You're not just missing opportunities with the opposite sex—research shows shy people are less likely to be promoted. But you can change.
Step 1: Boost your self-esteem Determine why you’re so uncomfortable around people. If it’s due to something you can fix—your teeth, your education level, your body—take action to feel better about yourself. Go to a dentist, take a night class, start to exercise.
Step 2: Practice conversation skills Practice your conversation skills by chatting up people you’ll probably never see again—the woman behind you in the checkout line, the guy sitting next to you on the train, people walking their dogs.
Step 3: Practice body language When you have trouble clicking with someone verbally, try matching their body position physically. If they’ve got a hand on their hip, do the same—and their brain will be tricked into thinking you’re hitting it off!
Step 4: Test your abilities Once you’re confident you can start a conversation, test your newfound skills at group gatherings. And don’t just talk to one person and call it a night; the more you practice, the easier it will get.
TIP: Approach someone who is standing alone, looking uncomfortable; they’ll be grateful you made the first move, and you’ll get a confidence boost from their receptiveness.
Step 5: Breathe deeply Practice the relaxation technique of deep breathing. That way, when you start to feel self-conscious, you’ll be able to calm yourself with a few deep breaths.
Step 6: Relax Whenever you walk into a room full of people, remind yourself that 48% of them are as nervous as you are—and the rest are too busy thinking about themselves to notice you!
FACT: Fifteen to 20% of people are born with the tendency to be shy.