people or if it’s a business function and you didn’t choose to spend time with those particular people. But you do have the power to overcome your shyness. And you deserve to discover your inner confidence and experience life without reservation.
Have you ever struggled with shyness? How did you overcome it? Help others by sharing your tips in the comment box below.
Allegra, having grown up shy most of my childhood because we moved so often, I know the pain of being so shy that others considered me to be standoffish instead. Because of that perspective, others wouldn’t want to be around the “real” me. It took a real friend to explain the difference to me, helped me to realize that by not interacting with others, those others think its because you don’t WANT to! Go figure, but thanks for the journey down the past, I know these pointers will help others get through some painful situations.
Join the club! Aidan and I moved a lot also. That is an interesting coincidence. And you added a great insight! People may mistake shyness for being aloof. Since I’m naturally introverted I assume that many people are also. That’s a great reminder, not to make assumptions about people but to take the time to get to know them without judgment.
Have a POWERFUL week! Allegra
Thank you for this thoughtful and informative article! You’ve done an excellent job of identifying the characteristics of shyness – this is so very important because many people who do not feel comfortable in public situations are actually introverts, and that is something all together different. The best analogy I’ve seen is that if you see two people at a party off in a corner – the shy person is there because he/she really wants to be part of the group but is too insecure to make the first move – where as the introvert chooses not to participate and is actually quite content observing.
Hi Allegra, I am many things but shy is not one of them LOL. However, I do recognize that your advice is good advice to those who are shy. May I add another suggestion albeit it one that might sound silly but really isn’t? If someone is shy, they will more than likely experience anxiety in social situations, right? To get past that anxiety, what if one were to imagine everyone in the room in a social situation in their underwear? Might that help them get beyond that anxiety and relax a little? 🙂
Hi Julie –
Thank you for putting everyone in the room in their underwear! When I was younger, people used to tell me to imagine everyone in the room was naked. Can you imagine? That was NOT helpful! I don’t think your suggestion was silly, you would be surprised what can work.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Allegra
Great post! It is so much easier when in a group of one-on-one with people that you naturally connect with. So I believe you are saying is to ask questions until you find a way to make that connection. This is great. Did you ever try to have a conversation with a person that answered your question, but had nothing else to say? That one is really tough. I especially remember a situation like this, and it was years ago. The person I was trying to communicate with just was not communicating back. So after a while, I just gave up. She is a nice person, she just did not have anything to say to me, I guess.
Anyway, good information to think about! Thanks!
Yes, I can remember trying to start up a conversation with someone and I was doing all the work as you described. I did the same thing you did. I made a couple of sincere attempts to engage them and then politely moved on. I can’t expect to connect with EVERYONE, right?
Have a great week! Allegra
I have often struggled with shyness.
The one I find most helpful of those you’ve mentioned, is to focus on others. Focusing on others is to go outside of myself and look outward. Shyness is an inward thing, and is often based on FEAR… which we all know stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. People aren’t watching us nearly as much as we think they are. They are more concerned with what WE think of THEM.
That’s what I’m told… and it helps me to believe it. 🙂
I don’t consider myself to be a shy person, but I find myself not as involved with people as I could be.
Being shy can be a deep rooted issue involving great introspection to get at the true core. I mostly happens from an outside influence or life altering occurrence at a young age. Humans tend to make up stories and then believe them as the truth.
Everyone has some shyness within them. It’s a matter of believing in oneself to breakthrough the barrier. Not always so easy to do.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think it might be easier to believe in ourselves if we pick one thing to really like and believe first. That helps us get over the shyness and can lead to us then believing other good things about ourselves. Then it can really start to roll.
Take care, Allegra
Wish I had this post years ago. I was that shy skinny kid. It was cute when you’re little, but as you grow up it really gets in the way. As a member of a Presbyterian Church our new minister kept asking my to do the children’s message during church. I had been teaching Sunday School, I guess he thought I could get in front of the congregation too!! Well the first few times were hard, but soon I really enjoyed it. That also lead to some preaching and committees. Soon I was able to talk and interact most anywhere.
