How to Overcome Shyness

Note: This is a guest post from Randy McLean of

Do you remember what it was like giving a speech in elementary school in front of the whole class? Your mouth was dry, you were constantly fidgeting and you had major butterflies in your stomach.

For many people this condition can often extend into adulthood. Perhaps you are hesitant to make a phone call or approach someone to ask for directions. Sometimes this can hinder you more than help you.

Today I want to share 7 little known ways to overcome shyness:

1. People don’t bite

People cannot read your mind. A lot of the time when you want something you need to ask. You will find that most of the time they are friendlier than you expected.

They might even surprise you and politely say “you should have said something!” Often the more we dwell on a situation the scarier it becomes.

2. Think of the consequences

Sometimes when you don’t act there are consequences to suffer. For example, what if you need something to do your job from your boss but are too shy to ask? It could come back to haunt you.

Or let’s say the telephone rings and you don’t pick up the phone because you don’t recognize the number. You then look it up only to discover that it was a really great company that you had submitted your resume to. You call back and leave a message but never hear from them again.

Getting out of your comfort zone can often make life easier than if you don’t act at all.

3. What is the worst that can happen?

Most of the time the longer you wait the worse a perceived circumstance will become in your mind. You will find that most things you worry about never happen. We can often let our imagination run wild.

And if the situation doesn’t go as planned so what? As long as you are kind it is not your problem. It is their problem. If you say hello and smile most people will do the same thing back. You reap what you sow.

4. Realize that life is too short

If you are waiting for that guy or gal to ask you out it might never happen. However, if you approach them it just might happen.

Missed opportunities can be one of the hardest pills to swallow. It can take a long time to get over and the situation will often replay in your mind over and over again.

In contrast, if you do act in a timely manner after careful deliberation there will be no regrets.

5. Break the ice

There is a difference between being shy and quiet. It is hard for others to tell that when you first meet them. Going out of your way to talk to someone you first meet will create a much better first impression.

Often at times other people are waiting for you to talk to them. Why? Because they are shy too! It can often help to break the ice and you will find that overall your interactions with people will be more pleasant.

6. Get out of your comfort zone

This can be a very hard task but you will find that the experience will be very rewarding. Try and do something that you would normally never do.

You could try speaking up at your next company meeting, volunteering for a charity or becoming more active in your church. Activities like this will help to boost your confidence.

7. Practice makes perfect

The more you try and overcome shyness the more confidence you will have. The more confidence you have the easier it will become to continue behaving in a like manner.

If you find that you struggle with shyness try thinking about and applying some of the techniques in this article. They helped me and I am sure they will help you too!

Written by Randy McLean. Randy offers free self development tips designed to improve your health, wealth, and happiness. He blogs about positive thinking, personal fulfillment and abundant living.

Photo by Sukanto Debnath


  1. That is really helpful. Being shy can really inhibit personal growth.

    Another way to overcome shyness is to start interacting with others who share your passions. When you are around others who share the same energy and excitement for sailing, chess, wine tasting, whatever it is; having conversations and a good time will come easier.

    Once you feel comfortable around people with similar interest, you can slowly network with those who may have other interests or passions.

  2. A place where being shy can be painful is the workplace. One may have the best ideas on a team and not be able to share them to move a project or program to greater heights. Sometimes, it’s great to remind ourselves that we each have unique gifts and goodness to offer the world.

    Even for folks that are not shy, this is a good reminder as to how to invite quiet and shy people into the conversation. Thanks so much.

    • Thanks for sharing Susie. Yes, there is probably a lot of unrecognized talent because of shyness. Or worse yet, someone else might take credit for the idea.

      I think it is good to have an open forum for discussion along with a suggestion box or even meetings on a one on one basis.

  3. In addition, we can remind ourselves that shyness is rooted from pride. If we shy away from from people, it means we do not want rejection or that we are not allowing ourselves to get negative answers/reactions. Being able to accept the possibility of rejection will make us realize that we will lose nothing if we ask or show our true selves to people.

    • This is a very common scenario in group settings. A shy person might have a very good answer to a question but is afraid it might be the “wrong answer.”

      Then a minute later someone else will come up with the same answer that the shy individual was thinking. Good point about the pride issue.

  4. I used to be very shy indeed, hardly talking to new people, and only keeping a few friends. But now, I’m much more confident with others, and myself.

    It takes hard work, but we can overcome our shyness limitations. We just need to keep at it 🙂

    • Hi Stuart, thanks for sharing. I can relate to what you are saying also. In fact, this post is made up of actual tips that I used to come more and more out of my shell.

      I think that it can be overcome in stages. For example, some are even too shy to comment on a blog post. That could be a great starting point!

    • But there is a problem , that what should be talked to the peaple. we often waste time in thinkin the topics to be discussed with strangers or to the people we are not friendly with.

