7 Strengths Shy People Have

Posted by Donald Latumahina 58 Comments

Note: This is a guest post from Dan Stelter of Anxiety Support Network

Shy peopleWhile many people, including socially anxious and shy people themselves, consider shyness to be in general a weakness, there are in fact several strengths this condition brings about. The strengths themselves go against what is considered to be the standard convention, which is why they do not appear to be strengths. Following are seven of these apparent weaknesses, and how, when used right, they are actually strengths.

1. Cautious thinking. While cautious thinking can really hold you back when you need to act quickly at times, it can also be a great strength. Say you encounter a really difficult problem at work. If you make a snap or reactionary decision, you can find yourself in a world of trouble fast. Sometimes, thinking things through for a few days and considering them from multiple different angles is in fact the best route.

2. Meekness can make you approachable. If you appear to be an ordinary joe, people can feel more comfortable in approaching you at work or a social gathering. While being meek is not necessarily praised in Western society, it can be a social strength. Compare this to a person who is really aggressive and outspoken – no one wants to go near that guy.

3. Being quiet leads to a calming effect on others. Other people will notice that you do not say a whole heck of a lot, and very often they choose to view shy people as simply being more calm. In American society, where people are more often rewarded for “tooting their own horn,” being quiet and calm can have a profound positive impact on other people.

4. Appearing vulnerable is great for certain jobs. Shy people appear to be vulnerable and easily taken advantage of by others, which can be the case in work environments that reward the most aggressive competitors. However, for various human-service-oriented jobs such as working with mentally disabled people, counseling, or therapy, appearing vulnerable causes other people to open up to you more, which is a great benefit to have in your life if you are going to be successful in these lines of work.

5. Shy people can appear to others to be innocent or good. In many situations in life, it is better to be the innocent or good person, rather than the outgoing and dominant person. Socially, people may respect you more than the aggressive and dominant individual, which leads to them having a stronger trust in you. In many cases, having an innocent or good appearance can be a great trait to have for an up-and-coming leader.

6. Shy people tend to be more believable. In comparison to people who are aggressive and outgoing who may be viewed as more self-serving, shy people, because of the “good guy” impression they make on others, are more trusted and believable. Though it is scary for them, shy people can become effective public speakers and leaders for this reason.

7. Being shy teaches us from an early age how to overcome barriers. From an early age, Gandhi was a very shy person. In fact, even as a lawyer in his early 30s, he was so shy that he could barely speak in front of a judge. He was obviously very unsuccessful, until he found the right cause. Shy people, because they have a barrier that holds them back from things most others enjoy with ease, are taught how to overcome those barriers. Once you learn how to overcome your shyness, every other barrier in life will be easy in comparison.

There you have it – 7 great strengths that shy people have. It’s amazing, how, when you really sit down and think about certain things in life, they have positives too. So, I urge you to sit down and think about your shyness. Even though it causes problems at times, it has great strengths as well. What are those great strengths for you?

Dan Stelter is the author of the Anxiety Support Network, an anxiety recovery blog dedicated to reinventing the way people think about anxiety disorders.

Photo by Auntie K


Categories: Relationship

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  • http://www.journeytopeak.com Jia Jun

    Wow, I never gather up or read up what’s the strengths shy people have.
    As me myself is shy since young, but I know the important of social and communication, so I keep trying to break through my wall of shyness and interact with people, be sociable.
    Yet I think shy people can have more time with themselves, and focus on doing things.
    Like me, writing blog posts for my blog. Haha

    • alya chaima

      wow i am ashy person and i face a trouble that i can’t easly contact with other

  • http://yourethedeepestperson.blogspot.com Joanne Pilkington

    I’ve considered before how sensitivity can work to your advantage, and some of those ways were similar to what you’ve written about here.

    But I’ve never considered shyness to be a good thing. I like Number 3. “Being quiet leads to a calming effect on others.” best, probably because I don’t consider myself really to be shy any more, just quiet.

    • Maddie

      Sorry to say this guys but there is NOTHING positive about being shy. I am 17 and meant to be having the time of my life, however I am sitting on this website reading lame articles about shyness. I am by no ways nerdy or ugly, but I’ve never had a boyfriend and I can count my few friends on one hand. Although Guys like me they can never tell me because they find me stuck up and unapprochable…I have never found a bennifit of being shy and never will!

