Shy Person's Guide

The Shy Person’s Guide to Talking to Strangers

One of the easiest ways to improve your networking ability and invigorate your social life is to develop the skill of talking to strangers.

We’re trained as children to fear strangers (which is good for safety reasons) but most people carry this fear into adulthood where it does more harm than good. It becomes a constraint on the number of people you can meet and interact with. You get stuck in a box, only open to creating new relationships through people you already know.

If you already know a lot of people, this can work all right, but it limits you to meeting people who are generally like you. If you are new to an area and don’t have many friends, the fear of talking to strangers is absolutely crippling.

Fortunately, developing the skill of talking to strangers is easy. Once you get started the immense benefits and excitement it brings will encourage you to keep going.

It comes down to three things:

  1. Understanding the benefits of talking to strangers.
  2. Knowing how to deal with the occasional rejection or unpleasant encounter.
  3. Breaking down your fear through practice.

Everyone is a Learning Experience

To get an idea of the benefits of talking to strangers, you need to change your mentality. As tribal creatures, we’re naturally inclined to fear, nay hate, people we don’t know. We instinctually perceive them as dangerous outsiders, seeking to pillage our village and make off with our women and children!

In modern society this simply isn’t true. Most people are friendly and perfectly open to conversing with you. It just takes a little effort to cross the stranger barrier. Each person is an incredible learning opportunity. What they tell you about themselves. How they live and interact with the world. There is a wealth information waiting to be tapped.

Strangers also tell you a tremendous amount about yourself by the way they react to you. As you gain experience and learn to read body language, these reactions are essential to developing your social skills. Of course, there are also the priceless relationships you’ll have the chance to form:

  • Business contacts – Who you know (and what they think of you) is often more important than what’s on your resume.
  • Friendships
  • Mentors and teachers
  • Romantic relationships

I think the last point is extremely important. We all dream of meeting our ideal mate, but when we see someone we’re extremely attracted to, we’re usually too intimidated to approach them. How can you expect to find love with that mentality?

Dealing with Rudeness and Rejection

Now that you’re sold on the benefits of talking to strangers, the only other skill you’ll need is the ability to let rejection roll off your back. The key to this is not taking it personally.

At least 95% of the time when a person reacts negatively to you it has absolutely nothing to do with you personally. Most likely they’re having a bad day or you caught them at the wrong moment. Maybe they’ve been harassed by people before and assume you have bad intentions. Or maybe they’re just not that cool and you wouldn’t gain much from knowing them anyways.

Instead of reliving the incident in your mind and dwelling on your insecurities, imagine reasons for their behavior that don’t depend on you. In the 5% of cases where you actually caused the negative reaction, treat it as a learning experience. The problem isn’t you, it’s your behavior, so examine what you could have done better. Did you come off pushy? Could your personal appearance be better? Thinking about these things will go a long way towards improving yourself.

How to Get Started

That hardest part of talking to strangers is getting started. Before you have experience striking up conversations it can make you nervous and awkward, but the more you do it the smoother and more likeable you’ll become.

Start Small - If you’re a naturally reserved person, you’ll probably want to warm up a bit. Start with making eye contact with people you might like to talk to, smiling at them, or saying Hi out of the blue. Think of possible conversation starters you could say.

Comment on Something – If you see something remarkable, make a comment. Even if it’s not at anyone directly, chances are people will hear and react to you. If you see someone doing or wearing something interesting, tell them what you think. Keep it positive and most likely they will be happy to chat.

Make a Joke - If a decent joke pops into your head, just come out and say it. If someone laughs, that’s the perfect conversation starter. This is great for opening dialogue with attractive people of the opposite sex.

That’s really all there is to it. Good luck and don’t get discouraged. You have nothing to lose but your shyness!

Update: Due to reader request, I’ve written a post with some more practical tips on appearing friendly and approachable.

Confidence is the key to EVERYTHING. Ever wondered exactly how self confident you actually are?

 

 

Image by Sukanto Debnath

  • http://kittensandexistentialism.tumblr.com/ Stanley Stephen

    This was a great post. I often have had anxieties with this type of thing. I am also an introverted person and love my alone time so that makes it more difficult. Yet, I do know how important and how good it can feel to connect with someone new. It’s amazing, just try it.

    • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

      Thanks, Stanley. Glad you like it. I agree that the best part is how good it makes you feel to connect with someone new.

    • neharika

      i know it feels great to connect with someone but it is very tough as well.

  • http://galvanizd.blogspot.com Will is GALVANIZD

    Great post to encourage the introverted to get out of their shells in interacting and connecting with anyone and everyone :)

    What I feel that’s lacking in this article is a little bit more guidance and structure. Having been extremely inadequate around social situations, I had taken on social coaching. Had I not been given a “road map” so-to-speak, I’d be floundering. By and large, the “How to get started” general recommendations are GREAT, BUT what about becoming effective and making it an everyday habit?

    In any case, great post.. I think I might add to this article on my own :)

    • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

      Will,

      I agree with you that there could have been more specific guidance, but I think that’s a whole post in itself. I think, no matter how well you explain something to someone, they won’t really get it until they get out and experience for themselves.

    • Chris

      Hi Will,

      I too have had social coaching. Here is one of the exercises I had. Basically you’re practicing getting people to open up to you in random situations. In this exercise you’re trying to get a movie suggestion. It sounds silly but it’s great practice. Here’s how to do it:

      1.) Pull out a phone book
      2.) Open to a random page and call any of the numbers
      3.) Say something to the effect of the following:
      you: “Hi is Jennifer there?” (any name will do)
      them: “No, I’m sorry you must have the wrong number”
      you: “Oh I’m so sorry. Jeez, this is the number he/she gave me and we were supposed to meet at a movie”
      them: “ok…”
      you: “While I have you on the phone, I was wondering if you could suggest a movie for me” yada yada yada…
      4.) Repeat. Try and get 5 people to suggest a movie to you.

      Some people are going to hang up on you, some people will be absolutely perplexed, but some people are really warm. It’s a great way to practice things that do and don’t work with intonation and getting over your fear without being in someone’s presence. You won’t get in trouble because it’s not a prank call, it’s just a fake wrong number. Simple! I’m sure some people will say it’s a crazy idea (it really is), but it helped me. Give it a try, what do you have to lose?

      • http://galvanizd.blogspot.com Will is GALVANIZD

        Hey Chris,

        Haha, sounds VERY familiar. I believe we were trained under the same school.

      • LouLou

        Or you could try working in a call center and get paid to do practically the same thing …

    • http://lazyvegan.wordpress.com/ xen

      What’s wrong being an introvert?

      http://briankim.net/blog/2007/10/top-5-things-every-extrovert-should-know-about-introverts/

      Respecting people for who they are is far more important than overcoming shyness or “coming out of your shell”.

      • Megan

        There is nothing wrong with being an introvert at all, but not all shy people are introverts. Some are extroverts. They need to be around people, but for whatever reason, they are scared to be themselves and are afraid of social situations or interacting with certain types of people they find intimidating. To be a shy extrovert is very difficult, you are always fighting yourself, putting yourself down, and feeling out of control of your social life.

        I think this post isn’t saying there is anything wrong with an introverted personality. It’s about overcoming shyness. Two totally different concepts!

        • the watcher

          an introvert isn’t necessarily afraid to be his or herself, or afraid of social settings. look up what an introvert is, and you’ll see that being an introvert and being shy are two different things.

