You may feel quite confident in areas of your life, however you know that you need to work on your shyness. Unfortunately, shy people are unfairly labeled as appearing unconfident and unfriendly. While this is untrue in most cases, it can be worth the effort to work on reducing shyness. Doing so can open up new opportunities that may not have been possible otherwise in your work, personal, and social life.
Here are some tips to reduce shyness:
* Show concern for others
Shyness often results from worrying what others will think of you, and how they will respond to you. Instead, you need to change your focus from inward thoughts to the outside world.
In truth, everyone is struggling with something. That grouchy cashier at Woolworths may have just learned that her husband has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. When you take your eyes off yourself, your own insecurities and problems, and instead think about how you can help others by showing compassion, your shyness can melt away.
* Talk to others
Just begin by making eye contact and saying something as simple as “Hello,” or “Good morning” to people you already know (your work colleagues, your bus driver, etc.). You will be surprised at how many people will respond positively. They will also see you as more open, and more approachable.
Contrast this with the person who walks by you in the hallway, avoids eye contact, and says nothing. This person may very well be shy, but also does not appear very friendly or approachable (although the latter may not be true at all).
* Practice regularly
To build on the above point, practice talking to other people all the time. Begin by talking to people you know. Ask people more questions about themselves. Ask them open-ended questions so that they have to give you more information. This is in contrast to a close-ended question, which results in a simple “yes” or “no” answer. “Do you like this movie?” is an example of a close-ended question, whereas “What do you like about this movie?” is an example of an open-ended question.
As you get comfortable speaking to people you know, practice on people that you do not know. If you are in the shampoo aisle at your local grocery store, and are having a difficult time choosing a product, consider asking the shopper standing next to you for her opinion.
* Remember that strangers are friends that you have not met yet
Every great friendship starts with a stranger. Consider where some of your friendships have come from. It takes some courage to make a new friend, which means opening up to new people.
* Stop expecting perfection
Rather than fixating on “What could go wrong,” instead change your thinking to “So what if something goes wrong? I can deal with it.”
No one is perfect. When you accept that you may blunder when doing something that is out of your comfort zone, your feelings of shyness are not going to hold you back. Ask yourself what is the worst thing that can happen if things do not go the way you expect them to.