      • Jen

        I agree. I have always hated being shy. I have a great sense of humor but nobody knows cause I’m to shy to show who I really am.

      • sarah

        That is just Rude

  • http://www.Mazzastick.com Justin | Mazzastick

    I would rather spend my time with a quiet shy person than an obnoxious jack^%^.

    I believe that in Japan the shy ones are more popular.Being outgoing is a cultural thing especially in America.

    • dennis teel

      people in america are so aggresive that ssnesitivity and shyness seem almost extinct.i’m shy and a male which isn’t usually acceptable in groups and makes it very hard to meet people/.sensitivity is a part of shyness and it’s a shame that society has lost such a charcteristic.it pretty much indicates to me that society is on a downhill trot and i fear to see what the world is like in say,about 5 or 10 years from now.

      • emily

        i want to die

  • http://www.anxietysupportnetwork.com/ Dan

    Thanks for your comments and glad that I could challenge the conventional thinking!

  • http://unlockthedoor.net Stuart

    Nice read Dan, thanks for sharing your view-point. Too often, we fail to look at things from other perspectives.

    I agree especially with the benefit of quietness. Too often, we focus on the noise to keep us occupied, rather than focussing on the quiet. Those who can provide natural quiet can be of great benefit to those who are seeking a break from the relentless noise of modern life.

    Everyone has value to spare :-)

  • http://www.balancedworklife.com/blog Bryce Christiansen

    I used to be shy growing up and each of those points were definitely true. I had a calming effect on others and people definitely saw me as innocent.

    Now I’m kind of a mixed bag. I’m not too shy to go meet new people to network with and I love to get all my friends together and catch up, but at work I tend to be more quiet and focused on getting work done.

  • http://ireneyachan.wordpress.com Irene Chan

    This is a great post! I’ve never thought being shy can have its benefits. I’ve always been told that I’m too shy in front of strangers and I need to be more outgoing and “approachable”. After reading this post, I’ll definitely use it for my advantage. Thanks for the post!

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  • Shreyas

    For the first time in my life I felt good for being shy. Till now I had never heard good things about shyness. Every where in public I get embarrased.
    After reading this article I think its not bad being shy. If one want he/she can overcome it slowly.

  • http://i-will-overcome-shyness.com Allison at Overcome Shyness

    Interesting strengths.. some of these I would have never considered before! I slightly disagree with the benefit of appearing vulnerable, but the other strengths are interesting, indeed. Especially the last one – once you overcome shyness, you can overcome anything!

  • http://www.bizmum.com Rebecca

    Wow Dan, you see the greatness in all things. Like Yin and Yang, where there is a disadvantage there must be an advantage born.

    Once the strengths in shyness is actually thought of as an advantage then it must be so! I can just imagine myself as a child being given a chance at getting rations because I was so shy.

  • Shamira Motoj

    I am naturally shy, and ths is starting to pose a problem to a few of my colleague in my new job, although it was not issue in my previous jobs. Despite performing well at work, my boss called a meeting with me a few days ago to complain about my shyness. He wants me to be outgoing, crack jokes, talk with colleagues more, and “offer for help” when I don’t have much work. I did not appreciate his comments at all. Although he talked to me in a very friendly manner, it was like a coded message that he does not like my personality and wants me to leave the company.

    • http://www.weheartit.com/CloudSurfer73 Simi

      lmao “and wants me to leave the company”
      I don’t think it’s that serious, he just wants you to feel connected to other colleagues so you can work together.
      I realized that when I’m in nature or I go out to a park, I feel much more carefree and outgoing so it might help to get outside with a colleague into a more natural setting…without the confines of the building walls.

      BE HAPPY! Don’t worry! :D

  • http://www.skywebstudios.co.uk kev

    I loved reading this! I often look at things in more ways than one because I like to try and understand every side of something, I think I over analyse things a lot. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes it’s bad!