          • asdf

            “I think this post isn’t saying there is anything wrong with an introverted personality. It’s about overcoming shyness. Two totally different concepts!”

            lol l2read

        • Nancypants

          Great response Megan, well explained. Finally somebody has explained exactly how I am – a shy extrovet. Some people you are just comfortable with straight away, some take a while longer.

        • Lexie

           I’m scared of ruining peoples reputations

        • Skylord Goopes49

           is that pitcher docter who’s companion?

          • gregory hooop-es

             darnet misspelled pitcher well i sort of forgot how to spell that

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  • zwenkwiel

    I think it’s a load of bull!
    all the senseless casual conversation isn’t necessary.
    and if some1 judges people by their appearance (or behaviour to certain extent)
    i don’t even wanna talk to em

    • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

      I doubt you make many new friends with that attitude.

    • http://lukees.com Luke

      Casual conversation is completely necessary if you ever plan on creating relationships with humans, but I suppose these days you can get by with poorly written blog comments too.

    • anon

      I agree with zwenkwiel. I’m totally secure in myself anyway, if I wish to talk to someone I will. Otherwise I see no point.

      • Jacob

        This page is here for people seeking a way out of introversion… and looking for ways to become who they want to be… There is nothing in it that is knocking anyone. Besides no matter who you are, communicating with people and becoming better at it is important to everyone. Especially strangers… all your relationships were former strangers

      • Enokgramstad

        Well then why are you reading this article? This is a guide to overcoming shyness. If you are confident in yourself I am truly happy for you, but people are different and I believe these tips can help a lot, getting a person started with interacting with people.

      • moi?

        it seems you’re well endowed with the necessary social skills. what are you doing here then?

    • asdf

      lol. everyone judges people by their appearance to some extent. even you mr.sanctimonious. 

  • Axion

    Some more information would be nice. What do you do with your hands? how do you stand? What kind of pitfalls should you avoid, to not sound creepy?

    • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

      Axion,

      It seems like a lot of readers are interested in that type of info. I’ll probably to do another post on the subject next week.

      • Eric

        I can’t talk and I’m deaf so I don’t know how I can put this into use.

  • Desiree

    In theory I agree with your position, in practice I find that 7 years in customer service in industries that don’t lend themselves to positive interactions (banking, insurance) has made me more poised but less interested in interacting with new people. In this case what would you suggest?

    • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

      Maybe try interacting with people in an environment that’s more cheerful and conducive to fun, like the beach or a park.

      I could see how working in banking/insurance could make talking to strangers an unpleasant experience.

      • http://digg.com KC

        I’ve been incredibly shy for the longest time. My mom always kept me sheltered and taught me that every stranger out there is a potential enemy. She took “don’t talk to strangers” a bit too far and made me fear people.

        What people think of me has ruled my life for a long time. I was even anorexic for awhile because of it. Because i was hoping people would like me based on how good i looked. Now i’ve grown to realize it doesn’t matter. None of others’ negativity matters.

        I’ve lived so long being afraid and never sat to think “why”. Why am i afraid of what someone might think of me? Because they won’t be my friend? I won’t die if someone doesn’t like me and i’m glad i realize that now. I think shyness/anxiety creates an unknown fear. I bet a fair amount of people with anxiety don’t ever stop to question why they’re so afraid. They’re just afraid. If things were more thought out and clarity given, it might be different.

        i’m 24. Having my daughter really changed my outlook on everything. I loved your post. I agree what others said: more specifics please! Hand gestures, when it’s okay to make physical contact, a slap on the back, high five, etc. I see your blog helping alot of people. Thank you

  • http://juiceofchampions.com/home Brad Baggett

    Nice post, I use to be so fearful of strangers until I realized that there is nothing to fear. Like you say in your article 95% that react negatively to you have something else bothering them. I have to catch myself reacting in a negative way too when I am having a bad day. It is so critical in the business world to make contacts and network. I recently wrote a post about the necessity of networking that fits in perfectly with your suggestions on meeting strangers.

    http://juiceofchampions.com/home/networking-idle-chatter-or-essential-business

  • http://www.reason4smile.com Robert @ reason4smile

    Hi John,
    I wanna say thank you, I’ve got to know your blog long time ago, from a message titled overcoming shyness on october 9th. That is actually one of my inspiration to become a blogger, as I believe more and more that I have something to share.
    And now I’m a professional blogger =)

    Thanks for your sharing, how you shine bring me to shine as well.

    Appreciate it!
    Robert

  • http://www.startgo.com Suz

    Hey John,
    Thanks for shouting to me about this on Digg, it’s a great article!

    -Suz
    http://www.startgo.com

  • http://lukees.com Luke

    Your post seems to end with “if you’re shy, try not being so shy”. I’m not sure that telling a timid person to “[say] Hi out of the blue” to a stranger is much help. It’s like asking a deaf person to “just listen”.

    Honestly, being a shy person myself, the only cure I’ve found is psyching yourself out. If you keep telling yourelf to “go up and talk to her”, it will eventually be every second thought you have; you’ll have no choice but to go up and talk to her. It also helps to get your friends to help psych you into it; they can offer the pressure you need and the support you need should you back down.

    Once you’ve psyched yourself into something like this, you’ll start realising how trivial talking to a stranger can be and the next time you need psyching out will be a whole lot easier.

    • Jasper

      That sounds like a great idea to set yourself up for horrible failure. If you’re in love and all wound up on contacting someone, you might very well do it in the worst way. (Know it from experience)

      • http://lukees.com Luke

        Pressure doesn’t have to lead to failure. I’m sorry that in your experience it’s lead to this. But your personal experience is not enough evidence do disprove my suggestion, let alone anyone else’s. Any method you try to overcome shyness can and often will lead to failure. Failure is simply an inherent possibility in trying to accomplish anything.

        Also, saying that psyching yourself out to talk to a stranger “might very well [lead you to do so] in the worst way” is very ambiguous and completely ungrounded. All this says is that you could fail and you could make things worse. Sure, of course. But like I’ve said, this is inherent in trying to accomplish anything. If you take Wesley’s advice and just spout off a joke when it comes to mind you could make things worse too; you could very easily make a bad or even offensive joke and anger the stranger you wish to talk to. You could just as easily make a very good joke and ignite a conversation with that very same stranger.

        All I’m saying, is that if a person’s shyness is heavily rooted in his/her personality, it’s very hard to simply convince them (with words) that they should just ignore this aspect of themselves. I have found it more useful—yes, from my personal experience—to have myself and my family and friends apply pressure on me. It helps having your friends and family doing it so that they can support you should experience “horrible failure”.

  • http://www.varsityblah.com/about Eugene (Editor, Varsity Blah)

    Overcoming shyness is such an important thing. And doing it isn’t impossible. It’s like Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Smile, breathe and go slowly.” Great post, John!

  • tellos

    Nice article not 20 foot long:-) strait to the point

  • Dinocar

    I was shy for the longest time and i couldn’t ever get over the problems of speaking to new people until i saw this video about rational and irrational fears.
    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=RnOt4aN2uyc

    • Matt

      Wow, that really is inspirational – you just have to tell people how you’re feeling, thanks for sharing that. JUST NEVER GIVE UP.

  • http://www.thechocolatereview.net/ Terry

    Very good advice, I’ve often struggled with shyness from childhood, I found the best way to get over it, for me at least, was to just confront it. It’s like most fears, the easiest way to get over them is to confront them and see that there’s nothing to really be afraid of.

