Shyness is not an uncommon trait— four out of ten people consider themselves shy. This can be a challenge in the business world. Most professions require some social skills and interacting with other people. However, just because you consider yourself shy now, does not mean that you always need to be that way; it can be overcome! Here are a few techniques that if applied regularly and accompanied with a desire to change, will help your shyness be a thing of the past.
When interacting with others, focus on them and their needs instead of your own. If you take opportunities to be kind and to serve people, they are more likely to be nice in return. Friendships often bloom through service. Kindness helps take away fear of others, so little by little, positive social experiences like these help relieve social anxiety.
Also, turning your attention outward automatically makes you think less about yourself and how others view you. You will feel less self-conscious when you truly focus on other people and their needs. Marla Tabaka explains,
Everyone’s heard the old adage, “fake it ’til you make it.” There is some truth to this—try pretending you are outgoing, and play the part of a social butterfly. Have good posture, look people in the eye, smile, and be friendly. Practice acting confident! The more you do, the more natural it will become, the more you will start to believe it’s true, and the more it will become part of who you are.
Let’s take this idea one step further. Think back to a confident moment from your past. Reflect on a time where you felt in control and top of the world. Take that shining moment and relive it now! Remember how you felt, and therapist Erika Hilliard says, “your body will be responsive.” This works even better than pretending. Try it!
Being outgoing and sociable doesn’t have to mean winging all your conversations and thinking of everything you say in the moment. If it makes you feel more comfortable, prepare beforehand! For example, if you’re going to a networking event, come up with a few ways to start conversations and some talking points. Get rid of the stress of winging everything.
Don’t create a label for yourself by telling people you are shy. You have many other wonderful traits that you should let people know you by instead. Keep your shyness a secret, especially if it’s something you’re trying to change. It can be tempting to use the excuse, “I’m shy,” so you don’t have to make more effort to talk to people, but if you ever want to overcome your shyness don’t give in to that scapegoat. It is hard enough to change people’s impression of you so don’t advertise that that’s who you are from the beginning.
Before anyone gets to know us, their first impression is formed by the way we look. Therefore, do what you can through your body language to look approachable! Keep your head up, make eye contact, stand tall, and look friendly! Avoid things like shrinking down in your chair, folding your arms, and putting headphones in. Those actions show disinterest in interacting with others.