How I Got over Being Shy

I’ve said it here before: Once a shy kid, I’m not a shy adult.

And I get asked about it all the time: How did I overcome something so debilitating to me and to so many other people?

Note: Again, shyness and introversion are not the same. In fact, some researchers believe shyness and introversion have a low correlation.

Let’s talk about why I wanted to get unshy.

Anytime someone fears something—and with shyness, a person fears socializing—it disrupts her happiness and fulfillment. Fear is not a good emotion. Why whouldn’t anyone want to overcome it?

For me, more particularly, I realized that shyness would keep my life goals at a distance. So, in college, I put a program in place to get past the point of shy.

Here’s what I did:

  • Observed. Shy people usually hide in corners or against walls at social events. These aren’t ideal places to make connections, but they are great places to observe. Watch socially confident people enter the room. How do they approach it? How do they greet people? How do they break the ice? What’s their body language?
  • Set tasks and targets. Go to an event with a set number of people you must approach for conversation before you leave. People who come up and talk to you don’t count. Be realistic: Start with three. Use the tricks you learned from observing the socially confident. A form of self-imposed cognitive-behavioral psychology, making yourself do it will help you get over the fear.
  • Faked it. Just as smiling makes you feel better, acting confident is the best way to grow confident. Put on the body language of the nonshy folks you observed. Eventually, you won’t need to fake it.

Have you overcome shyness? If so, what did you do?