This article in Well+Good provides some tips we can use the next time we are trying to connect with someone who is shy.
1. Make space for them to speak
The first instinct for many people is to rush to fill a pause in the conversation, simply because we are not comfortable with the silence. However, psychologist Chloe Carmichael, PhD points out that when speaking with a shy person, realise that the more you speak, the less they need to take responsibility for keeping the conversation going. Instead, intentionally leave space after you speak to make it clear that you are waiting for them to speak and are interested in their thoughts. Asking open-ended questions can also help to encourage more dialogue.
2. Mirror their vibe
We tend to relax in familiar situations, so mirroring their interaction can help them feel more comfortable. For instance, if you are receiving two-word answers, giving short answers will keep the conversation at their pace and allow them to feel more comfortable taking responsibility for the conversation. If they are sitting curled up on a couch, try taking the same position. Dr Carmichael advises that “once you’ve achieved some synchronicity, then you might try to subtly open up your body a bit. And you might just find that they naturally do, too.”
3. Narrate your experience
If the conversation is starting to feel a little awkward, it can help to tell them how you are feeling. Dr Carmichael suggests using phrases such as ‘I don’t want you to feel like I’m just talking at you,’ or ‘I’d really like to hear what you have to say about this’, to make it clear that they can feel comfortable sharing their opinions.
4. Take the focus off them
A group conversation can be less intimidating for a shy person, as it takes the burden off them to respond as often. However, remember to actively engage the shy person in conversation so they do not just fade into the background. Depending on the situation, doing an activity together such as working out, or playing a board game, can ease the pressure while providing natural topics of conversation.
It’s also important to know when someone is not in the mood for conversation, so if after trying using these tools you are sensing greater reluctance to engage, it may be best to gently end the conversation.
Reading a person’s body language, and honing our interpersonal skills are all things that we learn over time, often with much trial and error. However, speaking to a professional such as a counsellor, life coach or therapies such as Access Consciousness Bars® and kinesiology may help all of us to gain confidence when building relationships with loved ones. Click on the image below to book a free consultation call with our qualified complementary health practitioners.
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