Shyness is a funny thing that can sometimes ruin a good day. Explanations and advice from a psychological perspective!
There has always been one thing that I have admired a lot: people who are not shy. Those who always seem at ease in society, who seem to reach out naturally to others, who seem to take pleasure in meeting new people. To me, these people have a kind of super mysterious magical power.
My brother, for example, is able to walk into a store, make salespeople laugh, bond with strangers, and walk away with clothes and 10% off, just like that, by two beats, three movements, and in front had fun! For a part of the population (including me), this exercise would be difficult, even inconceivable. For people like me, social interactions can be especially complicated.
According to a study by psychologist Philip Zimbaro, between 40 and 60% of people exhibit some degree of shyness. Shy, cheer up: we are not alone!
The definitions of shyness can vary from one opinion to another, from one discipline to another. It is commonly accepted that shyness is characterized by social anxiety (or at least social “embarrassment”) and behavioral inhibition.
Jennifer Urbanis Blackfort, researcher in neuroscience, specifies that shyness could be "seen" in our brain. When we are faced with a new face, our "cerebral amygdala", which elicits our emotional reactions (including fear), would react with intensity. The more we were confronted with this face, the less intense the reaction would be: we became familiar with it, we accepted it emotionally, it no longer scares us.
With the timid, things don't necessarily turn out that way. The researcher and her team found that for shy people, "familiarization" does not always happen, and that the cerebral amygdala is always "over-activated". So, even if we often meet our colleagues, our grocer, our general practitioner, our neighbors ... it is possible that we are still a little embarrassed at the idea of interacting with them!
Often, shyness is perceived as a flaw (who has ever heard the famous “he / she is not going to eat you” or “do NOT be shy”?), But for psychologist Christophe André, things are much more nuanced.
We have been living in a community for quite a while: we all more or less agree on this. In the communities, there are people who are reserved, others who are less, others who are not at all. In groups, the timid often play the role of "peacemakers," "moderators," just as essential as any other for the group to function. In other words, to function, society also needs the timid!
Christophe André also emphasizes that shyness, which is generally associated with "introversion", pushes the timid to take time before speaking, or to take a risk. As a result, the timid are less likely than others to say something stupid, to speak without thinking, or to put themselves in danger.
The psychologist is not saying that a shy person will never come up with a nice bullshit, nor that the non-shy are brainless who always talk without thinking! He explains that there are advantages and disadvantages to each situation. Sometimes your shyness can inflate you tremendously because you didn't dare to do this, or say that ... and other times, it will have allowed you to avoid a difficult situation, or to help calm a conflict!
Is informal conversation particularly difficult for you? You don't know what to say to your interlocutors?
According to psychologist Bernardo Carducci, having the ability to make conversation would be a skill… and a skill, it can be worked! To improve your ability to chat, let’s take a look at the 5-step conversation model proposed by the psychologist.
It may sound completely logical, but the first step to starting a conversation would be to signal our urge to chat, to send a hint to the person we are interested in. To do this, Carducci advises us to make a little comment on the environment, or on the situation we share with the person in question (Oh man! It's hot in here, isn't it? ”,“ My God! there are a lot of people in this party! ”).
Maybe you loathe these kinds of remarks, and these phrases sound utterly absurd to you, but let's keep in mind that they are just serving as a signal to the other. They allow you to express, "OKAY, I'm ready to talk, are you too? "; if the other responds to your comment, they've received your signal (and depending on their response, whether or not they're ready to chat with you).
Commenting on the weather or how many people are in the room is fine, but it won't keep the conversation going. You have to give a little bit of yourself, and mention something about yourself ("hey, I love this pizza"). If you don't know the other one, you can specify your name, explain what brings you into the situation ("my name is X, I am accompanying Y, who is Z's cousin") ...
In this step, the goal is to stretch out poles, and allow the other to bounce back, to ask you questions.
You signaled your urge to converse, you told him your name, he told you his… Now it's time to keep the breath going and explore possible conversation topics.
For example, you can relaunch him when he broaches a subject by rephrasing what he just said (“oh well, you don't like pizza, do you?”), By asking another question (“but what do you like then?”), or by making a comment (“It’s uncommon to not like pizza”).
The main thing is not to put pressure on yourself: often, in a conversation, we want to be bright, funny, charming ... in short, we want to be exceptional, unforgettable. But most conversations are "normal": you certainly don't expect your interlocutor to give you a stand-up show, and for his part, he probably doesn't wait for you to give him a complete review of the performance. last book by Thomas Piketty. What you are both waiting for is an exchange!
Sometimes thrown issues will flop. You will really want to talk about pizza, but your interlocutor has already told you his weird disenchantment for this dish? That's okay, there are loads of new topics to explore! Does he like quiche? burgers?
"So, you like yams? I ate it on my last ski vacation for thanksgiving! And you, do you like skiing? "
You may be able to talk about pizza and yams for hours on end, but the conversation will be enriched if you and the other person manage to make connections between your conversation topics (much like in the song of the three little cats)!
After a while, you want to be done with the conversation: you want to go to the bathroom, eat, or sofa break, or you just want to get rid of the other person.
To do this, you have to go through the same step as to initiate the conversation: you must let the other know that you intend to end the conversation, give them a signal so that they understand this intention and can respond to you. (“I'm going to go get a drink again…”, “Enjoy your evening…”).
If you enjoyed the exchange, you can let him know. If you really enjoyed it, you can even offer a second date for a crazy conversation, or offer to keep in touch!
For Carducci, the thing we need to keep in mind, both timid and non-timid, is to be benevolent. This is what will make a conversation enjoyable, successful, and satisfying.
When shyness is a daily handicap, or it's just a problem that bothers you at times, you can "work" on it. For example, there are behavioral therapies that can help you control your emotions.
Some therapies will offer you to confront a situation that particularly distresses you, in which the therapist can accompany you. In this case, the goal will be to stay in the anxiety-provoking situation, not to avoid it ... as you go, your emotions will regulate themselves, and the situation will no longer appear so scary.
On your own, you can also practice reaching out, for example by practicing asking strangers for the time, or striking up a conversation with your grocer!