My handy trick for overcoming shyness

We've all been there at some point -- whether at home, school, or in the house of someone we just met.

We become shy. We clam up. We have nothing to say. It leads others to assume we're shy, antisocial, even self-absorbed.

As I've mentioned in other posts, sometimes it takes a real, concerted effort to get myself to talk to people. I try to avoid chit chat at all costs. Whether it's because I am tired or just not in the mood to gab, shutting myself from the world is all too tempting.

Completely isolating yourself from everyone, though, is not feasible, especially when you work in Corporate America. Good communication skills are a requirement for most every job that calls for interacting with employees and/or clients.

But this isn't exclusive to the work world. There are also the family get-togethers and other occasions that can drive the shy and introverted batty.

I've come up with a technique that can help me better tolerate these situations.

You know those people who constantly ask, "Why are you so quiet?" Well, you can preempt that by doing something as simple as singing aloud lines from one or more of your favorite songs. (This presupposes that you know at least a few of the lyrics.) They can't get on your case for being quiet because, technically, you're talking.

If this isn't an option, you can come out of your shell by talking about something of interest to you. Let's say your two co-workers are talking about something that's boring you dry -- say, shopping or home repairs.

Why not interject and change the subject to discuss something YOU find interesting -- like sports or politics?  It might cause others to drop out of the conversation if they can't relate to whatever it is you're talking about, but at least you've put yourself in a favorable position -- you've essentially taken control of the conversation.

I have found that it's easier to come out and contribute to a conversation when it's something I care about -- whether it's animal welfare, world hunger, art, or poetry -- and not about me personally. But I let others pick and talk about the subject at length, it leads me to recoil and lose interest.

Try out this technique the next time you find yourself reluctant to contribute to a conversation -- either out of sheer boredom, or because you're too shy to speak out. The quicker you do it, the better. Thinking it over too much leads to inaction. And you'll see that the more often you do it, the easier it gets. It serves to disarm those who are inclined to label you as quiet or introverted. Practice makes perfect!

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