It’s tough when you find yourself in a conversation and, for whatever reason, you become paralyzed and unable to speak. Not through some mental hiccup or brain freeze, but because you are afraid – deeply, pathologically afraid – of how your conversation partner will perceive you. Ironically, this sort of involuntary shyness is a self-fulling prophesy, as the horrible perception you wish to avoid is the very thing you end up creating about yourself in the mind of the other person. It’s difficult to beat shyness, to encourage yourself to come out of your shell, but it is achievable. Here are some essential ways to deal with shyness in conversation and move toward a more open, extroverted you.
TRY TO MAINTAIN EYE CONTACT
One of the most obvious signs of extreme shyness is your inability (or unwillingness) to maintain eye contact with other people in conversation. This has a compounding effect, as it decreases your confidence in your own ability to successful partake in the conversation, prompting even less eye contact, and so on. Maintaining eye contact is a great way to connect with the other person and let you know that they are interested in you.
ATTEMPT TO CONTROL OBVIOUS MANIFESTATIONS OF SHYNESS
Some shy people suffer from very obvious outward signs of shyness, such as blushing, twitching, and fidgeting that, much like the eye contact point previously discussed, tend to sap your confidence and make meaningful conversation a near impossibility. Control these physical ticks as best you can and find little things to focus your mind on when trying to converse with others.
IF IT’S SERIOUS, ADMIT YOUR SHYNESS
If you feel that your shyness is getting in the way of a conversation you wish to have with someone, it is perfectly appropriate to let them know you are shy, and that you may be struggling. This is often better than letting the other person draw their own conclusions, which are often that you are arrogant and aloof, rather than merely shy. Confident people are okay with their weaknesses.
MAKE THE EFFORT, IGNORE THE OUTCOME
Shyness, especially at the adult conversation level, often develops through an odd psychological quirk where you think your efforts are abject failures if they go completely unreciprocated. For example, if you smile and nod at someone, and they do not respond in kind, a shy person is much more likely to castigate themselves for their own failure, whereas a more extroverted person is likely to (correctly) place that blame on the other person for not wishing to interact.