Have a Great Day
What a bold pastor! I am going to assume he saw something or had your permission to keep pushing you? I used to be my church organist (at a very young age) so people assumed I would be more outgoing. Nope. I could hardly bring myself to speak during choir rehearsals. But we muddled through. And when I finally started talking they could hardly hush me up!
Be well, Allegra
Overcoming shyness does seem impossible when you suffer from it, but I for one can definitely say that it can be done! I was so horribly shy when I was in school and suffered because of it. It was hard to make friends, unbearable to speak in front of the class, and miserable when it came to social situations.
Unfortunately it wasn’t until after I graduated before I started to come out of my shell. The tips you provided in your post are wonderful. I’m sure if someone who is shy puts their best effort forward with those techniques, they will have an easier time breaking free from what can be a paralyzing problem.
I no longer suffer from shyness at all, and that is such a wonderful thing!
Hi Allegra. These are great tips. I have struggled with shyness all my life. I’ve overcome it in some ways, like performing or public speaking, but shake in my boots in other ways, like social functions. Next time I have a social function to attend, I’ll have to try these exercises before I go. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Wishing you a song in your heart,
Miss Leslie @ Music with Miss Leslie.com
Hi Allegra, I came across this post and it really resonated with me. As a child I was painfully shy. There was always this extrovert person inside of me (my dad’s personality!) that wanted to jump out but the more cautious me (my mum!) always said ‘no, wait until you’re asked, it’s not your turn’ or ‘other people will think you are stupid’.
I overcame it by watching and copying what my dad did, thaking baby steps as you suggest above. I noticed that when my dad met people, he always asked about them and turned the conversation to them, exactly as you suggest above. He had a great knack of making people feel ‘special’. Funny thing is, even now, if I am the one starting a conversation, I often find my dad’s stock phrases – the ones I learned – are the ones that just spill out of my mouth unaided!
Some great advice here for people on ‘unleashing the giant within’ 🙂
Isn’t it interesting how many of us were painfully shy as children? And there also seems to be a theme that we grew out of it with the help of a mentor or coach (sometimes a parent, sometimes not). It sounds like your dad really had a gift of developing others-focused relationships.
Thanks for sharing, Allegra
To overcome things that we are feeling are hindering us. We need to PLACE ourselves in as MANY situations as possible that will require us to utilize what we are not comfortable with. The more we step out of our comfort zone, the more confident we will be to stay out of it and continue stepping.
I also did not come out of my shell until near the end of high school, I wish I had much sooner! It is so easy!
Great post Allegra
Knowledge is POWER
Hello Allegra, I used to be very shy at school, I loved the “learning” part of school, but didn’t like the social interaction. I had a few close friends, but when it came to mixing in a different group, I didn’t like it.
I’m not sure how I got over it – I think being in a work environment caused me to get over it. My first job was in Nursing, and of course, as a Nurse, if you don’t talk to the patients, you don’t have a job at all:-)
You did a great job with your suggestions, Allegra, I think they will help a shy person to be more outgoing. Regards from Julieanne
You’ve tapped into a very important area for many people. Some people have special conditions such as Aspergers and autism spectrum, which can make it very difficult to understand other’s social expressions, cues, and intents. However, with the proper coaching from the appropriate professional, they can make a lot of progress.
Others need support and insight to challenge faulty beliefs that may have been formed when growing up with painful experiences.
These are some great tips for all of us!
Allegra, You have given some great tips for overcoming shyness. One thing that helps me in many situations where I am not comfortable, is self talk. If one is shy, they can create a self talk that they repeat. Say it how you want to be. Such as: “I enjoy interacting with people. I am well liked. People enjoy being in my presence. I find it very comfortable to get to know people. I look forward to meeting new people. I love parties!”
You can craft your own self talk that suits you best.
Have a wonderful day!
I was also shy as a child. I was always the new boy at school as I moved about a lot when I was young. I can resonate with what you say.
Fortunately now I have came out of my shell more. I have learnt to step outside my comfort zone and this has made me develop as a person for life skills and business networking.
