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How Not to Be Shy: 12 Strategies for Confidently Socializing

Do you crave feeling more confident and comfortable when talking to people? If shyness is holding you back from making friends or excelling in your career, you’ll be glad to know that shyness is a learned behavior that needs changing! 

What does it mean to be shy?

What is Shyness?

Shyness is feeling reserved, nervous, or timid in the company of other people, according to the Oxford Dictionary.

Feeling shy in social interactions is more normal than you may think. Research shows that shyness is a universal phenomenon1,%2C%20Germany%2C%20India%20and%20Mexico. experienced by about 40% of people in the Western world and 60% of those in Eastern cultures. 

In fact, some of the most famous people are shy: Mark Zuckerberg’s COO says2 he is “shy” and “introverted,” Bill Gates is a self-proclaimed introvert, and Warren Buffet advises fellow introverts to push out of their comfort zone to overcome shyness. 

Fortunately, being shy is not a psychological disorder like social anxiety, but it still links to a greater risk for depression3 and social isolation. Unlearning shyness with a few behavioral shifts could radically transform your social life and mental health. 

Watch our video below to learn how to meet new people:

Disclaimer: We are honored to help you overcome shyness and forge deeper social connections! However, please note that the content in this article is not professional medical advice. If you are struggling with social anxiety, isolation, or mental health challenges, please consult with a licensed mental healthcare professional.

Here’s how to overcome shyness so you can experience more confident and enjoyable social connections.

Why Am I So Shy?

Even Beyonce used to be “very shy and a little awkward” and got made fun of by her peers.

Luckily, shyness is not a fixed personality trait. Shy people may have adopted certain habits of acting in social situations. With practice and gradual exposure to social situations, individuals can overcome shyness and develop greater confidence in their interactions.

Here’s why you might be shy:

Genetics and upbringing

Your childhood could have dramatically impacted how you interact with people. Research shows4 that an unstable environment or difficult behaviors from infancy to age six can dramatically affect shyness later in life. 

Other aspects of your upbringing could also have reinforced shy behaviors: 

  • If your parents were shy or not very social, you might have needed to have the proper modeling on how to interact with others confidently. 
  • Parental overcontrol links to5 higher instances of social anxiety.
  • If someone is bullying you in school, you might have become more reserved or timid as a means of coping.
  • If your household was unstable, you might have found it safer to remain quiet or detached.

There are also some studies6 on identical twins that have pointed to a certain “shy gene.” Research has also shown7 that about 30% of infants are born with brain structures that tend to be shyer. However, environmental factors have a far greater impact on shyness than genetic predisposition.  

Insecurity or lack of self-esteem

Shyness links to low self-esteem. When you don’t feel comfortable in your skin, it can be hard to form healthy relationships. This often leads to a deep fear of being judged or ridiculed by others, resulting in more social withdrawal. To truly overcome shyness, you may need to address underlying insecurity. 

Action Step: Growing your self-confidence takes time and patience. Learn How to Build Rock-Solid Self-Esteem in 8 Weeks (or less!).

Traumatic Social Experiences

There is a strong correlation between5 socially traumatic experiences and negative self-imagery. In fact, you can even experience PTSD8,and%20rejection%20in%20social%20situations. from humiliation and rejection.

For example, being mocked by peers after giving a speech in school or being publicly shamed in the workplace could create social trauma. While childhood bullying or exclusion are particularly harmful to the psyche, being socially humiliated at any age can lead to feelings of shyness. 

Psychologists use cognitive-behavioral therapy to help rescript these narratives around self-esteem when socializing.  

Lack of Social Skills

Schools and workplaces focus so heavily on technical skills that “soft skills” like socializing often fall by the wayside. You could be shy simply because you don’t know how to interact with people.

Action Step: Learn these 14 Essential Social Skills or watch the video below to stop feeling awkward when hanging out with people. 

12 Steps to Overcome Shyness

If you like being shy, then don’t change a thing! You do you, friend.

If you feel your shyness has held you back, then read on.

If most people are telling you all your life that you’re shy, overcoming shyness may seem daunting. Fortunately, with a little bit of observation, reflection, and practice, you can replace your “shy” social habits with self-assured social skills. 

#1 Stop self-identifying as “the shy one.”

