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7 Conversation Tips for Shy People

Do social encounters make you feel nervous or self-conscious? Shine at your next social event with these seven conversation tips for shy people.

Are social encounters awkward for you?
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Are social encounters awkward for you?

Overcome Your Shyness

Do social encounters make you feel nervous or self-conscious? You are not alone.

According to the Encyclopedia of Mental Health, nearly 50 percent of all American adults report shyness, especially around unfamiliar people.

Shy people rarely start conversations because they worry about how others view them. They fear disapproval or humiliation. Introverts and extroverts alike can experience shyness. It is usually an issue of confidence and self-esteem.

Feeling awkward in social situations can interfere with your ability to enjoy yourself. You may miss opportunities that other people eagerly embrace. Your shyness may cause unpleasant physical reactions such as blushing, sweating, and upset stomach. You may avoid social settings altogether.

Shyness causes discomfort in many areas of your life: meeting new people, dating, social events, business cold calls, public speaking, and other social situations. Not only does it keep you from feeling comfortable around strangers, but it also affects your friendships and other relationships.

Are you ready to improve your quality of life? Do you want to make a good impression on others? Here are seven conversation tips for shy people that will help you enjoy your next party, date, or business networking event. They are simple keys to effective communication.

Visualize a positive outcome.
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Visualize a positive outcome.
Source: Free Digital Photos

1. Visualize the Outcome

Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life (Gawain, Shakti)
Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life (Gawain, Shakti)
Book by Shakti Gawain / Format: Audio Edition
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Visualization is an important key to effective communication. Before you attend your next social event, visualize yourself as a confident person who makes friends easily.

Tell yourself that you are comfortable in social situations, and imagine a positive outcome. It may feel silly at first, but repeating self-affirmations can be an effective way to overcome shyness and learn to converse with people.

2. Focus on Other People

Do you want to know a secret to effective communication? Take the pressure off yourself and focus on other people. Instead of trying to impress someone with clever conversation, show a genuine interest in what others have to say.

When you focus on someone else, you make that person feel special. This can put you at ease and make you feel more relaxed, as well.

Be the first to introduce yourself.
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Be the first to introduce yourself.
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3. Introduce Yourself First

Self Confidence Secrets: How To Be Outgoing and Overcome Shyness
Self Confidence Secrets: How To Be Outgoing and Overcome Shyness
Book by Lucas McCain / Format: Paperback Edition
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Learning to introduce yourself is an important conversation tip for shy people. Don't wait for someone else to say "hello" and invite you into the conversation. Offer a handshake, smile, and introduce yourself.

After the introduction, offer an appropriate compliment and follow up with a related question. When you start the conversation, you can steer it any way you wish. You are in control, and this gives you a feeling of confidence.

4. Express Genuine Interest

Express a genuine interest in other people, and make them feel important. This one of the best tips for effective communication.

When you show an interest in others and what they have to say, they will keep talking. Most people like to talk about themselves, and this takes the pressure off of you.

Listening is the key to good conversation.
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Listening is the key to good conversation.
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5. Actively Listen to Others

Are You Really Listening?: Keys to Successful Communication
Are You Really Listening?: Keys to Successful Communication
Book by J. Paul Donoghue and Mary E. Siegel / Format: Paperpack Edition
Amazon Price: $9.00
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Active listening is the secret to good conversation. Listening to someone talk is easier than trying to think of something clever to say.

Other people often enjoy talking, and they are more likely to open up when you express a genuine interest in them. Active listening enables you to ask follow-up questions to keep the conversation going.

6. Ask Open-Ended Questions

Good conversations are a balance between listening and talking. Ask open-ended questions that show your interest and encourage others to continue the conversation.

When you are comfortable, comment on your own experiences or share a story. This is an effective way to keep the conversation going.

Questions make good conversation starters.
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Questions make good conversation starters.

7. Prepare for the Pauses

The Complete Book of Questions: 1001 Conversation Starters for Any Occasion
The Complete Book of Questions: 1001 Conversation Starters for Any Occasion
Book by Garry Poole / Format: Paperback Edition
Amazon Price: $3.98
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Some conversations start out strong and continue strong. Others suddenly hit a lull where no one knows what to say.

Be prepared for the lulls. Make general comments about the food or room, or ask a question to get the conversation going again.

Not sure what to talk about? Awkward pauses are a good time to change the subject or excuse yourself. Knowing when to end a conversation is also important for effective communication.

Conversation Improves with Practice

You will not like everyone you meet, and not everyone will like you. This is not a personal reflection on you; it is merely a fact of life. As you introduce yourself to new people and enter into new conversations, your communication skills will improve.

The best conversation tip for shy people is simply to relax. When you feel at ease, others will feel comfortable around you. Your conversational skills will get better with practice, so step out of your comfort zone and engage with new and interesting people.


Reference Sources / Further Reading

  • APA contributors. (2012) "Shyness." American Psychological Association. Retrieved September 14, 2012.
  • Casriel, Erika. (March 1, 2007 / June 4, 2012). "Shedding Shyness." Psychology Today. Retrieved September 13, 2012.
  • Henderson, Lynne and Philip Zimbardo. (2008)."Shyness." Encyclopedia of Mental Health. Retrieved September 13, 2012.

Medical Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is not intended as medical advice, nor is it a substitute for treatment or diagnosis by a qualified health care professional.

Shine like gold at your next party with these seven conversation tips for shy people.
See all 6 photos
Shine like gold at your next party with these seven conversation tips for shy people.

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 Last updated on August 3, 2013

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Post a Comment 33 comments

Simon Lam profile image

Simon Lam 22 months ago

This is a well written and useful article! Thanks for the great hub!

Annette R. Smith profile image

Annette R. Smith 22 months ago from San Antonio, Texas Hub Author

Hello, Simon. Thank you for your kind words!

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 22 months ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

I am a shy person and have to make myself open up to people. Thanks for the great suggestions and ideas. The Hub is well put together and easy to read.

penlady profile image

penlady 22 months ago from Sacramento, CA Level 2 Commenter

Hi Annette. This is a wonderful article for any shy person, and there are still plenty around. Thanks for sharing. Voted up, useful and tweeted.

Annette R. Smith profile image

Annette R. Smith 22 months ago from San Antonio, Texas Hub Author

You're welcome, Hyphenbird. So glad you liked my suggestions and the hub layout. Your encouragement is much appreciated!

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