Great post, I hope this inspires the readers.
I moved a lot too! My father worked at a company that moved many of its employees every 18-24 months. I can’t imagine doing that now but as a child I didn’t know anything different. I think all that chaos prepared me to deal with lots of life changes. But it also made me very introspective.
Thanks for joining the conversation, Allegra
Although I was raised in a homw with women, my mom and 7 sisters, no brothers. Yet with all those women around I, for a very long time, was shy around the ladies. All I knew how to play it off, but inside I was screaming. As time went on, I knew as much as I liked the opposite sex, I had to overcome that shyness. So through prayer and jsut being myself I did.
Being shy can cause one to be very lonely in life. I know with all the social media stuff going on now days, it would seem like many shy people can hide behind their computer and feel safe. but I dare say, you still need that human contact.
I like how you put it, focus on others. I’d venture to say, shyness in a way, is a form of selfishness, because in shyness, you have made everything about you. Best thing you could do if you are dealing with shyness is, as best you can, get some help, get over it and enjoy life, whiles you can.
Oooooo. Shyness is a form of selfishness? That is deep! Maybe you were shy growing up because with all those women in the house you couldn’t get a word in edgewise. My sister didn’t talk when she was young and we all thought she had a speech impediment. It turned out she didn’t talk because whenever she needed something I jumped in and did all the talking for her. Oops. Guess I wasn’t shy then.
Take good care and thanks for adding to the conversation. Allegra
Allegra, nice topic you wrote. I had shyness as you said and by using some of your tactics I overcame that problem. I was about 12 or 14 years old at that time , since than I never had this problem. But a lot of people will have a great tool when they read about your input.
Thank you and cheers…Mario…
Thanks for stopping by. And I’m glad that you were able to put shyness behind you. I still have shy moments and shy days but they happen less and less often.
Take care, Allegra
Great post and terrific tips. Being shy can really feel like an insurmountable problem and really can thwart one’s future. As several have already commented, I think it does take practice and you are right on, that it helps to take small steps at first. But you also have to really WANT to make that change as it can be not only daunting but mentally and emotionally exhausting for the extremely shy…and who wants that? Thanks for sharing your wisdom.
Thanks, Linnea! And Happy Birthday!
I think you are right. You have to REALLY want to make any change to be successful in doing so. Whether you are trying to become less shy or taking on any task which may seem insurmountable. The level of motivation we have is likely to have a BIG impact on us reaching the goal.
Have a powerful week! Allegra
Hi Allegra, awesome BlogPost and I find it excellent that you tackle this issue. I can describe myself more an introvert person then an extrovert who appears outgoing all the time. But I recognised this early in my business development and started working on it. What helped me most were to attend seminars in my local area and so get to know people where you have to open your mouth and need to start talking… Hope this contribution allows the reader who is affected with shyness to overcome this ‘fear’ and move beyond his/her limitations. All the best, Alex
Thanks for stopping by. I love your idea about attending local seminars that required you to talk. That’s an interesting tactic to overcome shyness. Were they Toastmasters meetings?
Have a POWERFUL week! Allegra
Hi Allegra, no it wasn’t Toastmasters but that’s something I really want to take part in once I finalized the transition from employee to business owner… This has so much benefits! In the past I made experiences and took the challenges of local business seminars held by organisations like banks and small business building communities. It was realy a great opportunity to meet a such diverse group of people to interact with… Can only suggest to anyone… Look forward to stop by soon again. All the best… Alex
As someone who was VERY shy in school I can vouch for at least 3 of your tips.
I started to focus on who I know I am
I went to situations that would force me to interact with other people
and I started to make contributions to conversations when I knew I was right.
And then I also found that having a cocktail or a beer was a great help in the beginning 🙂
Never tried the mirror thing – just feels too weird talking to a mirror.
Nice post overall
Looking forward to the next one
You made me laugh out loud with your cocktail comment! I did not suggest that, did I? You could always practice without the mirror….
Have a POWERFUL week! Allegra