Your words are powerful, especially when it comes to what you call yourself. Research on “narrative psychology” shows that the way you identify yourself can profoundly affect how you act in social situations. Do you ever hear yourself saying…

I’m such a _____.

I’m too ___.

I wish I weren’t ____.

This can actually change the way you think.

Many shy people openly present themselves as “shy” because they have woven this adjective into their identity. You might have created this story based on childhood or adolescent experiences or things you heard from others. 

Journaling Exercise: If you want to overcome shyness, it might help to begin creating a new story for yourself:

  • Write out when you’ve noticed yourself self-identifying as “shy” and question its truth. For example, I constantly tell myself I’m too shy to approach others at parties. My inner voice says that I’ll just fudge the conversation and embarrass myself… but is that really true? When has that happened? Did they really judge me that hard, or was it my insecurity? Maybe deep down, it’s just my excuse for not putting myself out there… I don’t want to be lonely, but I won’t ever be able to meet anyone if I don’t put myself out there. Continue writing for as long as needed.
  • Question where your shy stories have come from (maybe your mother always excused you from social situations by telling people, “Oh, don’t mind her/him, they’re just shy,” or perhaps a childhood friend ridiculed you for being awkward in front of a group of people).
  • Wait a few days, and then review your writing again. 
  • Consider how you can re-write this narrative. At the top of a page, write “This Is My New Story” and create a narrative for how you would approach a similar situation without being shy (for example, I feel totally relaxed when I approach random people at parties. I can be myself without fearing their judgment. After all, they are only human, and they probably aren’t paying much attention to my insecurities when they are so focused on my own. One conversation isn’t going to make-or-break my social life…)

Action Step: Eliminate the phrases “I’m shy” or “I’m awkward” from your vocabulary. Notice when you accidentally use this phrase to exclude yourself from socializing. 

Consider replacing it with a positive affirmation such as “I like meeting new people” or “I am confident.” Here are 120 Positive Daily Affirmations for Happiness (backed by science)!

#2 Replace shy habits with confident social skills

Once you realize that shyness results from small habits, you can start paying attention to the little things you do daily that make you feel and look shyer. 

People may be treating you differently simply because you act shy. Perhaps you avoid eye contact or talk really quietly. 

You may avoid social interactions altogether because you feel so shy and caught up in your thoughts. Maybe you appear closed off to conversation, are constantly on your phone, or keep headphones on. This behavior might stem from a deep-seated fear of judgment or rejection from others. 

Replacing shy habits with confident social skills involves seeking assistance from friends, family, or a therapist, which can prove immensely valuable in breaking free from the cycle of isolation. It’s essential to keep in mind that even small steps taken to engage in social interactions can yield substantial progress over time. This progress enables you to connect with others on a deeper level, ultimately allowing you to relish the enriching experiences that social interactions can bring into your life.

“Sometimes people use thought to not participate in life.”

— Stephen Chbosky, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower.

Remember that small efforts to engage in social interactions can lead to significant progress over time, allowing you to connect with others on a deeper level and enjoy the enriching experiences that social interactions can bring into your life.

To overcome shyness, you may need to replace these habits with more confident social skills. 

Replace these shy social habits with confident actions:

Shy Habits (Instead of this…)Confident Social Skills (Try this…)
Overthinking your social interactions Tell yourself “Everyone says awkward things sometimes and nobody is ruminating over what I did or said” 
Avoiding people in publicMake friendly eye contact or offer compliments to strangers 
Closed off body language (ex, earbuds in, negative facial expression, arms crossed, etc.)Signal that you want to socialize by turning your torso towards others, relaxing your arms, and putting a smile on your face.
Facing away from someone during a conversationTurn towards people to appear more interested and present
Using your phone in publicPut your phone away when in social situations. Grab a drink instead if you don’t know what to do with your hands.
Avoiding eye contactPractice holding eye contact (begin with people you feel comfortable around)
Speak quietlyTalk at a moderate volume.
Poor posture or trying to look “small.”Roll back your shoulders and stand up straight. Learn these 4 body language tips for introverts and shy people.
A rapid heart rate or sweaty palms before talking to someone newPractice deep breathing to relax your mind before socializing or carry around a handkerchief to wipe off the sweat
Harshly judging yourself after social interactionsWork to quiet your inner critic by changing your internal self-talk
Difficulty accepting complimentsSmile and say “thank you” when someone compliments you and consider complimenting them in return.

