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I'm shy, not snobby. How do I make people understand that?

I’m shy and I can’t stand it. I can never think of anything to say to people I’ve just met or to adults. I’m worried that people will think I’m stuck up or boring. Since I’m so quiet, I hardly ever get any attention and when I do talk, my voice gets shaky.
-Shy Not Snobby

Dear Shy Not Snobby,
Many confident women started as shy girls.  Since you crave attention and don’t want to be mistaken for a snob, start speaking up.  When you meet someone new, comment on what you two are doing.  “Isn’t this an exciting game/beautiful wedding/delicious picnic?”  The easiest way to break the ice is to give a compliment:  “Nice shirt,” “Great necklace,” “You have such a good accent in French,” “I like the poem you wrote.”  Most people like to talk about themselves, so ask questions:  “What’s your dog’s name?” “Have you ever read this book?”  “Did you have a good weekend?”  “How’s field hockey going?”  If you want people to show interest in you, show interest in them.
Adults are usually charmed when kids or teens ask polite questions.  Practice on easy people.  When your aunt says, “How’s school?”  instead of shrugging, tell her some little story, then ask, “How’s work?”  She won’t say, “None of you business”; she’ll be pleased that you cared enough to ask.  And when someone tell you a story?  Don’t just sit there.  Say, “That is hysterical!” or “You must have been worried,” or whatever else fits the moment.  Little by little, you’ll be speaking up naturally and getting others to talk, and that shakiness in your voice will disappear.

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BY CAROL WESTON ON 3/21/2014 12:00:00 AM


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