First of all, if you are painfully shy–yet love people as I do–you have to force yourself to go to social events. They don’t have to be big events. You just need to be around people you don’t know, where you have a chance to introduce yourself and talk at length to those you don’t know. Getting to events, clubs and even appointments is the first step to overcoming shyness, one that holds the severely shy back.
Smile at people.
Although it sounds silly, it ends up relaxing you and simultaneously sends a message that you are friendly. Perhaps you are friendly on the inside, yet scared to express it on the outside. A smile conveys that for you initially. By doing this, people will come up to you, and you don’t have to brush the shyness away for long enough to approach a stranger yourself.
There are perks to being shy and not wanting to start talking about yourself. In fact, there are a lot of over-talkers whose company wishes they were a bit more shy. By asking questions of others, even when you have difficulty finding a way to otherwise make conversation, you engage people and get practice on being a great listener. While your initial questions should be open-ended, listed intently to what the person says. Ask follow-up questions specific to what they are talking about. If they start speaking about their children, you may ask about their ages or a more off-the-wall question about her philosophy on motherhood.
Write down what you plan to say when speaking at a party or giving a toast.
When you get social anxiety, your worst nightmare may be public speaking. Yet, when that best friend gets married, you are going to need to give an obligatory toast. Yes, it has to be in public. Also, when accepting a huge kindness, you’ll be expected to give a speech. The best way to deal with the nervousness is to have it all planned out. Careful memorization, then speaking as though you’re coming up with it as you go, will make for a very successful delivery. Once it goes so well, it will get easier each time, until you really can do it as you go.
Last–yet certainly not least–surround yourself with wonderful people that help your feelings of shyness go away.
By being immersed in a situation you’re comfortable within, you’ll feel next to no social anxiety. By creating this environment for yourself on a regular basis, the anxiety and shyness will become less a part of your life. Therefore, when you are in situations with strangers or those who make you feel more on edge, you’ll be more practiced in the art of socially being yourself. This one has helped me a lot.