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I am shy. Please help!

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I am shy. Please help!

Dad's response

I really know how it feels being shy. When I was young, I was extremely shy and insecure. My social skills were almost zero. Even today, at the advanced age of 64, I am still very uncomfortable in certain social situations. For instance, whenever I can I try to avoid receptions, formal dinners and other social meetings. I never would go to a bar or a ball all by myself. While I have to do it numerous times each day, I still feel slightly uncomfortable to call someone on the phone whom I haven't met before. You probably think I am a bit strange. Perhaps I am. But I know that there are many people like me who haven't learned enough social skills early in life. I have described some of the tricks I have used to overcome my own shyness to some extent. Maybe they will also help you. There are three things you should do:

Understand shyness! You have to understand what shyness really is! Shyness is not just a lack of social skills - its a deep personality trait, which may have a biological (genetic) basis, but is certainly shaped by the family environment, social and economic situation in which you have been growing up.

Reduce your fears! Before you can develop and practice your social skills you must get out of a vicious cycle: the anxiety you have in particular situations, which makes you clumsy and leads to failure - which again raises the level of fear.

Increase your confidence! Once you have your anxiety under control, you can start to gradually improve your social skills and, with it, your confidence.
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Small Talk How to make people like you How to overcome shyness

Leil Lowndes (2006)
Goodbye to Shy: 85 Shybusters That Work. McGraw-Hill

Debra Fine (2005)
The Fine Art of Small Talk:
How to start a conversation,
keep it going, build networking skills - and leave a positive impression. Hyperion

Nicholas Boothman (2008)
How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less. Workman Publishing

Suzi Summers (2014)
Stop Being Shy - How to deal with the stress of social anxiety when talking to people. Amazon Digital Services

In Association with Amazon.com


 

Further reading

McCroskey, J. C., & Richmond, V. P. (1982). Communication apprehension and shyness: Conceptual and operational distinctions. Central States Speech Journal, 33, 458-468.

Shyness Scale

 

Copyright 2014, 2015 by Gerhard K. Heilig. All rights reserved.

Updated: 3 February 2015