So I’ll start by telling a little about my personal experience in this field to validate any advice I give.
I’m a bookworm. Pure and simple. I’ve loved reading since I was a itty bitty kindergartner (to the extent that I was once banned from going to the library in fifth grade). My classmates in elementary school depended on me to get them the highest class reading average so that we could get an ice-cream party. The librarian loved me. I wore a blue jacket everyday, my hair was in a perpetual ponytail, and I had one close friend and a few pals. I preferred imaginary worlds to the real one, and my vocabulary advanced significantly. I had a sarcastic edge, and I wasn’t particularly infatuated with the latest trend, such as holey jeans.
Naturally, this did not make me well liked. So it depends on what type of problem you suffer from. You can be a loner by design, you may think that you have a wonderful personality that will wow the world if only you had the pluck to show it. I had a somewhat unusual category. When I started high school, I did it for ‘political’ reasons. I vowed that I’d have many, many allies and not develop strong bonds with any particular people.
Talk about crash and burn. I mean, sure I have many allies, acquaintances, people I wave at or compliment, but I also have a group of friends that keeps me grounded and sane. My teacher’s either love me or hate me, depending on their standing on student’s who back talk and argue.
So, here is my advice:
Category #1 of Shyness: The One Who can’t Speak in Front of People:
- First off, know that you’re not alone. It may come as a surprise to you, but a lot of ‘popular’ or outspoken people are generally terrified of saying something wrong, a verbal misstep. You’re not in the minority.
- Make eye contact. It makes you seem confident and sure. Most people cannot maintain eye contact for very long, so just patiently watch (don’t stare at them though; that’s creepy)
- Pretend you are in a movie or a book. Most people have a character or a person that they admire. Imagine that you have their charisma and strength of mind. This will allow you to stop feeling self- conscious.
- Speak loudly and clearly. The idea isn’t in how much you say, but how you say it. Stay calm and tranquil, and really listen to them. Most people obsess while someone is talking to them, worried that there is a booger coming out to say hello, or if the jeans you are wearing are completely out of date, and worried that they will notice that gross stain on your shirt. DO NOT OBSESS. They’re probably as self-conscious as you are.
- Focus on one person. If you’re talking in front of a group and the many faces nauseates you, focus on one person you are comfortable with and pretend she is the only one listening.
- Try to make the other person talk more. Ask them insightful questions and ask about their lives. By the end of the conversation, they will leave feeling that you are a great listener, and wonder more about the you, the mysterious and aloof guy/girl.
- Be yourself! Don’t be fake and something you’re not. You won’t pull it off and will leave you disappointed.
Category #2 of Shyness: The One Who Turns Into Raj When Confronted
- Calm yourself! Wonder: Hmm, why should I be nervous around ____? Why shouldn’t they be nervous around me?
- Smile. It’s a great starter to anything, and will make the person feel more at ease.
- Make small talk. Ask their opinions about controversial topics and laugh frequently.
- Think twice before you talk. Being a babbler myself, I know that nerves can step that motor mouth a’ runnin’. If you let yourself just ramble, you will be monopolizing the conversation, and possibly confusing and boring them.
- Sometimes it helps if you have a little meditation thingermabob. You can tap you finger against the table (use the flesh so you don’t make noise and annoy anyone), fiddle with a pencil, twist a lock of hair, etc. This helps focus you a little and keep you from succumbing to “Oh-shit-oh-shit-oh-shit’ mentality of nerves.
- Remember that you want to leave them with a certain impression of you. So be inquisitive and thoughtful
Category #3 of Shyness: The One Who Usually Comes Off as Offensive
- Don’t be a smart-ass. Quell any desire to make a sarcastic remark because while it may seem funny to you, it can be considered downright jerkish and hurt someone’s feelings.
- If you want to say something that can be considered offensive,say it about yourself. Example: “The winter makes people really bitchy. I’ve gotten grounded for screaming at my mother more times than I can count!” This is a subtle way of drawing the person’s attention to their ‘winter bitchiness’ or other questionable attribute. This will make them check themselves without you having to tell them to their face.
- Even if you find yourself wondering how someone could possibly be that (dumb, mean, insert adjective), keep in mind that it’s highly likely that you are that way to someone else. So even if you cen’t stand someone, be cordial and polite, and that’ll certainly give you bonus points.
- To my fellow teens, or parents of them, TALK IN CLASS. Not like turning in your seat to chat while the teacher is lecturing (which I have been in trouble several times for), but making conversation before the bell rings, raising your hand to answer a question, ask for clarification, or just to relate an experience of yours that is similar to the content you’re studying. You’ll build street-cred for having the guts to talk in front of a classroom, and it’s less likely you’ll tick off a teacher.
- Channel Betty White. She’s a seemingly sweet old lady who is majorly kick ass. You can do the exact same. Be friendly, care about people’s lives, and anchor yourself, but make sure them claws come out when their needed.
I hope I helped! I’m sure I’m missing a few categories, so just comment any you can think of. It’s time you stop worrying about intimidating people with your awesomeness. Go get ’em!!