  • http://www.socialfundamentals.com Kyle

    Great article. With motivation and positive action anyone can re-program themselves to not be afraid of talking to strangers. Integrating this new habit into your identity takes time though. Baby steps. Definitely start small… If you have a hard time with strangers, start with coworkers, neighbors, people you see and already know. Start making more eye contact with people you walk by on the street. Get comfortable with your new habit.

  • http://na Mif

    Yeah those are just the basics – enough to get you on digg.com. but I don’t think you are a shy person that overcame that because if you want to real give some usful info to shy people, you should address their introverted-ness.

    Shy people say:
    “I don’t know what to say”
    or
    “I can’t think of a good joke”
    or
    “I can’t think of a constructive comment to say”

    they aren’t shy because they are afraid of talking…

    • rpor

      I totally agree. This is indeed the problem. I personally hardly ever speak to stranges not because I’m “afraid”. Being afraid has nothing to do with it.
      On most cases I see no reason to, and this post has given some reasons to do so anyway, and I can relate to that. However, when I actually do want to say something, I usually avoid that simply because I start searching for something to say, and then draw blank…

      So specific examples and guidance would have helped here.

    • You don’t wanna know

      Amen!

      • matt

        thats exactly how i am. im not afraid really to talk i just cant think of anything to say i draw blanks. ive noticed about myself is im either really boring and can think of alot of boring things to say or i can be really funny but just saying stupid funny stuff not having a real conversation which isnt really usefull.

        • Lexie

           i like wat u said there Matt, sometimes i tell myself to shut up and just walkaway.

  • http://www.warbunny.de Warbunny

    Um, hi.
    First of all, I’m German, so don’t be mad if I’m making some mistakes ;)
    Second – Yes, I am shy. After reading your article, I just smiled, because in my case, all of that wouldn’t work. It’s just the theory you’re posting here, I think most of the shy people will already know this. You’re saying, “You have nothing to lose but your shyness!”, maybe this is true, but I … well, I think i fear to lose my face in front of them. I’m way too shy to just go to anyone I see on the street and say “Hi, nice shirt, how do you do” or whatever.
    I think if I would ever do this, some time will pass, cause I need a lot more courage to do this.
    Now, where do I get courage from? Just because I’ve talked to some strangers I met on the street I won’t be able to do this without getting nervous even after a whole year or so.
    I dunno what to say now, cause it really *is* an good article. but it’s, for someone like me, just… impossible to realize this.

    Yeah. So then. I’ll try, but I don’t think I’ll be able to do this without fear in the next few years…

    Warbunny

    • Sagar

      Here’s the best way to do it. Start making social commentary about what you see around you. Comment to yourself about what people are wearing, how people are acting, funny/cool/interesting things that you see around you every day. Do this first silently, in your head. Get used to the fact that you have something interesting to say in the world. Next step: subvocalize. Say it aloud, but just out of range of human hearing. After a few weeks of that, make it a little louder. And a little louder. And a little louder. At this point, you should have been doing it for months — the only difference now is that people can hear you.

      • http://www.warbunny.de Warbunny

        sounds acceptable :) i think i’ll try this

        thanks :)

  • http://www.contentblog.net Amrit Hallan – Content Blog

    The best way to deal with shyness would be to love…yourself, and the others. When you love yourself (I’m not saying love your ego) you don’t feel insecure about yourself and hence you don’t fear rejection. And when you love people you don’t find them threatening. This feeling of love can be developed gradually; it doesn’t have to be a revolutionary personality change. Begin by one person you are not close to and decide that you are going to love that person and are not going to feel shy (well, not filling shy doesn’t mean you start appearing in front of that person in your birthday suit!) with that person.

    • Amy

      Shyness doesn’t necessarily stem from self-esteem issues! I am perfectly happy with who I am, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling nervous and coming up blank when I want to say something. It’s really not a symptom of deeper issues that need to be fixed.

      • asdf

        This. Couldn’t have put it better. 

  • nick

    strangers are easy, i’m relaxed with them, it’s people i already know i have the problem with, and usually strangers are just one time friends that go there separate way afterwards and introductions, for the most part, go towards the end of an awkward handshake and matching introduction.

    • cashpiles

      DUde, that’s exactly my issue. strangers are easy. it’s people that I already know that are more difficult. (not all people though, just some people). I find that my girlfriend fulfills almost all of my social needs.

  • C

    Did you come off pushy? Could your personal appearance be better? Thinking about these things will go a long way towards improving yourself.

    “Could your personal appearance be better?”

    WTF

    • Luke

      He said what he meant. A person is more likely to talk to you if you are professionaly, or just very nicely dressed, as opposed to stinky, ragged clothes, poorly manicured, or groomed poorly.

      Its freakin common sense.

  • Toper

    Shyness is based on selfishness, it’s a symptom. It’s root is self-absorbsion. You care way too much about what other people think of you, even strangers. Me me me. The key to combatting shyness is to work on your selfishness. Try to think less about yourself and more about what other people are feeling, is there any way you can help them? If this can be done, the shyness will take care of itself and go away on it’s own.

    Sorry if this sounds insulting to some people, but shyness is an important issue and deserves honesty.

    • Jesse

      I think you’re way off. I’m a fairly shy person and I don’t think I’m self absorbed at all. I also think that introverted people get a raw deal. Just because they aren’t outgoing and talking to everyone the need to “fix” themselves?

      • 2009 life

        Kudo’s to you’re stunning intelect Jesse, I agree.

        • 2009 life

          You should be the next U.S president.

    • Angela

      I don’t think you’re even close to the concept of shyness. I personally am only slightly shy; I have trouble talking to new people, but if I am comfortable with some people around me, I have no problem. It has nothing to do with insecurity or self-absorbency. People who are shy are just scared of other people! Maybe they had a bad experience and they were scarred by it. It isn’t right to assume they are selfish just because they are shy.

    • jamie

      I consider myself a shy person, so as of this moment I am going to stop being selfish and help you out by letting you know you are a moron who speaks out of his ass.

      “Sorry if this sounds insulting to some people, but shyness is an important issue and deserves honesty” ;-)

      • Toper

        Classic. Calling people names and putting them down so that you can feel good about yourself at their expense. I can’t think of anything more selfish and immature, thanks for proving my point for me.

        • http://digg.com/users/jamieph/ jamie

          so you don’t think that calling someone selfish and self absorbed is calling them names or putting them down?

    • http://digg.com/users/jamieph/ jamie

      p.s.
      q. which is better modesty or confidence?
      a. neither they are BOTH admirable qualities.

    • Avia

      I agree. Shyness is rude. It is, by it’s very definition, “anti-social behavior.” Of course, the shy person never sees it that way and believes just the opposite. But to believe that in a group situation you should be somehow excused from participating in polite conversation is arrogant.

      I used to be very shy but once this was pointed out to me in this way, I made every effort to stop making excuses. I’m not a raging extrovert by any means but now I look people in the eye and keep up my end when someone is friendly.

    • Tom

      As someone who used to be very painfully shy, now much less so, I am of two minds on that comment actually. There is some merit to the basis of the thought. Less self-consciousness is indeed desirable, and being self-absorbed can certainly be a part of the problem.

