How to talk to a shy person

Name: Meridel How old am I: I am 67

in. Make the first move.

Small talk syllabus

Ask open-ended questions. Stay in their orbit. T here are two types of people at holiday gatherings. In my head, I call them the Katies and the Gregs because Katies always seem confident and chatty, and Gregs seem like easy-going dudes who can talk to anyone. People like me. As soon as I think of something relevant to say, I get anxious about how to gracefully break into the conversation. And often, while I wait for an opening, I start to fear that the thing I want to say is really stupid and just go back to the magazine. Stefan G. Hofmann is the director of the psychotherapy and emotion research laboratory at Boston University.

For those of us who are terrible at masking it, the internet is chock-full of articles about how to learn to be more outgoing.

Ten tips for shy people to meet friends

We may be too nervous to insert ourselves into a conversation, but we hate feeling excluded as much as anyone else. Overly enthusiastic greetings and goodbyes can stress us out.

My favorite hello? An important note: Do this subtly!

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Often in group settings, shy people need an explicit invitation into the conversation — like a softball question lobbed directly to them — to feel comfortable opening up. We might actually be doing this other thing called listening. But speaking of circles, shy people generally are more comfortable one on one.

So even if we are super quiet in a group, we often warm up if you chat with us alone. Even if the two of you already have a pretty good rapport going, do not single out a shy person in front of everyone during a lull at dinner. Set them up for success. Go with them to grab a drink and some food and introduce them around. Help get them going in a conversation with someone else before you wander off to do your own thing.

Don’t let them get away with hiding in the bathroom

More than once, I have followed him to the bathroom to get out of an awkward conversation that has run its course. Hand them the pie and sit by them while bringing them into the group conversation. Shy people usually just need some time to warm up, and once we do, we usually become much more talkative.

We can be as interesting or funny as any Greg in the right circumstances and with the right pie.

So just — be normal. Follow the basic rules of socializing with a dash more patience. If you have asked someone a question, let them answer.

Do what you can, but accept you may not be able to have the kind of conversation you want with someone who's shy or less-social

Looking forward to socializing with you—and probably petting your dog too—at a dinner party this year! She lives in London. A quick morning to help you start each day on the right foot. Take a look. Review our Privacy Policy for more information about our privacy practices. Check your inbox Medium sent you an at to complete your subscription.

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Small talk for shy people in the office

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