Pro Tip: One of the easiest ways to start practicing overcoming shyness is with local baristas, bartenders, waitresses, or other food service workers. These people interact with the public regularly and are typically quite easy to talk to. After all, it’s their job. Practice being less shy by saying “hello” to your barista and asking them how their day is.

#3 Model the habits of socially skilled people

Studying people is not only fascinating. It taps into your neurological framework to help you model the behaviors of outgoing people. 

Because shyness is behavior habit-based, you can gradually shift your actions by observing how socially confident people engage in conversations.

Speaking of great conversations, here’s a goodie you can use to level up your skills:

Unlock the Secrets of Charisma

Control and leverage the tiny signals you’re sending – from your stance and facial expressions to your word choice and vocal tone – to improve your personal and professional relationships.

There are many cues to learn, but the most important ones for overcoming your shyness are:

  • Postural Expansion: Maximize the space between your earlobes and shoulders. This is a signal of pride and confidence. It should also make it easier to take deep breaths. This both looks more confident and will help you FEEL more confident.
  • Slightly Higher Volume: Research has found that confident people tend to speak with a slightly higher volume when feeling passionate or engaged. If you agree with someone or want to make a point, imbue your words with confidence.
  • Ask open-ended questions: Confident people do not have to talk a lot; they have to ask the right questions. For example, notice how interview host Ellen Degeneres leads her social interactions with compliments. She asks a lot about the other person and focuses directly on them as they talk. She exudes authentic laid-back energy with open body language and good posture, her palms revealed, with plenty of eye contact and smiles while the other person talks. 

Action Step #1: Watch YouTube videos or TV Shows of highly social and well-liked people. Put yourself in the shoes of a scientist studying their behavior.

Action Step #2: Instead of zoning out or staring at your phone in public, start observing how socially skilled people interact around you:

Are they making strong eye contact?

What do their posture and body language look like? (Are they standing up straight and confident, or do they look more nervous and reserved?) Watch the video below about 4 Body Language Tips for Introverts and Shy People:

  • What is their tone of voice? Are they speaking quietly or more loudly?
  • Do they pause to think before speaking?
  • Do they give cues that they are interested in listening to the other person? (For example, nodding their head or saying “mhm” as the other person talks).

It’s a lot easier to overcome shyness when you take note of the social ingredients used by others and mix them into your habits and personality. Take note of how shy people act versus what socially confident people do. 

#4 Take 5 slow, deep breaths before social interactions

Whether you get sweaty palms, an increased heart rate, or butterflies in your stomach, it’s very common to feel nervous before socializing. Calming your body down before talking to someone new can help you feel more relaxed in conversation. 

In her book, The 5 Second Rule, motivational speaker and author Mel Robbins explains how the physiological responses of feeling anxious or nervous are the same as feeling excited. 

Your body goes into “fight or flight” mode and releases many stress hormones to try to protect you from a scary situation. But the truth is that socializing doesn’t need to be all that scary. 

It also helps to remember that most people are overanalyzing their social performance, and they probably weren’t even paying attention to little mishaps you may ruminate over in your head. Others may be wrapped up in their own worries, lessening their focus on your minor slip-ups. Everyone makes mistakes and has awkward moments occasionally, which can make you more relatable. Rather than fixating on these errors, prioritize being present, genuine, and compassionate in your interactions, as these qualities often outweigh minor mistakes.

“Shyness has a strange element of narcissism, a belief that how we look, how we perform, is truly important to other people.”

— Andre Dubus

In reality, people tend to focus on themselves in social situations.

Action Step: Instead of telling yourself, “I am so nervous to talk to my crush,” consider saying, “I am so excited to talk to this person.” Your body doesn’t actually know the difference. 

Next, take 5 slow deep breaths before approaching somebody for a conversation. Deep breathing is scientifically proven9 to reduce heart rate, decrease blood pressure, and activate the parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system. This helps get you out of “fight or flight” mode to feel calmer and less shy when socializing. 

