5 Exercises For Overcoming Shyness in New Situations

If you get a lump in your throat every time you enter a room full of strangers, don’t worry. You are not alone. New situations where you don’t know a soul is scary, and introducing yourself to a complete stranger feels a lot like public speaking. Public speaking is the number one fear of most people – above even death! But you can overcome your shyness (without facing death) by using these five exercises.

#1 Look Good; Feel Good

Before you go anywhere, prepare by doing all those little things that make you feel good about yourself. Take a long shower, use deodorant, style your hair, use a small spritz of cologne or perfume (just a little!), and wear comfortable clothes and accessories that complement your figure and coloring. If you know you look and smell good, you will have more confidence.

As you travel to the event, go over your intentions for the evening. If you set a specific intention, you will be able to focus on success and recognize opportunity easier. For instance, you could be looking to meet someone who knows how to design in WordPress. That’s very specific, but you’d be surprised at how quickly that person will find you when you put that vibe out. Less specifically, you could set an intention to feel relaxed and have fun. Tell yourself you will, and you will attract that outcome.

Just before you enter the room or venue, add the final touches: close your eyes, take a deep breath, visualize yourself being confident. Open your eyes, stand up straight. Finally, SMILE. You will instantly feel more confident.

#2 Recognize Everyone’s Shared Wish

Have you ever watched a game show and rooted for the underdog? Were you angry or ecstatic when they won the jackpot or the new car? We get excited when we see people win, it’s the human condition. No one watches to see people lose – the shared wish is to see someone succeed.

Stop negative self-talk. Remember that others want to see you succeed as much as you do, and that you are capable and worthy of winning. If a negative thought enters your head, stop it with “cancel” and replace it with “I can do this” or a similar mantra.

Remember this as you walk into the room – every single person present wants to see you succeed.

#3 Focus Outward

When you walk into a room, do you feel everyone is staring at you? That’s natural. One of the main undercurrents of shyness is the belief that everyone is judging you. What’s funny is that everyone else is so worried that they are being judged that they really don’t have time to worry about judging you. It’s true. Everyone else is thinking about themselves, not you. That’s why your smile will go so far – you are showing others that you aren’t judging them, after all. You’re putting them at ease. Wow, you’re powerful!

If you focus outward rather than inward, you’ll find that that you share a common ground with many people and all your negative self-talk is invalid.

#4 Look for Open Conversations

We all fear rejection, but sometimes we set ourselves up for it inadvertently. If you have ever tried to enter a conversation and felt as if you weren’t wanted, it is very possible that you tried to enter a closed conversation. What does that mean?

People engage in all different types of conversations at social events, but each can be boiled down to either being open or closed. If you take a moment to look at body language, it’s usually pretty easy to determine which is which.

Closed conversations are between two people, rarely more. They may be talking about something personal or sharing a bit of gossip. Their toes and shoulders will be pointing slightly inward, toward each other. They will be looking at each other. They are not open to having someone join them, and will likely see an attempt as in interruption.

Open conversations can be between two people or a group. Their toes and shoulders will be pointed slightly outward, and they will make eye contact with each other, but still look up or around the room now and then. They will be discussing something light – work, the weather, the event itself. They are open to having someone join them. If you make eye contact with one of them and smile – and they smile back – you’re in. Just say hello, and you’ll get introduced around.

#5 Get Them Started – Then Let Them Talk

It’s easy to be a great conversationalist. Get someone started talking by offering them a compliment or asking them a question. Then, let them tell you about it. People simply love to talk about themselves, their families, their pets, or their possessions. Each of us is bursting with stories (even if we don’t realize it until we get started talking). If you are a good listener, you will be seen as a good conversationalist.

This doesn’t mean to sit in silence while someone blabbers on and on. Being an active listener means that you are learning something from the other person. This might entail asking a clarifying question, agreeing or disagreeing with something they’ve said, and/or laughing with them. Find a common ground, and then let them tell you their stories. You’ll learn a lot and they’ll think you are a brilliant conversationalist.


Get out there. Seriously, just as if you were rehearsing a song or training for a basketball game, the more you practice, the better you’ll get. It won’t be easy the first time. It will be easier the second time. Soon, you’ll be meeting new people and finding you enjoy it.

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