  5. I always ask myself ‘what is the worst that can happen’, I usually see there is nothing to be worried about.

    Another magic bullet to overcoming shyness is to simply smile. It breaks down so many barriers between you and other people and it makes you feel better about yourself.

    • Interesting point about smiling Katie. At least it will let someone know you are open to communication.

      That can be really useful in a place like an elevator because some feel extremely awkward when confined in a small area with a stranger.

  6. In order to overcome shyness, first accept the idea of failure! More often than not, you are not too shy to ask somebody out, or too shy to speak your mind. You’re just crippled by your fear :).
    We you do not fear failure, you are free to be yourself, and you are free to go for what you want.

  7. Boy, this was a post I came upon while trolling my Twitter feeds and it has my name written all over it. This has been a big hurdle for me to overcome, since I now am responsible for selling myself and my company! I have always been soft-spoken and networking is helping. My heart still beats a little faster when talking in front of a large group, but practice does make perfect. As you say, not many are comfortable speaking to people or in front of groups, so don’t shy away! Thanks and I’ve signed up to get updates.

  8. What a great post. I used to be painfully shy: if I was travelling away from home I’d be too nervous to go down to breakfast, and the very idea of actually going up and speaking to someone was…well…it never happened.

    After a considerable amount of soul searching, I pinpointed an incident that happened in my childhood: I had been sitting in a car (I was about 4 years old) singing a wee impromptu song ‘I see a posting box!’. One of my fellow passengers said ‘That’s not a posting box, it’s a telephone box!’ . In point of fact, I KNEW it was a telephone box, the wrong word had just come out of my mouth. The person in the driver’s seat said “Oh, don’t take any notice of her, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about”
    Unbeknown to that person, those words stuck with me for YEARS. I believed that other people saw me as an idiot not worth listening to. It was only when I chellenged this in my own mind and thought ‘what if I DO know what I’m talking about, at least some of the time?’ that I gradually overcame my shyness.

    Several years of self talk and personal development later, I now run a training and development company, and regularly speak in public.

    If someone has put you down and brought on your shyness, look back forgive them, and challnege yourself to replace those negative thoughts with new, more positive and accurate ones.

  9. This is a good post, My daughter is very shy, even to her own family. I will try some of these pointers with her.

  10. Thanks for this great post. I used to be a little bit shy. By this I mean I was normal with my friends and familly and too shy with new people. This implies that I have few friends. Now, I living abroad and in my earlier sejourn, I was also too shy because I feared to be ridiculous if the beginning of the discussion with a new person is different from my own culture. So I dicided to talk to others whatever they’ll think. I am always on the road. These tips may help me to ultimatly overcome the shyness.
    Thanks again for different contributions.

  11. Thanx for this gr8 post..i am really shy, i read thiz inspiring article which made me post somethng,as the first step to overcome shyness.. i always think that i am dumb,hv idiotic thoughts,getting opinion of others and worrying a hell lot about the silly things tht r gonna happen.After reading thz article,i realised tht shyness was the root cause for all. Thanx 4 the tips..

  12. This article scared me at first because, I felt like it was reading my mind. I think about some of the words posted here verbatim. Like #5 There is most certainly a difference between Shy and Quiet. And the ones that are shy try to down play it by saying they’re quiet rather than improving themselves. I’m glad I found another like minded individual.

  13. As I am a shy and introverted person I found this article extremely useful and I think it is the time to overcome my shyness and reservedness that caused me many missed opportunities and pent-up emotions.

  14. I have a decent case of shyness where when im in a room of people I never talk unless someone talks to me and i really avoid people and after reading some sites some people said first dont care what other people think of you that helps some but for me i also kinda had to. There was 2 things that bring me out of a shy slump, First i started going to bed early i know like 9:30 isnt what is considered “cool” now a days but every time when i get to bed at that time i wake up feeling refreshed and not tired and that helps. Another was i used to just leave my hair down (im a guy with kinda short hair) and stuff and that also just helped my shyness but when i started going to bed earlier and fixing my hair that spiked in kicking away my shyness to a great extent. Then next step was to talk more often. I am pretty popular among my school so people knew me and always said hi in the halls but i really never responded or anything because of the shy factor so just from fixing my hair a bit and going to bed earlier it boosted that enough where instead of them saying it i started to and then in class im not to quite anymore when people walk in i can now yell hey or say whats up without feeling weird or awkward and that has helped alot i recommend trying it because if your visiting this site your probably wanting to try what you can i mean hey thats why i came here the first time and now im not to shy anymore its still a work in progress for me kinda but im working on it and its workin

  15. Hello! Great info you have shared there. Every parents should be able to
    know how to properly guide their children, especially on the childhood
    stages of the child. 🙂

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