      I have a problem though with the “they are just selfish people” frame. Frankly the tone of it reminds me of a scowling preacher bent on shaming people at every turn. There are also reasons for the withdrawn state, which if accounted for might indicate using a different tone. Not to say that one has to get into the reasons to help, just be aware that they are there, and thereby understand that a more merciful and less judgmental tone may be in order. I believe strongly that in many cases it is due at least in part to the cruelty of peers early in life; a thought distortion develops producing expectations of ill treatment and harsh judgment — another reason why I believe that the “they are selfish people” tone will prove unhelpful, it would seem to most shy people as just another example of harsh judgments thrown their way by people more interested in proving their own superiority (moral superiority in this case) in comparison to them than in actually being helpful. It may not be the intent of the poster to give that impression, but there is a definite harshness in the coming across. Then again, frankly I have observed in some cases that gratuitous tongue clicking by fairly merciless people is often spun as “just being honest”. But I don’t know the poster or his or her intentions either way.

      I’ll just put it this way: If you the poster are REALLY interested in helping shy people, and not just in judging them, then I would suggest a lot more tact. You can still use the basis for your point (though probably not by itself alone) because there is a degree of merit in it. Just be kinder about how you go about it, and patient.

      I know the politics of the day has been favoring hardness and decries compassion as weak and empathy as traitorous. Ignore that zeitgeist and especially do not let it bleed into every area of life. It is poison.

      A couple more general comments going back to the originating subject itself:

      While not a trained expert on cognitive therapy, I do feel from what I know of it (and that does include coming out of years of chronic low-grade depression because of it), that it probably has great potential in helping a lot of shy people out there.

      Shy people, it seems to me, also often have sensitive nervous systems, and strong emotion is felt more than with many other people. This may be the cause of some added challenges as well. They may be prone to some sensory overload too, including going into an almost trance-like state at times when there constant sounds and the din of voices, startling more easily, etc.

    • Kyle

      I am a REALLY shy guy in person. I was once told that I am shy because I’m “selfish”. I’ve also been  told that I’m a “condescending asshole” because I don’t talk much. That made me feel like a really crappy person.  They said these things thinking that a person can just change from being an introvert to an extrovert whenever they feel like it, but that the person was only choosing to be an introvert out of selfishness and/or a sense of superiority to those around him. I tell you here and now that these people do not even slightly understand what it’s like to be shy or what shyness stems from. I don’t choose to be shy. I’ve been walked around/on/over for my entire life because I’ve been small and shy ever since early childhood. I’m always the one being told what to do and how to do it and usually never vice versa. People that don’t know me generally have little to no respect for me because they think I’m just a weak person all around: physically and mentally. Opportunities come and go before I can even muster up the guts to say anything. I don’t like being shy. I’m not gaining anything from being shy. So don’t tell me, or any other shy person for that matter, that they choose to be that way out of “selfishness”. Selfish people do things that will ultimately benefit them. That’s just not the case with being shy. I don’t see the selfish benefits. We are usually just afraid and insecure.

      In social situations, I get very anxious. The more I don’t know the people that I’m interacting with, the more anxious I am. But I’m even slightly to moderately anxious when interacting with my best friends. Oftentimes, I literally don’t know what to do or say. My thoughts become an unorganized mess, so it takes me a lot longer than normal just to gather the words together to say what I wish to say (if I can manage to  find them at all). Then I have to overcome the fear of speaking those words out loud. When I finally say them, I nervously wonder, “Did that come out right?” Sometimes, I just don’t feel like I’m good enough and that the world won’t like me if I show them who I am.

    • Kyle

      I am a REALLY shy guy in person. I was once told that I am shy because I’m “selfish”. I’ve also been  told that I’m a “condescending asshole” because I don’t talk much. That made me feel like a really crappy person.  They said these things thinking that a person can just change from being an introvert to an extrovert whenever they feel like it, but that the person was only choosing to be an introvert out of selfishness and/or a sense of superiority to those around him. I tell you here and now that these people do not even slightly understand what it’s like to be shy or what shyness stems from. I don’t choose to be shy. I’ve been walked around/on/over for my entire life because I’ve been small and shy ever since early childhood. I’m always the one being told what to do and how to do it and usually never vice versa. People that don’t know me generally have little to no respect for me because they think I’m just a weak person all around: physically and mentally. Opportunities come and go before I can even muster up the guts to say anything. I don’t like being shy. I’m not gaining anything from being shy. So don’t tell me, or any other shy person for that matter, that they choose to be that way out of “selfishness”. Selfish people do things that will ultimately benefit them. That’s just not the case with being shy. I don’t see the selfish benefits. We are usually just afraid and insecure.

      In social situations, I get very anxious. The more I don’t know the people that I’m interacting with, the more anxious I am. But I’m even slightly to moderately anxious when interacting with my best friends. Oftentimes, I literally don’t know what to do or say. My thoughts become an unorganized mess, so it takes me a lot longer than normal just to gather the words together to say what I wish to say (if I can manage to  find them at all). Then I have to overcome the fear of speaking those words out loud. When I finally say them, I nervously wonder, “Did that come out right?” Sometimes, I just don’t feel like I’m good enough and that the world won’t like me if I show them who I am.

    • asdf

      I actually really like the way you put this. I mean for the longest time I wanted to get over shyness for my own gain (i.e. networking, making friends, generally having a more fun time…etc.), but I never really looked at it as an offensive thing I was doing to other people. It’s always the opposite way (i.e. other people make it hard for me to talk). When you put it this way it really makes it feel like the shy person has the upper-hand, and you can just as easily get out of it as you got into it. 

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  • grins

    alcohol. balls in a bottle!

    • marsbars

      Not so.. I might actually become more withdrawn and apprehensive under the influence. It depends on the day though.

    • marsbars

      Not so.. I might actually become more withdrawn and apprehensive under the influence. It depends on the day though.

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  • http://www.sumsera.com Jacques

    Nice post!

    2 quotes to remind yourself of before you get out of the door:

    “What other people think of you is none of your business.”

    and…

    “Friends were once strangers too.”

  • http://www.memberspeed.com Jay, writer Memberspeed.com

    I read in a book once that a lot of people are actually just as shy or just as afraid of rejection as you are. So with that in mind, perhaps it will be easier for you to approach strangers and engage them in conversation.

  • http://eecue.com Dave Bullock

    I don’t think of myself as shy and I frequently talk to new people, but I did find some helpful bits of info in this post.

    Thanks!

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  • Pacific

    How Enlightening!!!

    NOT.

  • Georgia

    Thanks Captain Obvious.

    Even understanding the reasons and benefits behind the problem don’t always help in overcoming it. The article should be retitled to a “why” not a “how to.”

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  • http://www.ackleymedia.com/ Lukas

    Nice Article. Thank you. You got my del.icio.us bookmark!

  • http://esteemmag.ca/ Wendel

    Interesting enough, I used all the methods in this article to fight my own shyness, and that was far, far before it was ever written!

    Making off-hand comments like “It’s sure raining hard out there,” or “It looks like you’re quite busy today” really helps to get people to interact with you.

    The hardest is dealing with rude people. It might make you not want to talk to anyone for the rest of the day. But, I’ve come to realize that those people are actually quite rare. The second hardest is when people ignore you or meet your attempts at communication with silence. I’m willing to be that those types are actually as shy as you feel however.

  • http://katrineholmreview.blogspot.com Katrineholm Review

    I was going to write a long post but I’m to shy to write a post for strangers online.

  • Ihaveideas

    Hi, maybe you can help me with this. I love your post, my only problem is that I can’t crack a joke if my life depended on it. And most people like to talk to funny guys, and I am the un-funniest guy there is. I think I can work towards having a ‘braver’ personality, but my biggest problem is that most of the time, i have nothing to talk about! I’d love to hear suggestions from anyone.
    Best wishes

    • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

      Haha I don’t think you could be the un-funniest person in the world. ;) I also don’t think it’s true you have nothing to talk about.