    Really liked the title of this, it got me to click and read and I’ve never really known shyness to have benefits even though I would personally enjoy the company of another shy person way more than a loud outgoing person. The problem I have is I don’t really meet shy people, I am probably in the wrong places to meet them. Where are they hiding? Maybe it’s time to visit the library, I am often quiet, perhaps that place would suit me lol

  • Eddie Yeung

    This artical is making me less shy,
    am i losing the strenghts?_?

  • Young E Cha

    I remember being a very sensitive and shy child, thus, my baseline. As an adult, I have grown out of a lot of it with huge efforts so that it doesn’t appear to be a social issue when at work or out with others. But I feel it painfully when I like someone. I stay under the radar or I try very, very hard to not let it get noticed. In professional life, I’m as bold as can be. But the initiation of a relationship is frightening and I avoid it at all costs, which doesn’t do me any good in the long run, but I avoid the painful feelings of being vulnerable (because sensitivity is heightened even more than ever). Thus, the residual shyness affects the very personal aspects of life over anything else, which hurts, because it’s the most important part of life.

  • Young E Cha

    Also, shyness is how one is wired (brain and nervous system) and it isn’t about self-esteem issues. I think that’s the misconception people have about shyness.

  • Rajesh kumar singh

    Iam advocate in India since 1988 and top lawyer of the pathlegal.com list.I wanted to learn life optimizer.

  • riley

    This article makes me feel like the world is trying to comfort the shy people by tweaking the disadvantageous of being shy, so that it sound like a not-too-bad personality or characteristic to have.

    • Aziz

      Shy isn’t bad!!!

  • http://primrosevalleycaravans.weebly.com/ Barry

    Shyness isn’t a bad thing, that’s why, it can have its advantages as well as its disadvantages but never should it be classed as a bad thing but unfortunately some people don’t quite know how to react to shyness and they can often more times than not just think your a bit weird because of it. When inside your dying to scream an answer to them but you feel too pressured in front of groups of people you do not know. A shy person usually understands that shyness isn’t that there is something wrong with you and that you are weird but if a person has never been shy before they will find this hard to understand.

  • http://opambour.synthasite.com Adjei Agyeman A Opambour

    been shy at times makes people like you. in most cases parents want it best when their son or daughter comes home with a partner who is somehow shy.

  • Ricky

    Being shy is really miserable for me. I have lived 4 decades of loneliness and almost nobody has been warm or kind to me before. Most people are unfriendly or rude to me just because I’m shy and I always get bullied. Even if when I’m kind or nice or helpful to others, they won’t be friendly to me.

    Now i’m suffering from hormone imbalance and various health problem due to that. I don’t understand why shyness is like something so evil that people have to treat me so cold and unfriendly..

    • Dana

      i now how it feels being bullied and mistreated but there are nice people out there.
      anw i was like u(still am) but now i have a few friends and if i found some people i’m sure u will too so keep ur head high Ricky:)
      and i don’t know if you’ll see this comment but if u do this is my msn: “douna_cutybrunette_me@hotmail.com”
      sometimes it helps to talk to someone and it’s better when u can’t see them face to face

    • joseph

      dont feel alone anymore..man there is whole world with you. just go and try once…there can be lots of friends pray to your god.. i know being shy kills you..so plz go once and have d bst part of your life.. enjoy buddy Me and d whole world is with you…!!!:-)

    • milica

      Ricky sorry for saying this, but you are not just shy, you are weak! That’s why people don’t like you.. You have to overcome it! Be bold, look in the eyes, smile, smile, smile, don’t look down. “Even if when I’m kind or nice or helpful to others, they won’t be friendly to me.”- don’t be so kind, it’s not the reason for someone to like you. It’s to bee interesting, funny, smart, good looking… find something that you are good at and show it. Bee good just to be good, not to be accepted. I’m talking from personal experience.

      • Dennis Teel

        @milica,you’re obviously saying life is a not so honest game to impress others..good luck..you’re headed for problems

  • AC

    I have always been a shy person. I think I have become worse with age. I have received complaints on evaluations at work because apparently I don’t interact with my patients enough. It’s like you can’t even be yourself when you’re this way. I have to put on a show and be a loud mouth talking about nothing all day to make the bosses happy. Lol. There are times though that I break out of it and don’t eveñ realize it. For instance, in my public speaking class we often broke up into groups where every freaking body seemed to be shy, so I took control of everything. I enjoy that, so I make it a point sometimes to not be the meek one going along with whatever everyone else wants.

