How to Not Appear Shy Even If You Are

The first self-help book I ever read was called Psycho Cybernetics. I remember the author giving advice on how to overcome shyness. 

And since I was descended from a long genealogical line of timid folk, I was pretty shy so I bought the book and devoured it.  It didn’t help much though.

Back then, I worked as a waitress in a hotel and sometimes waited on famous people.

Naturally, I was much too shy to ever strike up a conversation with any of them.  But I was amazed when one of the outgoing waitresses walked right up to Kurt Russell and struck up a conversation which ended in him asking her out on a date.  This girl had not a shy bone in her body.

I, on the other hand, waited on him every day for the entire summer he stayed at the hotel and the most I ever said to him was, “would you like more coffee?”  And the most he ever said to me was, “uh huh.”

Kurt Russell just seconds before he didn’t ask me out on a date.

But even if I would have had the nerve to strike up a conversation and get asked out on a date by Kurt Russell, I would have been much too shy to go!

I remember finding out they had actually discovered a “shyness gene”.

The ensuing joke went something like this:  Scientists have finally discovered there is a gene that causes shyness.  It took this long to discover it, however, because it was hiding behind all the other genes.

“You’ve been discovered, Shyness Gene, no use hiding under your Capillary Bed!”

I also remember once seeing an ad in the newspaper advertising a support group for shy people.  It said, if you’re shy, call this number. 

Uh . . .Hello!  Shy people don’t cold call phone numbers from out of the newspaper where they have to tell the strange person answering how shy they are — without an extremely strong incentive — like gunpoints and things of that nature.

And here’s another thing.  If you’re shy, you find it quite embarrassing to be shy.

So you try to act like you’re not shy in shy-inducing situations for the sole purpose of avoiding these dreaded phrases: “You’re shy aren’t you?”  or “How come you’re so shy?” Even when I go to the dentist I suspect he thinks I’m shy.

“You don’t talk much do you?”

Of course, I’m not that shy anymore, thank goodness.

Life has worn off my sensitivity to new situations involving new people, I like to think.  Still, traces of a once-shy personage do linger and come out in odd ways.

For instance, I find myself in a mild state of dread if I see an acquaintance in line at the checkout stand worried we’ll have to chat while other people stand there listening.

Or if I’m out on a walk, and I see someone coming in my direction, I have to stifle an urge to duck behind the nearest tree.

Yeah, hi . . . how you doin’

Here are some tricks, I’ve learned to hide shyness:

Get the Other Person Talking

This is a god-send.  If you can get the other person talking, you never have to say a word.  Of course, as the years go by, that other person may suddenly realize that while you know that their great, great grandfather on their mother’s side had red hair, they don’t know your last name — which could be a little awkward, but a small price to pay.

Bait and Switch

When starting a new job in a very quiet office where the only sounds you hear are the ratcheting of ears turning in your direction when you say something-; and some loudmouth comes up to you and tries to strike up a conversation by asking you a personal question — drop your pen under your desk, crawl under to pick it up and then simply stay there until they go away.

“Ah nuts! Here comes somebody else!”

Feign Distraction

If you see someone you are acquainted with at the grocery store who you know talks really loud and is trying to get your attention, pretend you don’t see them by doing one of the following:

Drop that head of lettuce you’ve been examining onto the floor and then kick it around the produce isles pretending like you’re trying to pick it up but it keeps rolling away.

Stick your entire head into the freezer and pretend to be studying the ice cream ingredients.

And finally . . .

Don’t make the mistake of being overly friendly and warm to camouflage your shyness, this will only get you a job as a salesperson – or a date with Kurt Russell.  And then where will you be?

Until next time . . . I love you

21 thoughts on “How to Not Appear Shy Even If You Are

  1. I’m pretty shy too when I start a new job or am amongst people I don’t know, but after a few weeks I usually get comfortable enough to spew potty humor 24/7

  2. Oh my gosh I had the most painful of shyness growing up. I still do sometimes too but not like – in High school my brother was the captain of the football team – read popular – and i was so shy that when I would pass his friends in the halls I couldn’t even say hi….I found out later they all thought I was stuck up ….wow shyness to being stuck up.. I never considered that. It was my first realization about perception. Anyway – YOU MET KURT RUSSELL????? FOR REAL???? Great avoidance tips I will have to commit them to memory and use them – I KNOW the lettuce one works lol Yay!
    🙂 Peace

    • I think you and I may be leading parallel lives in the same universe (or something like that). My older brother was on the football team in high school and very popular and I was very shy and quiet and everybody thought I was stuck up too. Apparently, “stuck up” is the phrase most preferred by high school kids all over the world! And Kurt Russsell . . . even though I waited on him every day for an entire summer when he was playing on a triple A baseball team in our town, he never said one word to me. I used to think he was “stuck up” but now I know he was just shy. Who knew?

  3. I’ve always wondered why shy is seen as a negative trait. There are some positives to being shy. We are contemplative, observent, thoughtful and remember birthdays. I prefer to be known as quiet though, as that’s not so negative.

    • Yes, you’re right! And I’ve always suspected that people who don’t have a shy bone in their body sometimes miss the most important things. So I’m glad I’m shy . . .I mean quiet! 🙂

  4. I’d say you’ve definitely gotten over the shyness.
    And I don’t think it counts as being shy if you’ve seen an old acquaintance that you don’t want to talk to or you would have kept in touch with them in the first place…

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  6. What?! You shy? Never! Impossible!
    Oh, but I feel ya. My friends kinda wonder what the heck’s wrong with me when I can write super fun and outgoing emails to them, but when I arrive to any of their parties, I’m dead quiet (focusing on chewing the chow carefully for healthy digestion). Great tips you’ve got here!
    p.s. I at least was thrilled that I had gotten the courage to get an autograph signed by an actor whom I had seen on a plane. He had kindly signed my (unused) napkin. Teehee!

    • Ahahah! I have done that focus on eating for healthy digestion! LOL! I think we might be peas form the same pod, SF, the pod that is hiding behind all the other pods! HA!

      Oh I am so glad you worked up the courage to get that autograph. I wanted to ask Kurt Russell for his but I could never get up the nerve! 😀

  7. I’m always worried when my children have friends over and they are shy, because those quiet ones have brains that are really observing and taking EVERYTHING in! I’m going to make a t-shirt with “I’m shy so screw you all” on it. I’ll send you one!

    • LOL!! I can’t wait for my “I’m Shy So Screw You All” t-shirt Sandy!! Ha! I wish I would have had it for the last gathering I had to attend! I think the letters might have to flash though or something though — otherwise no one would read it!

  8. Head of lettuce… that reminds me of a trick I use at the grocery store. If I see Kurt Russell or Al Gore or some other undesirable heading towards me, smiling and affable and sticking out a greasy hand, I grab a head of lettuce from my cart (I always put at least 6 of them in the cart as soon as I come in), give it a mighty roll, and knock the odious person over like a bowling pin. This helps me avoid a tedious conversation and feel good about myself… : )

    P.S. I also find that if I roll 2 or 3 heads down different aisles when I’m finished shopping, I can often sneak out and avoid the cashiers, whom I’m too shy to give money to… : )

    • *wiping away tears* LOL!! “other undesireables” hahaha! I was taking a sip of coffee and had to slap my hand over my mouth. Mark! I think this comment made me laugh more than any comment I’ve ever gotten. “I’m too shy to give money to . . . ” Thank you for starting my day off with the perfect Markie MacGIGGLE!

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