How to Communicate With Shy, Introverted and Reserved People


Chatty friendliness is the first rule of face-to-face communication. Shy people communicate with poor eye contact, standing outside a crowd, saying very little and generally looking like they don’t need – or want – any contact. Our outgoing world insists shyness and introversion are abnormal, takes shy people at their own value and ignores them. But what if you were told that the body language of shy people communicates nothing to do with what he or she is really feeling inside? What if you were to know that in spite of all those hostility signals, the odds are good that a lively wit and warm heart lies underneath?

The first misconception is that the body language of shy people is shutting you out. It is not shutting you out – it is closing itself in. Their shyness is making them look hostile. But they don’t really want to freeze you out, the shyness response is locking them in.

Everyone feels shy at some point, but introverts feel the same shyness maybe a 1,000 times more. Extroverts jump in and simply talk the fear out of themselves. With introverts however, fear does not make words pour out of their mouths. It freezes the thoughts in their heads. Their mouths remain tightly shut, overwhelmed at the pace at which others are communicating. They begin to panic – which then makes everything worse.

Why are some people like this?

They are born that way. Most people are ambiverts, which means they slip from being introvert to extrovert depending on the situation. They are quiet and thoughtful sometimes, the life of the party at other times. Others are either mostly introvert, or extrovert and can’t just change the gears.

They are hypersensitive. Their nerve endings absorb more influences than their brain can process. This includes just the normal energy of another person. Needing to feel less overwhelmed – instead of reaching towards you – they back away.

They were badly hurt by contact with other people. Maybe someone they cared about made them feel their opinions and company were not wanted. They learned to wait for a sign that people welcome their participation.

Extroversion is valued because it puts our social fears at ease. Extroverts seem less afraid and are usually more entertaining. That takes pressure off everyone else. Many people are afraid of quiet and feel something is wrong if every second is not filled with talk. If the crowd senses a shy person it quickly expresses discomfort. The crowd ignores the shy person and talks over them. For all purposes the shy person ceases to exist. That only reinforces the rejection a shy person feels. A deep resentment begins to grow at the lack of support or understanding. A standoff develops because everyone feels rejected.

So here are some don’ts and do’s that extroverts can do to help solve the situation.


  • Don’t stare at or completely ignore shy people as if there is a big hole in the room and they are it. They will not get the hint and become suddenly talkative.
  • Don’t ask them why they’re so quiet. This tells them they are not acceptable and should be like somebody else.
  • Don’t presume they are ignoring you because they think you’re not good enough for their company. In fact they are probably giving you too much importance. The panic is all about their fear of your rejection.
  • Don’t presume that just because a person isn’t talking he or she is a snob, has nothing to say, is dull, boring or too lazy to talk.
  • Don’t presume they are quiet because they prefer to hear you talk only about yourself. Having a monologue thrown at them just reinforces the fact that, to you, they don’t exist.
  • Don’t be afraid of the silence. It really won’t hurt anyone.


  • Do approach a shy person with the same delight you show everybody else. It’s not about you – really. They are like that with every stranger. Most of the time they are relieved and grateful as hell that someone has noticed them and thinks they are interesting enough to approach.
  • Make eye contact with the shy one when throwing a remark out to the crowd. This signals he or she is part of the crowd.
  • Ask how they know the host and jump on anything that seems like a common experience. This will melt their reserve – but maybe not immediately. If they run to the food table or go pour themselves another drink, don’t take it personally. They may just need the space to absorb what’s happening. They will remember your gesture. They will remember that you did not treat them like a big hole in the room and they will be much more relaxed around you next time.
  • Be patient. A shy person has to take awhile to calm down, let their brain relax and allow thoughts to travel to the tongue. It may seem like you are doing all the work and that feels like a drag, but if you just put up with the darting eyes, and quick ‘yes’ and ‘no’ replies there’s a good chance it will pay off.

Or maybe it won’t. Some shy people are as boring as they look, as some extroverts are not as interesting as they think they are. It’s okay to walk away from both if you don’t feel a connection. But giving the shy person a try means at least the possibility of a new friend, contact or opportunity in your life that may not have existed before.


Source by Krystyna Hunt

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