    It was hard growing up (and somewhat now) because one of my sisters is very outgoing, always the life of the party.

    Also somehing I noticed as I got older, some people react to shy people by taking how you are as a personal insult. Oh you’re quiet? You must just not like me. Or they think I’m stuck up, acting as if I’m too good to be talkative around them.

    Recently I had to ask my sister to stop explaining me to people. She would go out of her way to let people know that I barely talk to people. Going so far as to say that I won’t speak to family if I saw them on the street. And that if she and I weren’t related I probably wouldn’t speak to her. Which is all absurd. I have no idea where she thought up these ridiculous ideas. My goodness. Yes, I’m a quiet person, but its not like if someone spoke to me I would ignore them. I had to explain to her that she makes me sound like some weird nutjob.

    For me, some people I click with and speak as if we were friends for years. These are usually people that DON’T treat shy people like lepers.
    I am trying to break these ways though. I WANT to be more outgoing.

    Sorry for being so long winded.

    • Dana

      i have the same probs as u have but my sis tries to make me more outgoing but i refuse saying that i don’t like meeting new people but really inside, i’m saying that so i won’t embaress her in front of her friends.

      anw i act as if i’m proud of being shy so no one would notice that i’m hurting inside and when i’m alone i cry it off to feel better that has been what i’ve been doing for years.

      as a kid i had no friends so i hated my childhood but now i do.
      P.S: ur sis is really cruel.

    • The Shytrovert

      You are not broken. You are just different and being quiet isn’t a crime. Sometimes I sincerely wonder what is the matter with outgoing/extroverted folk. I do know they seek fulfillment through talking and feel they have connected with others for having done so. This is how they can consider casual connections friends. So when you don’t talk enough they don’t feel validated and they experience that as some type of cruelty or meanness on your part. Just because the extroverted hoards think you should be like them doesn’t mean you need to be. Don’t put that pressure on yourself. You’re never going to be like them. I’m not saying if you have social skills issues you shouldn’t work on those, I’m just saying accept that you’re probably never going to be the life of the party.

  • A shy doctor-wannabe

    Dear Dana,

    My sister and I read your article and we really want to thank you for being our saviour! We were both shy and we were bullied quite a lot in our childhood (her more so because she had the misfortune of simply meeting more bullies). Our teachers would often write that we were quiet and advise us to make more friends. We do have friends and value our relationships with them and it was great that our teachers were out to help us but it felt as if they thought shyness was as fearful as contracting HIV :/

    Eventually, we did ‘outgrow’ our shyness but being quiet still remained the dominant part of our personalities. Thank you for helping us to embrace our gifts! My sister is now more confident she can get pass the interview for culinary school and I am less worried that I won’t be chosen for medical school simply because I’m the ‘shy type’.

  • http://marashor.com Mara

    This is a great, thoughtful, inspiring list!

    • Sheila

      Shyness can be a big deal 4 someone who hasn’t identified her/himself or rather ‘ identity crisis’. Comin 2 terms wit ur shyness nature helps u avoid dissappointin urself. Am currently in campus n am a shy girl but wen i was in my 1st year i tried bein talkative lyk d rest but it neva worked wel 4 me since i wasn’t in my skin. I had 2 re define myself 2 d real me, u don have 2 b talkative 2 b cool. Just b yourself.

  • Dakota Sky

    I am 27 and have been really quiet and shy for most my life. I have a cousin who is totally opposite than me,out spoken, loud, says whatever she feels,a real social butterfly……so anyway I realize once people really get to know the both of us they wind up liking me better……..because I listen and think before I talk and am more sensitive to others. Oh and I get along very well with people opposite of me I guess its because they bring out more of my personality…..I wouldn’t change being shy and quiet for the world……those loud people always want to know what your thinking trust me……keep them guessing and when you do speak they listen because they want to know. The world is made of a rainbow of different people for a reason….think about it and never let bullies get to you because they do have low self esteems for sure. ;)