      First of all, don’t worry about having something important to say. People talk about mundane things all the time. Just mention what’s on your mind.

      A lot of humor is spontaneous, so if a witticism strikes you, just let it fly. It gets a lot easier with a little practice and the encouragement of positive reactions.

    • 2009 life

      Hey, anybody out there likes a dry sense of humor, maybe that’s what you have. I actully thought it was humorous just to read about you saying that you thought that you weren’t funny. Follow? Anyhoo, you’re gonna knock ‘em dead with that explaination if they ever ask you for a good joke.

  • Megan

    I think it’s important to distinguish here the difference between shyness and introversion. One is a personality type, the other more like a social disorder. There is nothing wrong with being introverted vs extroverted. Introversion is something that extroverts don’t understand and can be “threatened” by or take as rudeness. Shyness, however, is really difficult to overcome. I know this because I consider myself a partial shy extrovert. And to the defense of shy people, it can take months to break a habit you haven’t had for very long. How long does it take to break a personality issue you’ve had your whole life?

    I’d recommend the book “The Introvert Advantage” for anyone wondering about the difference between shyness and introversion.

    @20, are you a shy or confident person? If you aren’t shy than it’s not completely fair to assume shy people are selfish. I’m not sure self-absorption is the correct term. To me, this seems like what most extroverted confident people THINK shy people are like.

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  • http://praxis22.livejournal.com praxis22

    “Confidence is an act, anyone can fake it.”

    This has been a guiding principle and an article of faith with me for more years than I care to remember. It boils down to this:

    What is the difference between somebody with “natural confidence” and somebody who fakes it?

    The person who is naturally confident, is presumed to have no fear of rejection, they talk to somebody, are rejected, think nothing of it, and move onto the next person.

    Whereas the average/shy type, when they are rejected, they are crushed inside, and go hide in a closet, resolved never to be so stupid again.

    However, were the average/shy type to fake confidence it would look a little like this:

    The person who fakes confidence, fears rejection, they talk to somebody, are rejected, fell crushed inside, and move onto the next person.

    Objectively, there is no difference between the two, since the difference is entirely personal and “subjective”. The important point however is that confidence is all about perception, and members of the opposite sex think confidence is attractive. If you are thought of as being confident, people will treat you as being confident.

    Also, if you actively practise something for long enough it becomes a habit, pretty soon it just becomes part of who you are. Just like riding a bike, or learning to drive.

    • http://www.jellyowl.com/ Jelly Owl

      I agree. Just like anything else, learning to talk to people takes practice. A quote from one of my favorite anime is “I might get hurt; I might hurt them too, but I’ll stop running away by being alone. I’ll become true to myself.” (Inu X Boku), which I think basically means that you might get hurt talking to people and you might hurt them, but in the long run its all worth it.

  • John

    Pretty inspiring post. I plan, and really hope I do, to practice it.

  • missy

    Wow! I could not have seen this post at a better time. I just moved to a new city and know absolutely no one but my roommate. I haven’t been able to get out there and meet people because I have a crippling fear of talking to people. To top it off, I’m a naturally shy and introverted person to begin with. Now I’m off to a coffee shop and I’m really going to try to 1. look people in the eye and 2. say ‘hi’ to strangers. I think the random comment thing will eventually come into play (I hope).

    Thank you for the post!

    • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

      Good luck missy! Moving to a new city was actually what inspired me to write this article. I’m sure you’ll do great.

  • http://cleverswine.net CleverSwine

    Stop Helping the Shy!
    http://cleverswine.net/?p=333

    • http://cleverswine.net CleverSwine

      Sorry, I shouldn’t speak for all shy people. I am personally frustrated with people trying to “help” me.

      • Megan

        I think what you’re talking about in your comment isn’t “shy” it’s having an introverted personality. See my comment #35 :)

  • http://www.spiffylinks.com Dave Nofmeister

    Very nice article. I think most shyness issues are fear of rudeness or rejection, or just not comfortable with one’s social skills. I think this article adresses this well.

  • http://blog.designrjc.com Rudy

    Interesting article. It feels a bit short. You could have elaborated on it a bit more. Nice open and intro to how to talk to strangers.

  • http://www.surespeak.com Eric G

    There are some new sites/services out there like http://www.surespeak.com that let you practice speaking with your webcam. Might be something to check out.

  • http://noarose.blogspot.com/ Noa Rose

    Shyness is often a matter of self-confidence combined with fear of rejection or worse yet public humiliation.

    You made several great observations and suggestion on ways to live with shyness. An introvert is not necessarily shy in all aspects of life,and an extrovert many be painfully shy in some areas of life. There’s room for a great variety of personalities and that is what makes life so interesting.

    • 2009 life

      It seems to be totally true that a shy guy is always more socially acceptable than a shy girl, this is kind of my battle, why is this so? Girls are always seen as the conversation queens or the multitasking gossippers while the men bashfully try to conjure up a slick line to reel the women in or to make a joke among other guys.
      It’s not too attractive to be a shy girl, that’s the thing I get out of it, somebody tell me I’m wrong here.

  • http://metavitae.com Will

    I have often found that in starting a new thing, a helpful practice is to Also Learn the Next Step.

    Taking baby steps and opening people is fine.

    What’s even better is to learn conversation either through a book or a class, so that you’re prepared for the next step after they say, “Good, how are you?”

    Also, Shyness can partially equate to a Fear of Exterior Judgment in addition to the garden variety introversion. Getting over that fear is another project entirely (and probably worthy of its own post).

    Cheers.

  • thomas040

    My mom always told me to never talk to strangers, but for some reason I always did the opposite of what she told me, so I have been blessed. I love to talk to people I don’t know, and have been doing so since I was … well since I could talk.

    :) Saying, whatever comes to my mind, seems to work.

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  • Jenkins

    People were a fear of mine growing up. Throughout the years, however, I have been blessed by a growing comfort with my fellow human beings. There are still situations where I freeze up, feel light headed, and/or draw into a “shell.”

    Overcoming these things take time as does the body when being exercised. This is a mental discipline, handling people, and is not merely a label we are so used to seeing (“Introverted” or IFJC or what have you). My experiences for growth are: college (the personalities there, the new faces, roommates, etc), new jobs (cashier, waiter, salesman), and other situations where I a forced to be out of my shell.

    The process can and is very tiring. I always need an “alone-time recharge” after a party, work, or being with an unfamiliar crowd. Regardless, I find it easier and easier to look into a strangers eyes, smile, and utter an AUDIBLE “Hello.”

    Introduction and conversation development is no different than training a muscle.

  • http://www.coffeetablezone.com axileon

    hey… very nice post. i really like it.. really useful for a shy person like me! good job!

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  • Mary

    I was just rejected for a job because I was “too shy” and not outgoing enough so this problem is pretty serious, I think. This post is great, but could have been more detailed.

    • SW

      Yes shyness can be a crushing problem in the workplace. I am having to leave my job because people think that I am too afraid to speak to them. Making conversation can be very intimidating, especially when people come from different cultures and are speaking different languages. I feel sure that this shyness is very connected to narcissism or other kinds of conceitedness. But these seem to be kind of original sin, very hard to just eliminate.
      Also the problem is connected to a lack of love or concern for the lives of the people around. This seems to be something that can be tackeled by some positive action.

