How to Overcome Shyness: The 5 Keys of Making Conversation

David - About Mindset - July 15, 2019

This article presents many techniques to overcome shyness and increase social confidence during a conversation. They all come from my ook about overcoming shyness.

I have chosen to focus on the art of making conversation since it is what most shy people are bad at, and scared of. It is an important part of meeting people and getting to know them better.

On top of that, making conversation is a skill which you can sharpen even if you are good at it. It is not only about shy people, but about connecting with others in general. Find more here.

Table of Contents
How to Overcome Shyness: The 5 Keys of Making Conversation - Illustration - Picture

1. Elaborate

You feel comfortable only with the people you know. And you know them because you have asked them questions which they have replied to using personal facts and details.

The process is identical when others want to build rapport with you. They ask questions, and they implicitly expect you to elaborate and tell about yourself.

Talk about yourself, your past, your tastes, and everything else that defines you. Do not be secretive.

- How are you?

- Fine.

-- Wrong

- How are you?

- Great! I saw my sister this morning and we've been shopping for hours. What about you?

- Sounds good! My boyfriend and I went to the restaurant this afternoon. It was delightful.

-- Great

Stop using one-word replies.

Elaborate your points and talk about yourself.

Even if you are shy, don't be afraid of talking about your emotions and anecdotes. No one will ever reject you for doing that.

How to Overcome Shyness: The 5 Keys of Making Conversation - Illustration - Picture

2. Show Genuine Interest

You can't make conversation without showing interest. A conversation builds up when both interlocutors show mutual interest. Because they want to know each other better, they talk.

You can't fake interest, and you must truly want to know your counterpart better to make conversation. The goal is not to make your counterpart talk for hours. The goal is to get to know your interlocutor better, and vice versa.

You verbally achieve that by asking specific questions, showing excitement and reciprocity, and talking about personal anecdotes related to the currently discussed topic.

The secret is to focus on specific points evoked by your counterpart. It demonstrates you are listening carefully and paying attention to details.

You visually achieve that by making eye contact, having strong facial expressions, rubbing your chin, nodding slowly, and reacting with exclamations to show emotional involvement.

Usually, facial expressions happen by themselves when you are truly interested in what you are listening to.

Connect your interlocutor’s interests with yours.

Ask questions based on what your interlocutor talks about.

How to Overcome Shyness: The 5 Keys of Making Conversation - Illustration - Picture

3. Do Not Jump to Conclusions

Every person you meet is different. Do not judge them. Do not think for them. Do not transform what they say. And do not draw conclusions out of their words, at all costs.

People, including you and I, want their ideas to be respected and observed with objectivity. When you draw conclusions, you show excessive self-confidence despite the lack of knowledge you suffer from.

Your interlocutor, which you still do not know well, is the only person who can assess their own situation and make decisions. You must show humility and mind your own business. Even the tiniest conclusion can harm.

- I had an argument with my sister

- She must be wrong, you are a nice person

-- Wrong

- I had an argument with my sister

- May I ask, what happened? / Oh well, I hope it will get better.

-- Great

Treat everyone the same, and show respect and politeness.

Do not rush to conclusions. It is extremely rude and inappropriate.

How to Overcome Shyness: The 5 Keys of Making Conversation - Illustration - Picture

4. Enjoy Silence

You must manage to remain silent when your interlocutor is not talking. It shows confidence and it demonstrates your ability to enjoy the moment.

Making conversation is not all about talking. It is also about enjoying silence, looking at each other, smiling, and feeling complacent about your interlocutor’s presence.

Most conversations are made of everything but words. There is a significant amount of emotions behind facial expressions, body language, breathe, and so on.

Building a relationship through conversation happens behind the scene. Both interlocutors are talking, yet it is their brain that does the job of processing the whole sphere around it.

Side story: When I was shy, I used to feel awkward and uncomfortable when no one was talking. I believed that staring at each other and saying nothing was the worst situation I could put myself into. Because of that, I would often talk relentlessly to keep the conversation going, even if it would annoy my interlocutor. As time went, I understood that silence is to be appreciated.

How to Overcome Shyness: The 5 Keys of Making Conversation - Illustration - Picture

5. Shutdown Your Brain

You are shy and you are excellent at finding thousands of reasons to keep yourself from approaching strangers.

If you keep overthinking social interactions, you will never take the first step, and you will clutter your mind with illusory fears.

Be yourself and approach people without using your brain. Lean forward, approach your counterpart, and start speaking as if you were having a conversation with a friend.

Dive head first without wondering what could happen in hell.

Stop making up worries that turn you down before you even start.

Stop thinking.

How to Overcome Shyness: The 5 Keys of Making Conversation - Illustration - Picture

Wrap It Up

From now on, make it a priority to use all these subtle yet effective techniques to get the most out of your daily conversations.

Do not be afraid of making mistakes. Socializing is a skill just like reading and writing are. Mistakes are to be expected and you will improve through trial and error.

In the end, making conversation highly helps you overcome shyness.

Good luck!

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Corinne Reader

These are all great tips to combat shyness and build rapport with the people around you. I must admit, I was very shy growing up but it's not too bad now. The experiences I went through forced me to communicate so it was a matter of practice makes perfect.

David M. Author

Thanks a lot Corinne! You made a good point. Just like many things, overcoming shyness requires practice and efforts.

Ivana Reader

I like the last point you talked about. Taking action before we start overthinking it is great advice. From my own experience, overthinking often gets me to analysis - paralysis state where I think so much that I end up doing nothing about it. What you said really resonated with me, that's something I'm working on.

David M. Author

Thanks for your feedback Ivana! I can relate and I can tell how frustrating this kind of situation is. It's like everything is happening in our brain, yet it can't go out to happen in reality. Good luck working on it!

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