  • Srinivas

    Wow!!! I never thought of these things. I used to think my shy as a weakness wondering how to overcome it. But I don’t have to:-)

  • D-Mac

    Hey everybody I have read all the comments you guys put up and this is what I think. First of all, I’m an 18 year old going to college far from home and as a child I was always shy. Then in High School i had my first group of best friends. Their was 4 of us and we were all shy, but we stuck out for each other and became the best of friends. But enough of my life story. Now in college I feel like being shy is really a disadvantage. Even though it is you can always concur it no matter what. One way is in books,which will definitely open up your eyes and mouth.
    Most of you probably wonder why your so shy and the reason is that your left brain dominant and if you don’t know what that is look it up, it’ll surprise you.Also never worry about saying the wrong thing and just be yourself.I want to tell you guys more but life is about learning by yourself and i hope these few comments can open up your mind. Now go out and find yourself and remember you always have people that will love you.

  • Kris

    This article gave my eyes cause to mist a tad, because I have struggled with shyness for a long time. This gives me some hope, and allows self-acceptance to open up a little more. This is for me, and for all of the other introverts in our extroverted society. Shy people have strengths too :)

  • Esther

    My dear,mine is intense shyness.i can’t face d crowd even 2 talk to my parents & sibblings is hard 4 me,sumtyms i’m condemned buh i’m not discouraged i’ve got privacy & maturity

    • http://www.gamecatchup.com Kev

      This sounds more like social anxiety than shyness, the two can be very close and confused and if you have both it’s torture!

  • rrj

    I am a shy person, and sometimes I worry about my future because i don’t want to be like this forever. But this is a very nice article, i was not aware that being shy has its own advantage. It is just a matter of how you handle shyness or anxiety issues. I actually prefer to be friends with shy people, and then we can talk about each others likes and dislikes, because we can relate to each others problems and we can work something out together to overcome our shyness.

    • http://edebrew.mydevryportfolio.com Roll Dog

      As a shy person, I probably prefer to be friends who are talkative. If I am around someone who is socially awkward as I am, then I may not pursue a relationship with him or her. There is that saying “Opposites attract”. Just being with a friend or a woman who is full of life is satisfactory for me.

  • Idalia

    Well for me shyness is a problem I noticed that guys like outgoing women more. Shyness is a problem for me at work too I get nervous and feel like I’m not doing stuff right also I don’t have friends I know some girls I do talk just not a lot like them and I guess they don’t really like me because of that sometimes I feel lonely and want to talk or hang out but no friends call me or text me on my cell so I feel bad and I wish I was an outgoing person also in highschool no guy ever talked to me but to the outgoing girls they would talk too so there is nothing positive to shyness for me either but thanks for the article it made me think about my shyness and feel less worried for a little while.

    • Nee

      Im sorry if this is creepy, Idalia, but I just want to hug you. I’m shy too mainly as a side-effect of bullying and feelings of inadequacy. It gets better. Promise.

  • Astroman2012

    There seems to be no inbetween here, not all people that aren’t shy are obnoxious. I’m not particularly shy but I’m a very sensitive person but very outgoing, funny and popular. A work colleague of mine is pretty shy and wouldn’t say boo to a goose but underneath the quiet shy persona is a very sly, untrustworthy and not very decent person. So don’t buy into the shy is nice, confident is obnoxious rubbish. Try and look a bit deeper.

  • Lela

    My shyness has ruined so many good opportunities in life for me. My friends are encouraging me to be more sociable and outgoing but I’m still quiet and shy and i don’t know how to make a simple conversation or make friends. I hope I overcome this with age, because I’m scared for my future. I don’t want to be like this forever.

    • Rebecca

      I understand everything. I’m just like you. I fear that i have to deal with this shyness my whole life. I really hate it! And my dream is to perform on stage in front of people. As a singer or piano player. I would do a lot to become good at it. But my shyness bothers me so much.