      The article seemed to be helpful. I will try some of the things.

    • Amonger

      dont be so shy 

    • Amonger

      dont be so shy 

    • Amonger

      dont be so shy 

    • Amonger

      dont be so shy 

    • Amonger

      dont be so shy 

    • Marsad Cheema

      excuse me brother

  • http://www.avipune.blogspot.com Avinash

    I have couple of questions:

    1. I don’t understand what I should be talking to these people. I don’t have fear to talk..but no subjects to talk or continue talking.
    2. My voice is small. So while talking in group of men, I can’t bring my attension. Same is not true in group of ladies. I am pretty popular in ladies.

    What can be done on these problems?

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  • Shahed

    Hello John

    Your article is amazing. I am a extremely shy person around people I don’t know, but however I am not shy around people I know.
    I feel very bad, because some of these people I really would like to know better.

    I’ll take your advise to heart.
    Thank-you

    a stranger you have helped,
    ~Shahed

  • George

    For those of us who need a little boost to try to start a conversation, this might be a helpful read:
    http://www.erinpavlina.com/articles/jump-pool-clothes-on.htm

    As for the *content*, I will surely try Sagar’s (reply to 16.) advice :-)

  • http://ooyes.net web design company

    “The weather either sucks or its great”, is an excellent way to start phasing out your shyness. Its alway there so you will always have some thing to say. + You can improvise on it all the time.

  • Blake

    The way I see it is that, If you’re shy then you gain absolutely nothing. You have to at least try to force yourself to talk to other people when you can, As long as you aren’t obviously looking nervous or completely rude to them, you have NOTHING to lose and A LOT to gain (like a friend). I used to be shy when I was younger and the way I eventually got over it was just by forcing myself to forget all about what people think of me, because really.. Its all in your head! No one is actually diagnosing everything about you as you have a conversation, so just loosen up and get yourself to talk, If you’re still in school then that make it even easier for you.. Just go out with your friends over the summer.. And remember, ANYONE can lose their social skills or BECOME shy because they stay away from people for too long, so stay active, go outside, have fun, talk to people, gain friends, live life. No matter what you think, It’s a lot better then being alone.

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  • http://lleeyourblinds.com Linda

    A couple people have asked for specific steps to take to come up with ideas to talk about, but I have not seen many ideas. I am someone who can look people in the eye, no problem, but when it comes to some people I know and have known for quite some time, I get stuck for ideas “on the fly”. I feel like I have nothing to contribute to a conversation with them. I think it is perceived negatively. What can I do to come up with ideas of topics to talk about?

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  • dont have one

    alcohol can help,though its not always practical.

  • Jeff

    Hi, I’m currently a college student and I’m almost finished with my freshman year. I’ve made a lot of great friends, and I usually have no problem jelling with people that I end up seeing a lot, like my hallmates for example. However, I’m really disappointed with myself in that I have a really hard time being around girls that I find attractive. I went to a single-sex school for 6 years, so being at a “normal” university is a lot of stress for me. Every time that I think of a pretty girl that I like, it gets me down, because being around them makes me so afraid. I’ve been trying to work on this all year, but I just can;t seem to improve as much as I want to.

    • saleh

      My condition is worse I went my whole education to a single-sex schools and even outside the school my small town was very conservative, when I moved to the university which is an American university in an arab country I am really stuck and for three years I know a total of zero girls and this even affected my friendship with boys in the uni

  • saleh

    Hi, I found both the post and the really interactive replies very interesting as I am very shy and I am a university student and almost I had never talked with a girl before even I don’t know what to say or how to start. I can stay for hours with a girl in any place thinking of a way to start chatting but I never got the boldness to do so.

  • john k

    Thinking is good, but shyness is an unfortunate byproduct of thinking. All I am are my thoughts, but many of those “thoughts” are music and colors and wordless impressions, so it’s impossible to be all that I am and then translate that into a working model for presentation to strangers. So, by letting any of this matter at all, I don’t define myself. Everybody else defines me. I hand that power over to them. Moments of faces and comments, and longer moments alone spent reflecting on those moments. That is what adds up to what I am. What separates me.

    Hilariously, all I’m doing is adding up tiny slices from other people’s day, and interpreting the sum total as me. Meanwhile, we’re stuck to this rock spinning in a vacuum.

  • Elizabeth

    I love your articles on shyness; they really help me feel better about the whole issue, like it’s something I can and will overcome if I try. One thing I find sometimes it that I get so caught up in doing my own thing that even when people try to talk to me, I’m not really that into it. It’s not that I don’t like them; it’s just easier for me to read a book than to make small talk, and in this case easier=more fun.

  • Jennifer

    What type of careers have all of you had? My mom is wanting to find a new job, she has a bachelors in biology and doesn’t like where she’s at right now. I am also trying to find out what to do for a career and am very shy. Any pointers would help.

  • http://www.2knowmyself.com farouk

    that’s an interesting article, hope u write part 2 of it

  • 2009 life

    Word. You couldn’t have put it any better John K. School us some more.

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  • Lee

    Thank You for this article and the few others on this website!
    Great work and important.
    Thanks

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  • Preeti

    I like the article and it helps shy people to help themselves at least for sometime if not forever…But if one strictly follows the guidelines i guess one can overcome from shyness to a great extent..

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  • http://www.mypromdresses.co.uk/ prom gowns

    really useful to me,thx!

  • http://www.chambresdhotes-gite.fr gite france

    To pick brains as well as to pick up opportunities, to be out there in the thick of things in order to make the most of what comes their way.

  • http://www.shyFAQ.com Tim at SHYFAQ

    I find it helps to learn to talk to strangers if you start small and work your way up. For example, start striking up a conversation with the cashier each time you buy something at a store. When that becomes easy for you, move on to the next level of difficulty.

  • tasha marie braly

    my name is tasha marie braly i am 20 year old and i love my dog samantha.

  • Michael

    I have never read a full article like this and take it so seriously. This perfectly descibes me in EVERY way shape or form. I have missed out on so many good things and lost alot of good friends just because I am shy and keep it all bottled in my head. I think WAY to much and I need to just let it all go and be open with people. I noticed too that I too get really deffencive and my GF’s all seem to want to get out of the relationship just because I can be akward when trying to think of anything. Just wish I could be myself and just grasp all of the good things I should be going through at my age. Im 18 and pretty much cant get a job. I’ve been to 5 interviews in the past month and I always am too nervous to give a proper interview.(I know this because they always comment I look nervous). Shyness is really messing up my entire life from the start. I’ve been shy since I was little and I find it EXTREMELY difficult to change. Mainly due to the fact I am even too shy to change for my friends because I dont know how to be confident all the time. Just sometimes when im with my close friends I’ve known since middleschool. Dont get me wrong I have alot of friends and go to too many parties. Im just the life of the party but I can still be fun. I wanna be the guy people notice. Not just blend in the backround. Sorry this little “thank you for your guid” comment is long. I just started typing and couldn’t stop untill I got a few things off my chest. I’ve never done anything like this before. It feels good to just get my words out there. But if anyone could please comment this message with anything. That would mean alot. Im going to save this page and come back to it now and then to see if anyone has read it. THANKS FOR READING!!!
    Michael H.

  • Sajeel

    I Tried Everything……… Nothing Works… I Still blame myself for others mistakes and ignorance…………

  • Lo

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us. I have a student who has come to me for the very same reason, but i have a different approach to overcome shyness. Personally my opinion is a shy person may read this and more but when it actually comes down to uttering that first word, to break that big block ice in your head & say something is extremely difficult& i mean EXTREMELY difficult!!

