Overcoming Shyness and Social
inaccurately called 'social phobia'), affects most people at
some time in their life. Young people in particular find
overcoming shyness difficult as they improve their social
skills. And for some, shyness seems to persist into adult
life, almost as if it has become a 'habit'.
Shyness has its roots in self consciousness and usually
dissipates as people mature and become more experienced.
However, for some it can 'stick', and then action is
Although most people think in terms of 'overcoming shyness',
it is more likely that you will become comfortable in social
situations by learning the strategies of self confidence
along with social skills. Then, shyness is no longer the
issue, as social nerves will melt away as a new 'habit'
takes their place.
Shyness versus Social Phobia
It is my personal opinion that social phobia is too often
diagnosed where people are simply experiencing natural
shyness. It is perfectly natural to be a little timid in a
situation where you don't yet know the 'rules', or what to
do. In fact, most people experience some degree of nerves
when, say going to meet friends, especially if it is
somewhere they haven't been before, or someone new will be
We have to be very careful not to assume that there is
something wrong with this. Social nerves are natural, as
long as they don't get out of hand. Focusing on them and
making them into a 'big thing' will only make matters worse.
When learning about social situations, young people need the
chance to find their own way, without being labeled with
'social phobia'. This is not to say that social phobia does
not exist; I know it does because I have worked with people
suffering from it. However, in the vast majority of cases,
the solution is social skills training, and perhaps
relaxation and rehearsal, rather than drugs.
If a person can maintain a degree of calmness in a
situation, then they are much more likely to be able to
learn about how the situation works. However, if they are
highly anxious and internally focused, both their emotional
state and focus of attention will make it more difficult to
pick up on subtle social cues.
The other key point about overcoming shyness is that most of
socialising is an unconscious process. That doesn't mean you
should be asleep when you're doing it (tell that to people I
speak to at parties ;-), it simply means that much of human
communication is non-verbal. That is, 'it's not what you
say, it's the way that you say it'.
If you become highly anxious, this will tend to focus your
conscious mind on your immediate environment, getting in the
way of those unconscious processes.
Tips For Overcoming
Check out the tips in the
article on self consciousness, particularly the ones to do
with where you focus your attention.
fascinated by other people. Ask them about themselves,
and concentrate when they answer you. Remember what they
tell you about themselves so you can talk about it
later, or on another occasion.
Great socialisers make
other people feel comfortable and interesting. How do
they do that? By being really, genuinely interested in
other people. If you are talking to someone and you feel
boring or inferior, ask why that is. Is it really all
Practise using fewer
'personal pronouns' when you talk about things.
Sentences beginning with 'I' are not only a turn-off for
the listener, they also keep the focus of attention on
you, which increases shyness. (Note: Of course, part of
friendship is giving away things about yourself, but
only when you feel it is appropriate to do so.)
Remember that the way to
overcome shyness is to focus elsewhere. Like on
imagining what it will be like to really enjoy the
social event, on how it will feel to be full of energy,
or to be having a great conversation with someone.
The exercises and techniques
contained within the Self Confidence Course should help with
shyness because they focus on what to do to feel confident,
rather than how to avoid feeling shy.
Overcoming shyness is about doing the things that allow you
to enjoy social situations, not wondering why you feel shy!
Good luck and I hope this article has been useful.