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7 Conversation Tips for Shy People

Updated on August 3, 2013

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?
Are social encounters awkward for you? | Source

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.
Visualize a positive outcome. | Source

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.
Be the first to introduce yourself. | Source

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

 

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.
Listening is the key to good conversation. | Source

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

 

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.
Questions make good conversation starters. | Source

7. Prepare for the Pauses

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.
Shine like gold at your next party with these seven conversation tips for shy people. | Source

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    • Annette R. Smith profile image
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      Annette R. Smith 3 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Hello, Mothers of Nations. Thank you for reading my list. I like the "open-ended questions" tip, too. I use that one a lot. Take care!

    • mothersofnations profile image

      Mothers of Nations 3 years ago

      Great hub - all wonderful suggestions, like focusing on other people and asking open-ended questions.

      God bless you.

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
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      Annette R. Smith 4 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Hi, Elizabeth. I am glad you can use some of these tips. I hope you shine at your next party!

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Good tips! I'm somewhat shy and some of these would help. It's not to the point where I'd get anxiety, these are good to keep in mind for the next party I attend!

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
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      Annette R. Smith 4 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Thank you for your comment, Gary. I very much appreciate your insight.

    • gsidley profile image

      Dr. Gary L. Sidley 4 years ago from Lancashire, England

      Some sound advice in this hub.

      People with social anxiety tend to display self-focused attention i.e. when they are with people they have an unflattering picture in their heads of what they think they look like to others. Therefore, your suggestions 2 and 5 are particularly useful.

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
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      Annette R. Smith 4 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      You're welcome, kidisttesfaye. I'm glad these tips have helped you.

    • kidisttesfaye profile image

      kidisttesfaye 4 years ago

      thanks, it helped a lot.

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
      Author

      Annette R. Smith 4 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Thanks, pinkhawk. Glad to help!

    • pinkhawk profile image

      pinkhawk 4 years ago from Pearl of the Orient

      I have to remember these tips! ^_^ Thank you!

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
      Author

      Annette R. Smith 4 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Hello, Yvonne. I've tried to share some helpful tips for those who find it hard to strike up a conversation. Many thanks for reading my article and sharing your feedback. I appreciate your thoughtful comments and kind remarks.

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 4 years ago from UK

      When I was young, I used to feel shy and find it hard to talk to people I knew only a little. These tips are vary useful, particularly those which suggest focusing on the other person - listening, showing interest, asking questions - any of these are very effective.

      I also think it's useful for a shy person to look at the beliefs that create that feeling of shyness, and to let these go. Your suggestion of visualisation is one way to do this, and there are many other methods.

      Great hub.

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
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      Annette R. Smith 4 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Thanks, Jing. I appreciate the comment.

    • jing-xy profile image

      Jing 4 years ago

      Great article with good advice.

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
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      Annette R. Smith 4 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      You're welcome, Dilip Chandra. And thank you for the compliments! I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

    • dilipchandra12 profile image

      Dilip Chandra 4 years ago from India

      This is a great article. Well written, good tips and very well organized. I like it. Thanks for the above good read.

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
      Author

      Annette R. Smith 4 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Hi, moonlake. I'm so glad you found this hub! I appreciate your feedback and the vote up. Best wishes for a blessed and beautiful new year!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      I am very shy. I have a hard time starting a conversation. I have no trouble if someone speaks to me first and many people will just start talking to me in a store. If I go to a party where I know few people I have problems with that. I can never think of anything to say. I always feel I say the wrong things.

      Your hub has good advice. Voted up.

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
      Author

      Annette R. Smith 5 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Hi, midget38. So glad you enjoyed these conversation tips. Thank you for the shares!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Annette, this is great relationship advice! Now I'm sharing this with others!! I hope this helps the shy ones out there.

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
      Author

      Annette R. Smith 5 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Thank you, Miss Olive!

    • missolive profile image

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

      Hi Annette, these are wonderful tips for starting and maintaining a conversation. They will come in very handy for many people. Beautiful formatting too.

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
      Author

      Annette R. Smith 5 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Thank you, Mary. I appreciate your comment, and I do hope this article will be useful to many readers. Thank you for the votes and encouragement!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Nicely done Annette...I am in the other 50%, there isn't a shy bone in my body, but you've provided good tips and suggestions. For those that are shy, telling themselves they can do it and building their own self confidence is definitely key. I'm sure this will be useful to many.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
      Author

      Annette R. Smith 5 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Hi, Judith! I found the 50 percent statistic very interesting, too. I'm happy you found some help in my "conversation tips for shy people." Thank you for your votes and shares!

    • jcevans2009 profile image

      Judith C Evans 5 years ago from Boise, ID

      Very helpful hub! As a shy person, I found it encouraging to learn that 50 percent of Americans report shyness. It is true that it helps to focus on the other person, rather than my shyness. Voted up, awesome and sharing!

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
      Author

      Annette R. Smith 5 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      @teaches12345: What thoughtful and encouraging remarks! Thank you for stopping by ... and for the vote up.

      @Mellonyy: Your comment made me smile. Thank you for the votes and shares!

    • Mellonyy profile image

      Mellonyy 5 years ago

      What a stylish hub! So nice and full with useful information! Voted and shared!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I voted this one up for the great content and suggestions. I used to be so shy in high school and applying some of your tips would have made me more confident and outgoing. Very well done!

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
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      Annette R. Smith 5 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Hi, Penlady! Thank you for your thoughtful comment, votes and shares.

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
      Author

      Annette R. Smith 5 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

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

    • penlady profile image

      penlady 5 years ago from Sacramento, CA

      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.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 5 years 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.

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
      Author

      Annette R. Smith 5 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Hello, Simon. Thank you for your kind words!

    • Simon Lam profile image

      Simon Lam 5 years ago

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