Overcoming Shyness is Not as Hard as you Think!
It may surprise you to learn that people who are more extrovert often find shyness in another person an attractive, refreshing quality. The same acute sensitivity that causes you problems can make you a good listener and sympathetic, which others appreciate. But let's look at how you can take FULL advantage of your heightened sensitivity.
When you are amongst people do you wonder how you appear to them and what others are thinking of you? Do you fear rejection, or that you are being judged or criticised? Shy people tend to get stuck in a loop of thinking that runs back and forth along these lines. Each circuit reinforces the idea that you are somehow lacking or just not good enough....
.... which leads to you feeling less able to cope in company. A good way of fighting shyness is to change the direction of your focus from inwards to outwards. In short, make the world outside of yourself, and the other person, the focus of your attention.
Make other people your focus
When you are in company ask yourself how you can serve this person:
- Be attentive to them: listen to what they are saying with your full attention
- Respect their opinion and viewpoint even if these are different to your own
- Empathise with their feelings
- Ask yourself how you may be helpful to this person
- Encourage, affirm, compliment them
Keep your focus pointed outwards and on the person you are talking to and you'll become so involved that you forget about yourself. Of course it takes practice, so rather than avoiding social situations, try to think of them as opportunities for being of service to others.
To help you keep attention, aim for soft eye contact at least for some of the time. Don't allow yourself to think about what the other person might see in you. Instead, appreciate what you are seeing in them.
See them as fellow human beings
When you are wrapped up in yourself and your inner feelings, it's easy to forget that the other person also has difficulty in some area of his or her life. It may, or may not be shyness, but there will be vulnerability somewhere. Holding this in mind will make it easier for you to see them as a fellow human being.
Like you, other people have physical blemishes, need to go to the toilet, have sex, and doubtless have some unattractive habit like picking their nose. Even someone you admire will not be immune from imperfections. You may see a person at work always crisply dressed and perfectly groomed but it's only an image. They too will awaken from sleep tousled, with a furry tongue!
Always keep a sense of perspective where other people are concerned. Everyone is on the same human level.
Talking about yourself
Some people love talking about themselves but if you are shy you probably recoil at the very idea of doing so yourself! In social settings it is sometimes possible to avoid it altogether but conversation can lack depth and interest if it is superficial small-talk or is one-sided.
If you are asked a personal question like "Do you like sport?" you could reply with a yes or no answer but that would be a conversational cul-de-sac. If you say "Yes, I love watching football. Arsenal is the team I support. And you?" you are giving a bit more, and the conversation is bounced back nicely by asking a new question.
If you had no interest in any sport you could say "No, I'm not very sporty, but I am keen on photography. What about you?". You can bat the conversation back at any time by asking a question and control the amount of sharing or talking you do in this way. Combining this with a real curiosity about what your companion's interests are keeps your focus in the right place.
Whatever you do, don't apologise for not being interested in the same things.
Shyness can be overcome and you already have the sensitivity needed for focussing on and appreciating the other person. The more you think about how you can be of service to that person in front of you, the more at ease you will feel.
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