After a conversation, you can repeat this exercise to help eliminate anxious thoughts like “What if I embarrassed myself?” or “Why did I say that?” Deep breathing reduces cortisol and stress in the brain, leading to a more peaceful feeling. 

#5 Use small talk to find common ground

Changing the way you think about shyness helps to change the way you approach conversations. If you are the type of person who wants to get right to the point or jump into deeper topics right away, you may be missing out on a crucial part of the social experience.

Small talk is like the appetizer and palette cleanser before a meal. It helps you settle into your place in the conversation and get a taste of how the other person will interact with you.

The best way to approach small talk is to find the similarities you have with others. This helps build intimacy and makes you feel more comfortable in conversation as if you are talking to someone like you (because most people are like you in some way or another). 

For example, in this video, Oprah directly connects with Amy Schumer by pointing out something she thinks they have in common. Ironically, their commonality is feeling introverted and shy at parties. They even joke about hiding in the bathroom! Seeking out common ground is an easy habit to incorporate into conversations so you feel less shy. 

Asking questions about the other person can often help ease the pressure on you to talk. 

Action Step: Lead with interesting conversation starters that you can gear into more expansive small talk:

  • Working on anything exciting lately?
  • How is that [drink/meal/artwork]? Use context clues to ask someone about the cocktail they ordered or the photograph they are looking at. 
  • What was the highlight of your day today?
  • How do you know the host? 

Check out our article on small talk or watch the video below to learn how to master the art of small talk. These skills can help you overcome shyness from the get-go. 

#6 Create a persona and dress the part

Like an actor on a stage, sometimes getting into the character of a socially confident person can help you conquer social shyness. 

Have you ever put on a sports uniform or a Halloween costume and felt yourself act like a different person? Psychologists termed the concept of “enclothed cognition10” to explain wearing certain clothes changes the way people think and act. 

When someone puts on a lab coat, their attentiveness to a task increases compared to wearing their normal clothes. When people put on workout gear, they feel more athletic and more inclined to work out.

You can use this psychology to create your persona or costume. Get out of your “shell” of shyness and put on a different outfit of courage and confidence. 

Action Step #1: Learn a powerful concept called the Alter Ego effect. Watch this video below to learn more:

10 Steps to Reinvent Yourself with the Alter Ego Effect

Action Step #2: Find an outfit that makes you feel and look like the most confident version of yourself. 

  1. Type “confident outfits for women” or “confident outfits for school” into Google
  2. Copy and paste your favorite photos into Canva to create a style inspiration board.
  3. Consider adding words and images that inspire your particular uniqueness, like “bohemian,” “creative,” “sleek,” “business,” or “boss.” 
  4. Save the style board as your phone screensaver
  5. Go to your local mall or shop online for similar pieces
  6. Try on some things you haven’t worn before, like brighter colors or unique patterns
  7. Experiment with different combinations of tops, bottoms, and shoes
  8. Add a unique accessory (for example, eye-catching earrings, your grandmother’s necklace, or a sleek belt you found on a recent trip) that may be a conversation starter
  9. Wear your new favorite outfit out to the next social event you attend

Remember, putting on a costume is not intended to cover up who you are. There is a balance between staying true to your authentic self and embodying who you want to be. 

An alter ego will not replace who you are deep down but rather give you the courage to act out differently. 

Crafting Your Social Persona: A Step-by-Step Guide

Guide #1. Define Your Persona

Prior to addressing social shyness, it’s essential to establish a clear vision for the persona you aspire to cultivate. Identify specific traits and qualities that you admire in socially confident individuals, such as being outgoing, friendly, and approachable.

Guide #2. Wardrobe Matters

Similar to how an actor carefully selects costumes to suit their character, choose clothing that reflects and enhances the persona you wish to project. Adapting your attire doesn’t necessitate a complete style overhaul, but it does involve opting for outfits that boost your confidence. 

Guide #3. Practice Body Language

Effective non-verbal communication plays a pivotal role in projecting confidence. To convey a confident image, work on adopting open and welcoming body language techniques. Focus on maintaining consistent eye contact, offering sincere smiles, and using gestures that reflect your increased self-assurance.

