If your words would carry the weight of a friendship or a career, you would ponder on the best ones to use before saying anything, am I right? It’s like uttering your last words before the world changes forever. To me, that almost describes the feeling a shy person gets when talking.
Some think that shyness means being distant or keeping to one’s self for some reason or another. The dictionary describes it as “being reserved or showing nervousness or timidity in the company of other people”, and that is also accurate.
Around us we see friends, colleagues, family members or strangers that create these barriers and they act as though they’re incompatible with the space that they’re in (especially around other people). To interact with such a person can be like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube. It takes time, understanding and kindness. You can’t just take the pieces out and put them in order. 😛
To be honest, I was a very shy during school: Not talking with many of my colleagues, shaking like a leaf when I had to talk in front of my class, feeling uncomfortable the more people were around and guilty just by asking for something from my teacher. I’ll be giving you the short version, things turned out better as soon as I started to experiment with this. I can’t say my experiences made me an expert in shy-ology but I do have some interesting insight regarding both sides.
How to talk with a shy person?
Simple, you don’t… well, not at first. The idea is to make your presence known in some way. Stand out by standing out of the crowd. If the shy person wants to be alone, act as if you’re not really there for them. It can make a big difference later on. Don’t over do it however, it might seem like stalking.
Ask simple questions that need a more elaborate answer. Don’t go for yes or no. “Fencing is my favorite hobby. What is yours?”, “If you could have a superpower, what would it be? I’d love to fly.”, “Do you think the snowball effect influenced history or art more?” If you got the “I don’t know” answer, that’s not the topic they’re interested in. It’s more of a Q&A. Meet the person, without the situation feeling strange or forced. You can even start with “I was thinking…”
Find the humor! The most important part of getting a shy person to trust you is making them laugh. They will think positively of you at your next meeting.
Keep your integrity during the conversation. There will be an urge to interact more or bring up things about yourself, but that can be the least interesting subject for a person that doesn’t feel comfortable with other people. Talk about the things you have in common or debate your ideas on other topics. Don’t make it all about them either, as they may feel “attacked” by too many personal questions.
Finally, keep it a small circle, at lest at the beginning. It must be only you and that shy person who form the connection before they can trust others to join the conversation. Mention others if it’s relevant, say funny stories about others, etc.
I am not saying this is the best method to interact with a shy person, just that it is a way you can get in touch without making them retreat. Being shy is a discomfort and is founded in uncertainty. The key is to find that middle ground so everyone can be comfortable.
How a shy person can talk with others?
Now this part is a bit tricky, since everyone reacts in different ways.
As mentioned, we are dealing with a barrier that was created in our mind. To take the first step, describe to yourself what it is that blocks you. Is it the fear of failure or judgment? Is it your indifference that cuts you out of the picture? For myself it was mostly the fear of doing the wrong thing. I was a perfectionist even on myself, so making mistakes was not something that my mind accepted. The aim is to name your blockade and work with it.
Second, share an idea. We must send something out there, so why not an opinion? Sure, that can distance some people even more but it also gives the chance for others to come closer. Find a person or a group that sees your ideas as interesting or new in a good way.
Also, Never force yourself out of your comfort zone if you aren’t in a good and safe environment. Make sure that the people you are with can accept your words and thoughts and limits.
And last but not least, one of the most important parts to work with your shyness: Love and respect yourself! It’s one of the most hardest things to do but it can offer the best feeling in the world when you get the hang of it. We are all brilliant in our own way, with flaws and imperfections. There is no point in letting them block us from enjoying ourselves in this world, which is also flawed and imperfect.
That pretty much covers it. Hopefully you will find a way to work with your shyness and make a new life for yourself. Also I hope this shed some light on how to approach a shy person. The more we connect with others, the more we are spreading the joys of being alive.
Have a brilliant day!