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Ten Tips For Shy People To Meet Friends

Ten Tips For Shy People To Meet Friends

It can be hard work for shy people to meet friends. Shyness is a combination of genetics and upbringing and in its most severe form, it is referred to as a social phobia or social anxiety. Shy people tend to analyze more and their thinking style can hinder their progress. Here are ten top tips for reducing shyness and introducing more sociability into your life.

1. Visualise a Positive Outcome

Often, shy people are more afraid of the anticipation of meeting new friends than the event itself. Our thoughts can frighten us more than the reality and imagining making a fool of ourselves, being criticized or being rejected, make many of us fear social situations. Instead of imagining the worst,think of yourself going into a public place or a social event and see it going smoothly. Visualize yourself chatting easily to new friends and imagine the conversation flowing. This process of visualizing before the event is known as “priming.” Repetition allows the brain to process events quicker and when socializing, the experience will seem more familiar if you have visualized the event positively beforehand.

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2. Engage in Positive Self Talk

Be aware of negative self talk. Shy people tend to have more negative inner chatter than average. If you catch yourself saying something like “I am shy and no good in social settings. I always make a fool of myself” make sure that you challenge this. It is only a thought, NOT a fact. Ask yourself if your negative thought is really true.  More often than not you will be able to think of an example of a time when you felt less shy and coped well. Instead of negative self talk, replace it with something like: “I may feel shy and out of my comfort zone but I will handle it. I will deal with whatever comes my way.”

3. Get out of your comfort zone regularly

The only way to grow in confidence is to face your fears. The more you listen to your negative self talk and avoid social situations, the more the thoughts grow and take on a life of their own. Challenge this thinking, not only by replacing negative thoughts with more positive thoughts but also by confronting what you fear with action. Go out more in an attempt to confront your shyness. Take baby steps initially and perhaps meet a friend on a one-to-one basis. Gradually increase the amount of socializing and in this way, you will reduce your shyness. Join the gym, find a hobby that you enjoy, try internet dating or join a sports club. All of these activities will increase your social network. The more you have in common with the people around you, the easier it will be to interact and have conversations.

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4. Be inquisitive – people love to talk about themselves

Charismatic people tend to be those personality types that make others feel good about themselves. They are positive, open and are genuinely interested in those around them. When you are stuck for conversation, ask someone about themselves. Ask them questions to keep the conversation going. A few pauses in conversation is fine too. Try not to feel that all the pressure is on you to keep the conversation going either.

5. Focus on the person you are talking to

The reason for focusing on the person you are talking to is to take the focus off yourself. When we are shy and self conscious, we tend to worry about how we look and how we are presenting ourselves. When you place your attention on the other person, you automatically relax. Look at their body language, look our for signs that they might be shy or nervous too. This is a good trick and helps you to hone your social skills by focusing on the body language of others. The better you get at reading others, the more your confidence will grow.

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6. Take small steps initially

There is no need to rush ahead and start public speaking. Instead, take it slow and start small. If you jump ahead too quickly you might ‘bite off more than you can chew’ and this could backfire and result in you losing confidence. If you’re very shy, perhaps even going along to a public lecture would be a good start. This way, you are not forced to interact with anyone but you will be experiencing a social environment which will be useful in building confidence. Afterwards, progress to meeting someone for a coffee. If that goes well – progress to lunch and then dinner. Test your limits in phases and give yourself a pat on the back every time you socialize.

7. Be open and approachable

I like to call this being in “shop open” mode. By this I mean, if you had to think about walking past a row of shops – some with their windows and doors open and others with the shutters down. You would be more likely to completely ignore the shops that seemed closed and pay attention to the shops that seemed open and inviting. This reaction is similar to the social world as well.  People are drawn to others who seem welcoming and approachable. Think about the body language you are giving off in social settings. “Shop open” mode includes behaviors like: smiling, making eye contact, standing up straight and looking happy to converse. Often shy people tend to exhibit “closed shop” behavior without realizing it (ie. not making eye contact, hunched body language and so on). People then tend to ignore the shy person and this reinforces the shy person’s view of themselves. Hence a self fulfilling prophecy (refer back to point 2).

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8. Remind yourself regularly of your strengths

What are you good at? The harder it is for you to answer this question the more you need to think about it. People with higher self esteem tend to find this question easier to answer. Make a list and look at it every day if you have to. Focus on your strengths and minimie your weaknesses. It pays to adopt this attitude. Shy people tend to feel very self conscious when meeting new people and concentrating on your good points will help you to feel more confident and self assured.

9. Make a list of general topics of conversation

If you worry a lot about what to talk about when you’re out socializing, make a list of possible conversation topics. There’s always the safe subjects like the weather or current items on the news. Other good topics include – favorite movies, music and travel destinations. Ask about people’s hobbies and what they like to do to relax. Most people have a lot to say on this topic.

10. Worry less about what others think

I have left this point last as it is one of the most important aspects of fighting shyness. The more we worry about what others think, the more likely we are to be inhibited. If you live your life according to what others think, you are living your life for them instead of yourself. Remember that it is your life, you have to live with the consequences of your decisions and actions. The people who judge you don’t have to deal with the consequences. One of my favorite sayings is by Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Everyone is entitled to their opinion but don’t allow their opinion to be more important than your own.

Being shy is not necessarily a negative trait but it can be debilitating if left to grow without confronting it. We all need friends that we can connect with. Connecting with others is one of the most satisfying experiences we can have…and it’s free!

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Mandy Kloppers

Mandy is a Psychologist/CBT therapist who believes getting through life is easier with a robust sense of humour.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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