  • Miranda

    Let me add i the biggest bonus us shy girls have…we turn all the guys on. they find us mysterious and intriguing, something the average loud mouth brat doesn’t get. BTW shy girls are the prettiest at school or work. Seriously the next time your at school or work look at the shy chicks there, 90% out of 100 they are the hottest girl in the room and have all the guys staring at them(too bad their too sell-conscious to notice)

  • aarushi

    sometimes shyness also helps as the people who need any kind of help can approach us and tell their problems quite easily

  • Mia

    I am 13 and so far I have always been shy just not around my family or friends. I have never thought my shyness was bad. The only main problems is when I have to speak in front of a whole class. I just get so shaky and scared. I have tried to stop and be outgoing but its really hard. I never get bullied or anything but i have always wanted to be one of those girls.

  • Evan

    I am a shy guy- and I’m wondering how to optimize myself. I’ve had so much socially that got me feeling like I shouldn’t draw attention to myself as much. In elementary school I was closer to an ambivert than introvert, but I went to a middle school later that had very few people I even know. I then lost my father during fourth grade. He was my everything, and he understood me most of anyone, and he had patience that made me wonder if the cliché that nobody is perfect, may be flawed…

    As I began middle school, I was loud, but I only had one or two friends. I displayed myself a bit too much and painfully eroded myself into a complete conflict-avoider. In eighth grade, my best friends are in high school, and I only want a friend if I can use them as a role model. I look at the middle school and I see a bunch of kids. Most are a part of cliques. Most are lewd and inappropriate in their conversations. The rest I probably don’t notice as much because the first two facts have lost my attention. Eventually I found another loner, who I could have an intellectually stimulating conversation with.

    Also, around the time of my fathers’ passing, my mom and I started having more heated “conversations”. It starts with a trivial conflict, and the pressure goes 0-150 in thirty seconds. She sits me down and, as I try to begin with a shell that makes me seem cold, which breaks before the 3-hour (on average, no kidding) duration, I start bawling and get dehydrated, weak, and drained. Ever hear that introverts have a mental battery that gets charged being alone and vice versa with lots of stimuli? Once my mom is finished, my battery ends on neurotic. The talks also transition from what the topic was supposed to be, to EVERYTHING that she has a problem with that I am correlated with. Now, I’ll stop there with the descriptions, but you get the point. Anyway, that has been getting more frequent, and she tells me that her health is plummeting and that she’s wasting time trying to get into me. She says she thinks I hate her, and today, she belted out a ton of flawed conclusions about me.

    I want to be able to enjoy opportunities. I also feel that being shy, in my case, has less to do with self-esteem, or so my conscious self suggests, has the benefits this article mentioned, and avoids toxic interactions and further burning my social image. However, it is upsetting when my mom gets emails from angry parents who say their kids said I was inappropriate with girls. As this story shows, from eighth grade, I cannot avoid all conflict and people will still not always act as I want.

    I want advice on how I should go from here. On one front, I am approachable, impartial, studious (though admittedly too interested in my own pursuits to be an A student; the classes move at too slow of a pace to interest me much),…friendly? I also think I enjoy my life a lot as it is.

    On the other hand, I feel my mom has a point; I am missing valuable stuff in my life. I also feel people have a negative connotation of me that is just a bearing of what I am (and not even always that, probably). I don’t mind that much, though. And if you said I’m almost completely detached, I go to one social event per month and can be counted on to not say anything and do my own thing in the presence of most people, you’d be right. Generally I only speak when spoken to, if I have a fact or the conversation I’m near needs clarification, principles are broken or gossip is going on (and not even often then). However, inside I am very interesting, in my humble opinion. I find it very easy to talk to most adults and children, just not typical teenagers, which is obviously difficult for mom to process and makes for a complicated adolescence. I also have trust issues. I find myself cynical and someone who wants to be my friend… probably doesn’t after the long complications before my barrier of friendship is disabled. But just as quiet as I am in the external world, I can’t get my brain to shut up unless I have a major case of cabin fever (theoretically). In bed, if I have had way too much socializing beforehand, I may be up till two theorizing about my favorite topics. If you have advice for me about how I should put an effort toward accommodating myself into the social world, I think I need to to some extent.

    Also, Miranda, this shy guy completely agrees with you, although I don’t expect you to be flattered. I love cute girls. Being shy and cute may be subconsciously ingrained as similar, and I have no problems finding pretty among those girls. <3

  • Chel Sea

    Makes me feel alot better.

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