Does shyness get the better of you sometimes? You’re not alone.
Some people have an air of shyness about them. This can have knock-on effects; people may see you as someone who lacks confidence, a worrier, someone who doubts themselves or maybe even someone who’s not worth talking to.
Not a great start if you’re trying to impress.
Let’s be honest, when faced with a new or challenging situation, feelings of shyness can hit us all. But for some of us, these feelings take control. Worry and anxiety overtake our thought processes and everything else goes out of the window.
This can happen to anyone. Doing something when you don’t feel comfortable has a strange effect on our mind and body.
One of my students told me that she absolutely dreaded going to the school gates to pick up her son from school. She’s a naturally quiet person, she hates speaking in groups and finds meeting new people really challenging. She made excuses not to have to wait at the gate or would time her arrival just before the kids came out so she didn’t have to make conversation. The longer this went on, the worse the situation became.
She blamed her quiet character and shyness on her inability to make conversation with new people. However, some of the most confident people I know are quiet people. Her shyness was not due to her quiet nature, it was caused by her worrying.
She coped with her worries by trying to blot them out. She’d do her best to forget about it until it happened. That was her way of dealing with it.
Doing this will not help you when it comes to the crunch; when you have to do the thing you’re dreading. In this case it was going to the school gate and having to speak to other parents. But it could be a work event (meetings, presentations, interviews, networking …) or any kind of social situation (a date, a party, joining a club…)
To overcome your feelings of shyness you must face your fear. So how do you do this? How can you stop yourself looking and feeling like someone who wants the ground to open up and swallow them?
Firstly, you need to force yourself to think about the situation before it happens. Then you’ll need to think about how you want to be perceived. Accept that you’ll have to change your ‘natural’ behavior and be strong in your mind.
These six simple tips will help
Be very conscious of how you hold yourself. Stand with your shoulders back and chin up. You might think that hunching your shoulders will help you to hide. It won’t! So stand tall. Be proud. Walk calmly and don’t rush about.
2. Facial Expressions
Use your eye contact and your facial expressions to send the message that you are confident. Look around and take everything in. Smile when people look at you. Look at people directly when you’re talking to them.
3. Take the initiative
Introduce yourself to people before they make the first move. Prepare what you’re going to say beforehand. Visualize yourself making a great first impression. Try to see yourself from the other person’s point of view.
4. Remember names
Try to use peoples’ names during the conversation. This will make you look perceptive, confident and aware. You can set yourself apart as a confident person if you’re the only one to remember peoples’ names and use them.
This is a great way of stopping awkward silences. Just listen to what people are saying and use the conversation as subject matter. Don’t make the mistake of concentrating solely on what you are going to say next.
6. Get involved
Force yourself to speak to someone. Never sit waiting for someone to talk to you. Make a pact with yourself. Have some conversation starters up your sleeve and then get to listening (#5 tip).
If you do struggle with shyness, over the next few weeks, treat these 6 simple tips as your Shyness Plan. Pick the next situation that will challenge your shyness. Focus on it and apply the plan. Keep practising and slowly you’ll find a way of overcoming your shyness.
Feel free to use me as a sounding board. I’d love to hear how you’re getting on. Share your thoughts in the comments.
Mike McClement, Founder Think Confidence, Self-confidence Author and Coach. Passionate about helping people achieve their potential and enjoy life to the full. Writes about all aspects of self-improvement and self-esteem. Author of Brilliant Self-confidence. Visit his website at Think-Confidence.com