Being shy isn’t always a bad thing. Different people are comfortable with different levels of social activity, and being shy is natural. However, some people tend to miss out on great opportunities, moments and experiences, just because they’re too shy to put themselves out there.
Professor of psychology Barry Schlenker says, “Many shy, socially anxious people report the fear of being unable to make a desired impression on others.”
Do shy people want to interact?
According to director of the Outpatient Psychotherapy Treatment Program at Emory Healthcare and author Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D., “Shy people want to be close to others but fear being rejected or criticized, so they avoid even social events they want to attend. They often end up feeling lonely and isolated, which increases their risk for developing other problems like depression or anxiety.”
If you know someone like this in your life, you may be thinking of ways to help them come out of their shell and feel more confident. Check out these methods by sociologists that explain how to best help a shy person out of their shell.
“There was a combination of shyness and just fear of looking stupid that kept me out of a lot of interesting creative conversations that I could have had at an early age.” – Ron Howard
Here Are 8 Ways To Help A Shy Person Come Out Of Their Shell
1. Have other people start with an introduction
Introducing shy people to new and outgoing people can be difficult. Instead of trying to change a shy person’s behavior, ask the more outgoing person to change the way they approach the shy person. Have them start with a simple introduction, followed by a question that your shy friend can easily answer.
For example, “Hello, my name is ___. Who are you?” They’re introduced to the new person, and then given a question they can easily answer – their name!
John Stoker, president of DialogueWORKS and author of “Overcoming Fake Talk” says that, “Asking questions is the easiest way to deepen or create a relationship with someone.”
2. Affirmations for a shy person to say
People who are shy can often become self-conscious after meeting new people. When you introduce them to someone new, make sure that the person that you introduce them with affirms their meeting. For example, have them tell your shy friend how happy they are to have met them.
“It was so nice meeting you”, or “It was a pleasure getting to talk to you!” are great ways to give affirmations to a shy person. This can work with introducing shy people to more outgoing people, or introducing yourself to shy person as well.
“If you make the first move by introducing yourself and taking an interest in the person, you will help to set them at ease, which will help you to establish a relationship with the person that could pay huge returns,” adds Stoker.
3. Use their name
People, as a general rule with a few exceptions, enjoying hearing their own name. Not only that, but repeating the use of a shy person’s name can help with affirmations. It lets the shy person know that you, or someone else, really heard and listened to them introducing themselves, and that you care about them enough to remember and use their name.
According to WikiHow, “People love to hear others say their own name because it brings a personal touch to an otherwise general situation or conversation. Not only will saying his name strengthen the bond between you and the shy guy, but it will also quicken the bonding process.”
If you’re in a group conversation, shy people can tend to retreat into their shells. Thus, using a shy person’s name can help continue to include them in the group when you want them to contribute to the conversation.
4. Explore their interests
What are they interested in? People love to talk about the things that they love – even shy people! This can be one of the best ways to get a shy person talking. As them about the things that they’re passionate about, and then ask follow-up questions. If you’re going to ask what books they like to read, also ask them what their favorite book is, then ask them what it’s about, and why they like it. This is one of the best ways to get a shy person to open up to you or other people.
5. Offer to help them
If a shy person needs help, they may not feel comfortable reaching out to other people and asking for assistance. The thought can be very anxiety-inducing, which means that they may put off asking for help as long as possible. To make sure this doesn’t happen, always offer your assistance whenever you can. Instead of making them reach out to you, make sure that they know that you’re there to help them.
According to WikiHow, “Bringing a guy out of his shell is not an overnight process, but takes time. It’s not always as simple as being super kind or asking the right questions. You may need to help him build additional social skills, depending on his personal situation and experiences.”
6. Build their self-esteem
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You wouldn’t worry so much what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”
Sometimes, shyness can be due to someone’s low self-image. While you can’t be the one to completely turn someone’s self-esteem around, you can definitely help them feel more confident. Compliment them on their clothes, or their new haircut.
Make sure you notice when something about them changes so that you can give them a compliment on it. Shy people don’t make big changes very often because they’re self-conscious about it – so when they dye their hair or wear new clothes, make sure to point it out and tell them how much you like it.
7. Start conversations with someone shy
It’s no surprise that shy people often don’t want to be the first to start a conversation. They may feel like people don’t really want to talk to them, or they may just be too shy to make the first move. There’s no harm in starting the conversation with someone that you know is shy. It can take a while, but it’ll build up a rapport and having them starting to reach out to you, first. Shy people just need to know that their company and conversation are wanted, so make sure to reach out to them every once in a while.
8. Be yourself!
Funnily enough, this is a great way to get shy people to come out of their shells, especially if you’re a more outgoing person. Just being who you are can be an inspiration for shy people. When they see you having fun and having conversations without the world crumbling around you, they’ll start to realize that they, too, can have the same type of experiences when it comes to being more outgoing.
Final Thoughts on Helping a Shy Person Break Out of Their Shell
While you may feel like just forcing them to be more social is the right way to go, that can actually cause a shy person to become overwhelmed and overstimulated, which will only cause them to retreat further. Here are some tried and true methods to help a shy person come out of their shell and live life to the fullest.