Guide #4. Adopt Positive Self-talk

Change your inner dialogue to align with the persona you want to embody. Replace self-doubt and negative thoughts with positive affirmations that emphasize your strengths and confidence. Imagine a conversation with your inner self, and when you encounter moments of self-criticism or negativity, make a conscious effort to replace them with uplifting affirmations.

Guide #5. Visualization Techniques

Enhance your social skills by mentally rehearsing successful interactions with confidence. This technique reduces shyness and boosts your readiness for real-life social situations. Create a vivid mental image of yourself in action, allowing this visualization to empower you.

#7 Join clubs or groups with shared interests

Simplify and enhance your social interactions by engaging with individuals who have similar interests as yours. Consider becoming a part of clubs, organizations, or online communities that align with your hobbies and passions, which can serve as a natural icebreaker and a solid foundation for initiating and sustaining meaningful conversations.

Action Step: Discover and join clubs or groups that align with your passions both online and in your local area. Start by exploring websites like for a wide range of interest-based groups, from hiking enthusiasts to book clubs. If you’re keen on professional networking, LinkedIn Groups can be a valuable resource. For those with artistic interests, check out local community centers or websites like Eventbrite for events and workshops. Don’t forget about Facebook Groups, which cater to almost every interest under the sun. Once you’ve found a group that resonates with you, attend their events or participate in online discussions. Make the most of these gatherings by initiating conversations with fellow members who share your interests. This proactive approach will not only enhance your knowledge and skills in your area of interest but also expand your social and professional networks.

#8 Embrace rejection

Shyness can hold us back in social settings due to the fear of rejection. Remember, rejection is a normal part of social life, and not everyone you meet will become a friend. Instead of seeing rejection as a failure, see it as a chance to grow and improve.

A study found that rejection can have social and psychological costs, including stress and coping difficulties. This study suggests that addressing rejection experiences and feelings may be beneficial for individuals who struggle with shyness. For people who are shy and often find it challenging to interact with others or face social situations, it could be helpful to actively confront and deal with past experiences of rejection and the emotions associated with them.

By opening up about rejection to trusted friends and family who can provide perspective and encouragement, it can shatter the silence that often surrounds it, reassuring individuals that they’re not alone in their experiences and fostering a supportive network where they can find comfort and guidance.

Action Step: After any social rejection, create a “Rejection Journal.” Journaling allows you to sort through your thoughts and feelings and make sense of them. By doing so, you can identify any limiting beliefs or negative thought patterns that may be holding you back. Writing down the situation, your emotions, and any lessons learned and regularly reviewing and reflecting on these entries will help you become more comfortable with rejection and learn valuable lessons from each encounter, ultimately boosting your confidence and social skills. Journaling can be a powerful tool for dealing with rejection.

Watch this video for more important tips!

Here are some helpful tips on how to embrace rejection:

  • Acknowledge that rejection is a normal part of socializing. Embrace the fact that rejection is a common aspect of human interaction, and even the most socially adept individuals experience it.
  • Set Realistic Expectations by recognizing that not every encounter or connection will lead to a deep friendship or meaningful relationship, and that’s perfectly normal.
  • Learn and adapt by viewing rejection as a chance to gain insights into your social skills and interactions. Ask yourself what you can learn from each rejection to improve your future interactions.
  • Build inner resilience by cultivating self-awareness and focusing on your personal strengths and qualities, which can bolster your self-esteem and resilience in the face of rejection.
  • Channel rejection into motivation by using rejection as a source of motivation to persist in pursuing your social goals. Let each rejection fuel your determination to connect with people who align with your values and interests.

“Rejection is not a reflection of your worth; it’s an opportunity to redirect your path.”

— Oprah Winfrey

#9 Visualize success

Visualization can be a powerful tool for boosting confidence. Before entering a social situation that makes you nervous, take a moment to visualize yourself confidently engaging in conversations and enjoying the interaction. This mental rehearsal can help reduce shyness and improve your performance.

Several sources support the idea that visualization can be a powerful tool for boosting confidence. One study11 suggests that visualization can be used to build confidence, particularly in areas such as sports or teaching.

Further research12 investigates how exactly just imagining future success can enhance people’s motivation to achieve it and found that people feel more motivated to succeed on a future task when they view their actions from a third-person perspective (ie. “Harold succeeds at giving his TED Talk” vs. “I succeed at giving my TED Talk.”

