January 28, 2013 by LMLRN.COM
Before we start, I have to let you know that this is a process, and it will take a lot of practice. You will need to fight through many comfort zones and overcome a lot of barriers that you have placed on yourself. Being shy is a condition that for most people has been created during their childhood. To a certain extent, some people are introverted but this is not the same as being shy. Shyness is defined here as a fear of talking to people and expressing yourself. We all have a desire to express ourselves, and the fear of talking to people is completely unjustified. So here is a list compiled from personal experience and observations. Here we go:
1. Say Hi to strangers
From the moment you leave your place, start acknowledging people and saying hi. It’s to be expected that if you come across one other person, you are meant to say hello. It doesn’t have to be a full conversation, and at times, even a simple head nod will do. Its friendly and you are bound to get a positive response. This doesn’t always have to be the case, but if the situation feels right, a simple hello will start the process to open you up to strangers.
2. Converse with customer service reps
They are there to give you great service and a part of that is to make conversation with you. It can be a bank teller or a coffee barista and because it’s what they do all day long, they will be more open to conversing with you. Keeping it to general chit chat is best. This can lead to more conversations in the future if you wish or as a process to practice conversing with strangers.
3. Talk to everybody
I don’t mean every single person you see on the street. This is more regarding people you are in a physical location with such as a supermarket, coffee shop, school, grocery store, bus stop….The list goes on. It can be about anything, but keeping the conversation about something you genuinely care about is best to make sure you don’t seem fake. Usually this will be more about something that is relevant to what is happening around you at that moment. Most people will be open to a ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ and if they are not, you can simply move on. This is only practice and if you come across someone who isn’t open to talking, go find someone else. You’ll never see them again anyway.
4. People watch
Might sound weird, but there is nothing wrong with it at all, especially if you live in a large city. People will go about their business and have conversations with their friends oblivious to you sitting and observing life. You will notice people interacting with each other and strangers talking to one another. This will give you more confidence to go ahead and do the same as well as making you realise there are plenty of other awkward people out there who are practicing, just like you are.
5. Spend as much time out as possible
You’re not going to learn how to interact with people by staying in all day. This may sound obvious but surrounding yourself with people and putting yourself in positions where you have to interact will help you dramatically. It will seem scary at first, but this is the best way to get you out of your comfort zone. Take evening classes if you have to but whatever it is, get yourself out there.
6. People don’t care
Most shyness comes from the fact that we think we are being judged. This could be from the fact that you judge people as you go about your day, so therefore you think others do the same, or because of an experience you had growing up. Either way, most people don’t care about you. They are mostly caught up in what theyre doing, and they don’t care whether you are awkward or shy. They will forget about anything you say and do almost instantly. As you people watch, you will notice this and realising this can, for some people, be a big moment.
As I hinted to earlier, in most western countries, talking to strangers is not generally done. Its best to keep to yourself and get on with things. In contrast, in most eastern and developing countries, this is not the case. During a trip to India, I noticed that almost everybody spoke to everybody as if they knew each other. Most men called each other ‘Brother’ even if they had never met. They would ask questions, comment on what they were seeing or just asking each other how they are. There is no social stigma to talking to strangers and its so widely done that it can be eye opening. By getting out there and seeing the world, you will expose yourelf to many other cultures and customs that are much more socially orientated than the western style of sticking to yourself. Our aim will be to find a balance, so by observing this, you will be able to implement a fraction of what you see to your everyday life.