Shyness can affect how you feel, think and act in front of others. Research on shyness reports that almost half of adults are affected with normal shyness, and up to 15% with extreme shyness. Although you might think of yourself as being the only shy person amongst your friends, chances are that many more feel the same way inside.

Do you find yourself avoiding eye contact, laughing nervously or generally feeling out of place when around others? Thoughts like what or what not to say, whom to speak to, and what to do when things feel awkward can run at a thousand miles per hour inside your head. Remember, these are just some of the things that experiencing shyness typically results in. Knowing this will help you start to harness the true power that shyness can bring to your personal growth and relationships.

Silence is powerful

Giving other people full attention as you listen to what they have to say can have a tremendous impact on the conversation. Shy people often don’t say things just for the sake of talking. This makes them incredible listeners. By making others feel heard, they will feel able to confide in you and share more on a personal level. This encourages meaningful conversation and the chance to genuinely connect with others.

Being in this position also adds to your wealth of knowledge and understanding of this world. Take advantage of the chance to listen to others. This will only increase the thoughtfulness of your replies when you have something to add, making your impact all the more influential.

Harness your non-verbal language

Talking isn’t the only way to get a message across, or even to make friends. If the thought of conversation makes you feel nervous, use your non-verbal body language to show your concern instead. Think about being in a crowded room full of strangers talking. You would be much more likely to approach someone who smiles at you warmly, even if you didn’t feel like joining in.

Non-verbal language is the key to making others feel more welcome and relaxed. Sending a smile that conveys “hello” can make people warm to you as much as being the wittiest line of self-introduction. Remember that body language is contagious, and you can help others feel comfortable around you even without saying a word.

Help other shy people

We have all felt shy at some point in our lives. Not everyone will remember to use their experience for good. Shy people can often acutely remember the nervousness they feel in new social situations. If that is the case for you, look at your life and see if you can spot anyone else who may have just joined your workplace, school or social group. Think back to a time when you may have felt anxious about entering the new and unknown, and how any help to integrate would have been appreciated. Shyness is a great gift for bonding with other shy people, and a blessing to help those who may experience what you went through.

Document your journey

Introspection is second nature to those who experience shyness. It can be a double-edged sword, especially if you choose to focus on the negative self-talk that comes with being shy. However, using it to learn more about yourself and where you can take it from there in the future is an extremely effective tool for personal growth.

By using your shyness as a springboard to look ahead, rather than as a scapegoat for regrets in life, you maximize the opportunities to learn from what your inner voice is telling you. Feeling shy is simply the beginning, not the end. Telling yourself “I feel shy, now what?” can help to acknowledge the discomfort that arises from certain situations, and refocus your mind on what actually needs to be done. When you learn to grow from past experiences, shyness can be very empowering and help both yourself and others.

Featured photo credit: Woman’s Hand Reaching With Hope To Catch A Balloon Against Blue Sky by Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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