1. When meeting people for the first time, remember: they don't know you're shy. It might seem obvious, but casting that expectation aside can feel so freeing.
2. Remember that no one is likely to judge you as harshly as you judge yourself... and a lot of people very likely have the same worries and concerns as you do.
3. Give yourself a theme song and play it before you enter into a social situation that's making you nervous. It will help give you a little boost. (Also, it's fun.)
4. Sometimes you're going to blush. Sometimes your voice is going to crack. Sometimes you're going to use the wrong word out of nerves. People will forget about it two minutes later. I promise.
5. Try to think of yourself as your own PR person, making the proper introductions and presenting you in your best light.
6. 1. Of course it's possible to genuinely like people and be shy. Don't let people tell you different.
At A Party
7. When you enter a social situation, scan the room for the host or someone you know. Go greet that person first and ease into the process of saying hello to others.
8. If you don't see anyone you know, see if you can find a snack or drinks table. It'll give you an opportunity to bump into people and make awkward but necessary small talk, e.g. "Do you know where the napkins are? I'm ___, by the way."
9. Try to maintain eye contact while being introduced to someone new, and repeat their name as you say hello to help you remember it.
10. If you worry about how to greet someone socially (Kiss? Hug? Chest bump ending with a somersault?), lean into the awkward and admit you're not sure which to do, then hold out your hand (since it's the safest bet).
11. Don't play with your phone if you feel anxious or alone. I know it's tempting, but you can do this; you don't need that crutch, and keeping your eyes on your phone can make you look unapproachable or uninterested.
12. If there's a lapse in conversation, ask someone a question. "How do you know ___?" "When did you move to ____?" "What do you do?" are boring questions, sure, but they can lead to something more interesting.
13. It helps to have something in your hand as you talk. Grab a cup or small plate or a can of soda as you mingle so you're not focused on trying to remember whatever it is humans do with their hands as they talk (NO ONE REALLY KNOWS).
14. Having a drink can certainly ease tension, but don't let your nerves translate into getting wasted. (Generally speaking, try to make each drink last an hour, and remember to snack/eat while you drink.)
15. You're not here to entertain people. Don't feel as if you need to.
16. If you find yourself outside a circle of people talking, don't sweat it. Laugh at their jokes, accidentally bump elbows with the person next to you, take a sip, laugh some more. The circle will eventually open up.
On A Date
17. For a first date, it often helps to do an activities-based date (bowling, a museum, trivia night, a bar with board games) rather than a sit-down dinner. You can still get to know one another while keeping awkward pauses to a minimum.
18. Don't feel as if you need to have topics ready to talk about going into a social situation. Chances are, this is only going to make you nervous about remembering them.
19. Instead, pay attention to what people are saying. Active, genuine listening >>> thinking about what you're going to say next just for the sake of talking.
20. Don't feel the need to be someone you're not. (You're pretty great as you are.)
21. It's OK to be nervous on a date. (And it's ok to admit it! Chances are, your date is pretty nervous, too.)
22. If you're terrified at the prospect of kissing or hugging good night and don't want to, make the first move with a handshake.
23. That said, "Should we hug?" is a perfectly fine question to ask, as long as you're prepared for the answer to be "no."
24. ...Because a "no" won't break you. Neither firmly giving one nor gracefully receiving one.
25. Being "good at dates" takes practice, and some people never get there. And are still charming regardless. Or even because of it.
26. Use the "be your own PR person" advice when you're nervous about interviews. It helps quash shyness and nerves if you think of yourself acting as your own advocate, and it often makes it easier to discuss your goals, skills, and accomplishments.
27. Being good at communicating means being good at listening, too. Don't put pressure on yourself to be chatty during job interviews, just make sure to answer interviewers' questions to the best of your ability.
28. If your office sets up a happy hour or team-building event (no matter how cheesy), attend at least once to try it out. At the very least, it will help you put names to faces and ease you into meeting people.
29. No one hates a hi. If you bump into someone in the office kitchen or on the way to the bathroom, just say hi.
30. ...And never underestimate the power of the "silent nod with a smile." The shy person's weapon of choice.
31. Don't beat yourself up if you passed by someone without saying hi or weren't sure if they were greeting you or someone juuuust behind you. There will be other opportunities.
32. If it's appropriate, give yourself the challenge of speaking out at least once during an all-hands meeting or brainstorm session. If there's something you're itching to say, say it. If you feel that someone came up with a great plan, tell them.
33. Sometimes, when presenting an idea to a group, you'll interrupt or step on someone's words. It happens all the time. Just say "oops, excuse me, go ahead" or "you go first." It's really no big deal, even though it FEELS like one.
34. If you're more comfortable at writing than talking, shoot someone an email if you really liked their idea or want to work on a project with them. Just be sure not to use email as a crutch to avoid talking altogether.
35. You're not going to be friends with everyone you meet, and you should not expect yourself to be. But there's a difference between being friends and being friendly. You can be friendly with the people around you even if you're not going to invite them over to watch Netflix. And vice-versa.
36. We all have pangs of shyness. Even people who seem like total extroverts can feel shy, they've just learned how to manage and handle it. You can, too!
37. Also, it bears repeating: people don't know you're shy unless you let them know. Every meeting, interview, date, party, and greeting is an opportunity for you to be exactly the person you want to be.
38. No one is thinking about what you're doing or saying as much as you are. Harsh, but true.
39. You are not your shyness.
40. You're worth getting to know.