Action Step: Find a quiet spot to practice beforehand. Before a nerve-wracking social situation, seek out a quiet spot nearby, like a restroom or a secluded corner, where you can briefly visualize success. Try imagining in the third person. This will help you focus and build confidence for the upcoming interaction.

#10 Practice self-compassion

Overly criticizing yourself can intensify shyness and social anxiety. Promote self-compassion by extending the same kindness and understanding you’d give a friend—no harshness, just gentle, caring words. Experiencing shyness is part of being human, and the more you accept your shyness, the lesser your judgment on it will be.

Action Step: Start a daily self-compassion journal. Write down moments of shyness or social anxiety. Replace self-criticism with self-kindness. Also, practice loving-kindness meditation to develop lasting self-kindness. Want more tips on self-compassion? Check out our article: 10 Powerful Tips You Can Use to Practice Self-Compassion

#11 Take improv classes

While it’s important to start small, gradually pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone is equally important. Identify specific situations that trigger your shyness and challenge yourself to face them. Once identified, actively challenge yourself to confront these situations, even if it initially feels uncomfortable.

For example, if speaking in public is a source of shyness, start by practicing in front of a mirror, then gradually progress to speaking in front of a trusted friend or family member. This approach allows you to build confidence and familiarity over time, making it easier to face more challenging situations as you progress.

Remember that personal growth is a journey, and each step you take toward overcoming shyness brings you closer to a more confident and fulfilling social life.

Action Step: Enroll in improvisational theater classes or workshops13 that offer practical tools to boost spontaneity and adaptability in social settings, such as taking the initiative to research and enroll in a local improvisational theater class. These classes boost social confidence by developing spontaneity and adaptability in a fun way.

One powerful way to overcome shyness is to immerse yourself in real-life situations that challenge you to communicate effectively. However, keep in mind that taking things slowly and steadily can be much more beneficial than taking things at 110%. Pace yourself by starting a small improv session with one or two friends and slowly work your way up.

#12 Do Not Forget to “Reward yourself”

Consider establishing a “Progress Board” (more on that below). This visual reminder can serve as a source of motivation and empowerment, encouraging you to continue pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone.

This practice not only strengthens your self-esteem but also reinforces the notion that growth and progress are continuous processes. Over time, as you observe your bulletin board filling up with accomplishments, you’ll gain a renewed sense of belief in your ability to conquer shyness and face life’s challenges with increasing confidence and enthusiasm.

Action Step: Create a “Progress Board” to track and celebrate every step you take outside your comfort zone. Display your achievements on sticky notes or cards, review them regularly, and draw motivation from your visual progress. Arrange these notes on a dedicated bulletin board or wall in your living space. Regularly review and take the time to reflect on the journey you’ve embarked upon. 

Is Shyness a Trait That Needs to Be Changed?

According to psychologists and cognitive-behavioral experts14, shyness should only be treated if it leads to social anxiety. Otherwise, it’s considered a typical personality type that doesn’t require correction.

The urge to “fix” shyness often arises from the discomfort it may cause in others. However, addressing shyness is only necessary if the shy person themselves perceives it as problematic in areas like work, relationships, or daily functioning. Maybe you’ve heard some of these phrases:

  • “Just come out and say hi!”
  • “You don’t have to be so anti-social”
  • “It’s rude, you know?”
  • Or worse, “Why are you so shy?”

If you have ever experienced shyness during your childhood, you can probably relate. Some often believe they’re being helpful, but their well-intentioned efforts can sometimes backfire.

Some people tend to assume that shy people are simply scared and need a gentle poke to join in the fun. But in reality, there are times when you genuinely want to be part of the excitement, and there are other times when you’d rather not.

And that’s why we should tackle it.

What is the Difference Between Shyness, Introversion, and Social Anxiety?

There are three intriguing terms—introversion, shyness, and social anxiety—that often mingle in conversation as if they were inseparable companions.

While shyness is a learned behavior that causes mild discomfort in social situations, introversion is a personality type of people who get overstimulated by too much social interaction. On the other hand, social anxiety is a clinical disorder defined by extreme anxiety in socializing.

