Cast out the shyness and learn to connect with people like a pro in 6 simple steps

Are you a proud introvert? It’s popular nowadays.

But the fact is that our fast-paced world favors outgoing, open extroverts. At least when it comes to success.

There's nothing wrong with excusing yourself from the outside world and diving into your inner universe.

Yet, if you want to make it in just about anything, you need to upgrade your social skills.

The sooner you accept that the better.

And just so you know, it makes no difference if you're an extrovert or an introvert, if you're shy, nervous and insecure around people, you better roll up your sleeves and dig in.

Oh great, you’re ready.

These simple steps will take you from being meek and tense around people, to becoming outgoing and connecting with ease and confidence.

It won’t be easy. You must leave your comfort zone and push your limits.

But, take one step at a time and go easy on yourself.

Step 1: Boosting your self-esteem is the “door” to the “outgoing”

You’re afraid people will laugh at you or consider you a loser, ugly or what not.

Or worse - you think you are an ugly loser.

Stop that right away.

You need to appreciate yourself if you expect others to accept and like you. So, the more bullet points from this selection you integrate into your life, the better:

  • List your qualities.
  • List the things you’ve done that you’re proud of.
  • Stop negative self-talk and turn it into positive - in all circumstances.
  • Say no when you mean no.
  • Don’t (ever) compare yourself to others.
  • Get in shape.
  • Dress up.
  • Start and finish a project of your own.
  • Help people.

Step 2: Start out small

When you wake up the self-love, it’s time for basic communication with others.

Don’t start with the person you have a crush on, your boss, or that person you'd like to get to know, right off the bat.

Start with your neighbors. A girl in a coffee shop. People you meet in waiting lines. Members of your gym.

Begin with a smile. People instinctively smile back, which will increase your confidence. If you worry your smile is awkward or unnatural, practice it in the mirror.

Make eye contact. When you make small talk while not looking people in the eyes they get the impression that something is wrong with you.

You can also use a little trick. Stare at their nose or the eyebrows instead of the eyes. They won't be able to tell the difference and holding your gaze for 4 or 5 seconds will be easier.

But no, that won't be enough. Take a little break and go back. You need to maintain eye contact for as long as the conversation goes on.

Making and maintaining eye contact can be difficult, but as you do it time and again, it’ll become second nature. Promise.

Say “Thank you.” Perhaps people pay little attention to “Sorry,” “Thank you,” and such, but they do notice when these words are missing. So use those and similar phrases a lot.

And then, combine all the 3. Say “hello” while smiling and making eye contact. Say “thank you” while smiling and making eye contact. (No, just muttering it to yourself won’t do it)

Stay at this step for as long as it takes you to become confident and relaxed.

Step 3: Introducing yourself

Still not ready to chat with a person you like, your boss or a complete stranger?

Why not strike up a conversation with another shrinking violet or a neighbor you’ve been saying “Hi” to for the last couple of days, instead?

So after you say “Hi,” (with a smile and while making eye contact) say your name and a follow-up sentence.

You can pay that person a compliment, say something about the weather or about the circumstances that brought you two together.

A few (nice) words about the dentist, if you met in the waiting room, for example.

How much you like dogs if they're walking one. And about your neighborhood, if you’re introducing yourself to your neighbor.

You get the picture.

Try to be friendly, but don’t push the conversation if they are not interested.

If that’s the case though, you're hardly the reason why.

Step 4: Use your strength to your advantage – ask and listen

Introverts and shy people don’t talk all that much, but they’re often excellent listeners.

And asking questions is the next, key step in the art of conversation.

Ask open-ended questions and listen to the answer. (An open-ended question means people need to reply with more than yes or no.)

That's it.

And while you’re at it, search for something the person you’re talking to is keen to talk about, and for the things you two have in common.

You can then expect them to ask you a question. Answer, but don't make the whole conversation about you.

And after, continue and ask a different question, based on what you learned from their replies.

Step 5: The finish

Leave the door for the next meeting open. If you talked about movies, mention that you could see a movie together sometime.

Also, if they talked about their plans or problems, wish them luck.

Be sure you point out how you enjoyed the conversation and if you reckon it went particularly well, you can even suggest a specific get together.

And there you go.

The recipe for being open and easygoing in any social setting.

Practice makes perfect and after you get confident, you are ready to chat with your crush, your boss or the person you'd like to become familiar with.

Step 6: When the interaction backfires

Don’t fall into a trap of blaming yourself if something goes wrong. And it will.

Even if your body language was clumsy and awkward, it might not be the reason that person didn’t want to talk to you.

Maybe they were too shy. Maybe their parents didn’t raise them well.

And if you did something wrong, figure out what and fix it.

And be kind to yourself.

You’ve got this!