  • TK

    Michael, find a counselor (or teacher, older person, pastor) you can trust and learn ways to deal with your nervousness. Learn to tame shyness like you would a fearful dog, so that the real you can shine through. It does get better as you get older, but comes up every time you have a new situation in life (which is many times!). Learn the self-help skills now for a life of peace.

  • Sachin

    Fantastic..Everything you told.
    I am going on a drive next year to make around a 100 friends from complete strangers. :)
    But i just have a small problem..If I smile at girls,they may think like I am hitting on them or flirting..which I think will offend most of the girls.
    So,any one having tips for that situation?

  • wow

    Great advice, I like the idea of starting small and gradually progressing. I used to have this irrational fear of most people, where if we made eye contact I’d instantly look away. People will be very receptive to you if you make eye contact and smile…dosn’t matter who it is; I’ve found they almost always smile back. I’m still getting over my anxiety of large crowds though…gah. :]

  • sam

    g8 comment guys
    but when i try to like some girls i start thinking of my bad days i had , i started comparing myself with other and started a feeling of timidness of myself , and feel like why she will choose me ????, i m a person of average height 5’5”. and when someone comment on that i feel like why i m in this world, i m like feeling shy in going close to that girl talk is far far thing , i somehow manged now to get of this situation i dont really talk to such peoples . and it helped me alot then again i now feared of going to a group and such that please help ………….
    :-(

  • Manoj Rustagi

    i want to away with shyness

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  • http://www.onehundredcups.com Greg Dion

    Hey everyone!

    I agree – great article. As someone who regularly talks to strangers (as part of personal journey to meet 100 strangers for 100 cups of tea) I think a lot of this is practical advice!

    @Manoj – I want to away with shyness too!

    @sam – Don’t worry too much mate, shyness with ladies is normal. I was the same way a few years ago. But, as you go through life, it tends to get easier. Just do your best to be yourself, and be open to opportunities. Being shy doesn’t make you less interesting, or less enjoyable to be around!

    @wow – It is good to start small. I’ve been meeting strangers for cups of tea – trying to see if a cup of tea can change my life! Or, well, more if an ordinary conversation with a complete stranger has the power to change my life. Cup # 1 was terrifying. I almost backed out. Almost. But now, myself and the guy who I met for the very first cup are good mates. We went to the pub and to a gig the other week – it’s like we’ve been friends for years. The thing I realized, much sooner than I had anticipated, is that we all (everyone one of us) have the ability to mean something to each other. It just takes that willingness to let the relationship begin. That willingness to, as you say, make eye contact and smile. It’s an incredible thing!

    @Sachin – You post is a few months old now, but maybe you’ll read this! I am intrigued! A drive to make 100 friends you say? Sounds similar to my silly tea quest. I’d love to throw ideas around when you have a chance – if you get this that is!

    @Michael – Drop me a line mate! greg@onehundredcups.com – There is a book you might like to read that might change how you think about being shy, and how you might be able to use a different medium to get your thoughts out. As you typed above, I don’t think you have a problem with expressing yourself! You’ve done it so well up there, maybe the medium is what needs some work? And too, if your shyness is truly something you’d like to overcome, that can be done with some dedication and some time. Like anything, it takes a bit of work – but it is definitely worth it!

  • lucille

    best advice ever if yall wanna chat me up add me on fb lucille white my propic is me and this blonde chick luv u alll.

  • http://howtogetoversocialanxiety.blogspot.com SonicShyGuy

    Very good points, especially the point about each person being a “learning experience.” Often, shy people are too caught up in their own thoughts, making them even more nervous. A thing that’s helped me is to think more along the lines of “this person is interesting; what can I learn from him or her?” It doesn’t eliminate the anxiety completely, but it drastically reduces it.

  • Rajesh

    First thanks for the nice article.
    I used to feel shy when i meet attractive stranger girls at work.Even i messed up the conversations and used to feel awkward when they have joined for lunch etc,but let me tell you now i think i have overcome this weird behavior to some extent when meeting strangers .
    My advice to all of those who feel the same way like me is just take it as a challenge and even if you feel embarrassed for the first time do not give up and try again to start small conversations with confidence.
    one more thing is don’t just start conversation when feeling nervous and instead when someone in the group started it just try to extend it by adding your personal experiences or some thing related to it.As time passes you will overcome the fear and will be a good communicator.
    Remember friends DON’T GIVE UP!!!!

  • http://100strangerstofriends.blogspot.com/ Chris

    Great advice.

    Definitely start small. If you take one small step at a time and congratulate yourself, you’ll improve quickly

    I’ve been meeting and photographing strangers for the past year and it has really changed my view of humans – they’ve definitely risen in my opinion – most people are good!

  • Andy

    I love this article. It has made me reliase that it is possible to reduce shyness and actually look forward to communicating with other people, and finding out about themselves, eventually creating lasting friendships. I myself tend to over-analyse things in terms of being out in public, but this article has made me look at these social situations in a more positive, optimistic way.

    I’m going to put these things into practice/implement them into my daily life so I can start talking to strangers, although it is important for me not to rush into something this difficult in terms of my shyness/socially awkwardness.

    Thank you :)

  • Eric

    After having read this outstanding article , it’s gonna be more of a stepping stone for me to get rid of shyness once and for all. Many thanks from the bottom of my heart to whoever has written this incredibly great article.

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      • Aces_high618

        im a sophomore in college and i have THE hardest time making new friends. im totally awkward at talking to people that i never met before and sometimes because i get so nervous i start stuttering and stumbling over my words. and then i start thinking the people listening to me are criticizing me in their minds and regard me a socially awkward person. it’s not that i don’t want to make friends…cause i really want to! and i wish i didn’t care so much what people thought about me. i can’t to public presentations at all; just thinking about it makes me shudder and even days before i give presentations i have nightmares about how i will fail and i usually do. right BEFORE i give a public speech/presentation it is even worse cause i start shaking, my hearts races twice as fast, and once im up there im red as a tomato. one thing i should point out though is that im not the same way around family and peers. do i have symptoms of social anxiety disorder? im thinking about going for CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) i want to learn how to be more comfortable in my skin and talk to strangers without tripping over my words and looking like a damn fool

  • Allenerin1985

    social skills do not come easy to me. I try to make small talk when trying to meet new people. Sadly, things always backfire and I’m left feeling stupid. I try using popular ice breaker phrases such as “hi, I saw you sitting alone, would you like some company?” And then if they say yes, I end up just sitting there in silence and have nothing to say other than “sooooo…..” which makes me feel like I’m boring them or annoying them. I’m tired of feeling like I’m a boring person! Maybe I am boring, but I really can’t help it. And now things are getting worse. I don’t care if people like me, I’m just worried about how to stop being so damn boring. Its a really uncomfortable situation to be put in.

    • Paula

      Hi dear, its just a state of mind really… what you vibrate is mostly what people get attracted too, so if you like someones energy stay with it, in that exciting moment and it’ll come easily tarting with small talk of corse  then striking interesting conversations.

  • Jerry Brower

    Very helpful and informative.  You set down some really great guidelines to commit to action.  Being an introvert myself, having steps to follow in a systematic manner seems to make networking a little easier.  More free tips from:   http://www.helpforthenetworkingintrovert.com/
     

  • Dasunudayanga

    it is great

  • http://flawlessconfidence.com Martin

    From my experience, the easiest way to start talking with strangers is to ask them for the time or directions. There’s nothing to be afraid of – it’s a really simple question. Once you get comfortable with asking for the time or directions, try to have a small chat. Ask for the time, then comment on something and say goodbye. Step by step and it’ll become very easy to chat with strangers!