Imagine a shy person hesitating before meeting someone new; it’s a momentary unease. Now, picture someone with social anxiety who can dwell on an upcoming social event for weeks, self-criticize relentlessly, lose sleep over it, and even endure physical symptoms like sweating, trembling, or breathlessness when in the thick of it.

Many people get shyness, introversion, and social anxiety confused, so here are the key differences.

Shyness: Shyness is a learned behavior. There is an initial feeling of discomfort around new people that dissipates over time as you get to know them. Typically, shyness does not lead to15 the extreme distress experienced by those with social phobia or social anxiety. Both extroverted and introverted people can feel shy in certain situations. 

When working with some people who identify as the “shy one”, it is important to assess what motivates or drives their shyness tendencies. Does it energize them or weigh them down? Do they genuinely seek out solitude or is it a result of avoidance and fear? Understanding this is like unlocking a valuable roadmap, which acts as a practical compass for the transformative process of how to understand “shyness.”

Introversion: People with this personality type tend to get overstimulated by excessive socializing and need time alone to regain energy. They are more focused on internal feelings rather than external stimuli. Unlike extroverted individuals, introverts tend to feel a bit drained after social interactions rather than stimulated by them. 

They may or may not have confident social skills or experience shyness. Like shy people can improve their social skills, introverted people can be excellent at conversing with others. They may just need time to themselves to recoup afterward.

Social Anxiety or Social Phobia: A well-defined clinical disorder16 characterized by extreme anxiety in social scenarios and persistent fear of being humiliated, judged, or rejected in social situations. This distress and anxiety are often out of proportion to the scenario (for example, an intense fear of asking a question in a meeting) and interfere with daily living. 

Best-case ScenarioShyness can lead to increased empathy and active listening.Introverts tend to excel in focused, solitary activities.Anxiety can heighten vigilance and preparedness.
Possible negative ImpactExtreme shyness may limit social connections and opportunities.Might result in isolation or social disconnection.Severe anxiety can disrupt daily functioning and well-being.

**Remember that these traits exist on a spectrum, and individuals can exhibit a combination of characteristics from each category. It’s essential to recognize and understand these traits to navigate social encounters and personal development effectively.

Action Step: If you feel like you are dealing with a mild or moderate case of social anxiety, watch this video below with 6 tips you can use to start overcoming social fear now.


Curious about whether you might be dealing with social anxiety? This brief assessment, Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale, can provide valuable insights!

Find Your Social Superpower

Feeling shy really comes down to a series of behaviors that you’ve repeated over your lifetime, and shyness is also a great indicator that you care about others.

Thankfully, socializing is a skill. Just like learning an instrument or a new sport, you can practice overcoming shyness in your daily life if you really find it problematic. And, you can learn to find a way to socialize that best fits your strengths. 

There are also several tools in your toolbox:

  1. Stop identifying as the shy one. Use journaling to sort through the origins of this perception of yourself. Try eliminating the phrase “I’m shy” from your vocabulary and re-writing the narrative around your social identity. 
  2. Use deep breathing and a shift in internal talk to get out of “fight or flight” mode and into a relaxed state before socializing. Socially anxious thoughts are often a result of raised cortisol during and after a social interaction. Remember that people are probably not as focused on your social mishaps as you are. 
  3. Observe socially adept people and take note of how they interact with others. If you constantly hang out around other shy people, you may not get the chance to study how confident people socialize. 
  4. Remember that shyness is a result of repeated behaviors. Replace your shy habits with confident ones. For example, speak a little louder instead of lowering your voice. Roll back your shoulders and relax your arms instead of appearing crossed and hunched over. 
  5. Embrace the art of small talk as a “warm-up” for your conversations. Ask questions about the other person to ease the pressure on you to talk. 
  6. Visualize a less-shy, more confident version of yourself. Create a persona around who you want to be and dress the part. 

While shyness isn’t always something to be extremely concerned about, it can prevent you from building connections with others when you desire closeness. If your shyness makes it hard for you to build the close relationships you’d like to have, consider connecting with a therapist who can help you get more insight into the underlying factors, set achievable goals, and work toward self-acceptance. A therapist can help identify the causes of shyness, like past experiences, self-esteem, or social fears.

If shy introverts like Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg can become successful with people, so can you. Here are 8 Ways to Make Introversion Your Superpower.

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