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  • LouLou

    People either treat me like a messiah or a pariah.  I have thousands of aquaintances who call me for favors but never invite me to their parties unless they want me to cook or entertain. I have no support system of my own.  My family are the same way.  I’m thinking of starting a religion … JK

    At work and in romantic releationships I tend to take up the slack (he loses his job, I get a third job; I finish my work early, I go see who needs help).  They say I emasculate them, am trying to outshine everyone, etc.  The men start to drink, imagine things to be jealous about, get violent; the co-workers start gossip, find ways to blame me for their short-comings, spend the time they save by my doing their work taking the boss to lunch and dogging me, etc.  I have tried all of the things you suggest here.  I need to find a way to get closer to people.  It is not true that the best wau to have a friend is to be one.  Poeple always say, “You’re a great friend!” when they need something (finding an error that saves them thousands of dollars and then recommending another acquaintance that can help them even more), then act like they don’t know me when I need something (oh, like a recommendation for a job or an advanced degree program doing the very thing I helped them with & probably bettering my ability TO HELP THEM in the future …).  

  • Mindfreak

    very deeply thought lines

  • Rana

    you are awesome describer about public relation and all.. great post keep helping people to know about themself

  • http://www.prekshabansal.com Tech Blog

    Just found a new website where you can talk to strangers without anxieties

    http://talktoalien.com

  • Jerry Gallo

    Awesome post! It really puts a lot into perspective. I especially relate to the problem of overcoming shyness in romantic relationships. I am a painfully shy guy (especially when it comes to speaking to women), and I would like say how useful I found this information in becoming more outgoing.
    Will, I recently stumbled on a site:
      http://www.virtual-attraction-series.com/training-materials.html 
    that specifically aims at teaching guys social skills to help overcome social anxiety and become more confident in relationships – very structured and informative information. Any guys out there experiencing similar difficulties, check it out – well worth it! Although a little awkward learning this sort of thing online, the advice is solid and scientific. Thank you!

    • Paula

        Hi, I would like to understand this from a male perspective…. have been smiling, waving and saying hi to this guy but  I don’t
      get a response back all the time ( realize sometime he pretends not to see me) I do feel he’s timid but we come across each other daily at our kids school.. it’s really awkward. What should I do to make him feel at ease ????
      ( he seams to fear me or something, I have not been aggressive what so ever) We have staired a each other occasionally in the past and he tried to say hi a few years ago back when (I was fatter then, now I’m slimmer so could this be it?)what do you think?Thank you:)

  • Renee Feuerhelm

    Talking about shyness is one thing. Getting over it, is next to impossible when 99.9% of the time you are rejected when you do try to start a conversation. I know from personal experiences. You make it sound so easy, and I know it isn’t easy. But there are areas that you haven’t even touched that also cause shyness.

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  • Troynance82

    When Im around a group of people I know I don’t talk I just stand there and listen. What do I do to change.please my social aspect needs help.

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  • http://www.mspy.com/ Brian

     I love what i see here. How could you come up with this? Are you an expert in those kind of things or just so fascinated that you were able to compile this? I’m amazed.

  • http://www.mspy.com/ Brian

     I love what i see here. How could you come up with this? Are you an expert in those kind of things or just so fascinated that you were able to compile this? I’m amazed.

  • JadziaClark14

    wow now only if they could help me on talking to my boyfriend’
     

  • tina

    this was helpful,
    but theyre are some parts of this post
    that makes me thing,

    ……

    ..
    .

    …….but im shy.

  • tina

    this was helpful,
    but theyre are some parts of this post
    that makes me thing,

    ……

    ..
    .

    …….but im shy.

  • tina

    this was helpful,
    but theyre are some parts of this post
    that makes me thing,

    ……

    ..
    .

    …….but im shy.

  • Crisstar1

    Can you send more detailed to crisstar1@me.com

  • Chrisstar1@me.com

    What if they keep saying wo when you do talk

  • Ratcatcom

    This is a good start. I took an e-course program called “Speak Without Fear Small Talk” that really helped me. It helped me get over my speaking to strangers anxiety and gave me  examples to use in any small talk. situation. I liked the step-by-step approach. I found it at speakwithoutfearnow.com/home.htm

  • Ratcatcom

    This is a good start. I took an e-course program called “Speak Without Fear Small Talk” that really helped me. It helped me get over my speaking to strangers anxiety and gave me  examples to use in any small talk. situation. I liked the step-by-step approach. I found it at speakwithoutfearnow.com/home.htm

  • Etg

    i mean, how can i talk to people at school. and when i try to say something i don’t say on thing i really need help. i feel like i am going to sream intell i talk to people i want to talk to please help who ever needs help

  • Sheaj2cool

    Are you fed up of the rising Gas prices???? do something about XFT Fuel treament go to sheikajohnson.mysyntek.com dont delay you will be glad you did

  • Angelskipintheday

    huh

  • http://www.facebook.com/im.agatha Agatha Yu

    Really great article, and I particularly like the getting used to rejection point. I am currently building an app that can help people to connect with others in real time. Would it be possible to get in touch with you to do some brain picking? It’s called Monstroapp: http://www.facebook.com/monstroapp

    Thanks :) Agatha x

  • katiemaybarrass

    show your willy

  • TORI

    hy

  • Syed_faiz21

    this is very nice to improve your shyness skills

  • Ricky_chin32

    love it and it really help a lot for me:-) try to post more again

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  • http://www.howtoovercomeshyness.co/ how to get over shyness

    Have you ever asked yourself question like; why was I not audacious like my friend, why do I almost lose my breath at a sight that seems uncomfortable, why do I find it very difficult to talk to the opposite sex confidently? These and many other questions are still hanging in the hearts of many youths and singles today, and were yet to be answered.

  • moi?

    ugh… how can i start small if i can’t even make eye contact!!! what happened to me? as a kid i used to be outgoing and loved attention! and now my words get stuck and can’t even make it half up my throat and i feel like i’d get a heart attack! boys, trust me, being a woman sucks as well…

  • nur_ marissa

    hi friends

  • nur_marissa

    hi tori vega

  • Sadee

    hello

  • Sadee

    hello

  • Skylord Goopes49

    im trying to start a conversation
    umm does anyone here know about minecraft because i sure would like to meet some finn=ally about that game because that conversation would like, never end.
     

    • gregory hooop-es

       fudge i keep writing the same stuff!

  • gregory hooop-es

    does anyone here know about minecraft? im just trying to start a conversation
    and if anyone is willing to respond and is wondering what that is id be sure happy to show them
     

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  • Jason

    I just read this but I’m not sure if I’ll do this, I cant find the courage to do these things and I’m used to people approaching me first but currently there seems to be no one approaching me. I find it easier to be alone than being surrounded by people talking to each other while I tend to sleep but I find it boring and lonely.

  • Kitty

    Thanks I’ll be able to chat to my boyfriend’s mom more or on the to phone to order pizza . -Helpful to me

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  • LarissaSwarts

    Small talk is the portal to all potential future relationships. If you want to master the art of networking have a look at this course. We also give additional support throughout the course! https://www.udemy.com/smalltalk/?dtcode=paWdcOj1jif2#/