Where to Meet People If You're Shy

Finding New Friends for Shy People

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Hello shy people! You're probably reading this because you're more comfortable with the online world than with meeting people in person. And if you're shy, you probably get mistaken for being introverted. But being shy isn't the same thing. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, says on her blog that "Shyness is the fear of negative judgment, and introversion is a preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments."

In other words, you can be a shy extrovert. Or, you can be a shy introvert. But shyness and introversion are not interchangeable. Now that you know that, you can better recognize your own shyness and how you can deal with it when it comes to meeting new people.

Focus on Meeting People Through an Activity

If shyness is indeed a fear of negative judgment, one way to combat this is to find activities where the focus is not on engaging in conversation right away but on the activity itself. This way, you'll be able to chat in small doses slowly over time. Instead of feeling pressure to connect, you will be encouraged to do so as part of the activity which you share in common with everyone else there. Fear of judgment in this case, is limited.

Some activities to try:

  • Book groups: The focus is on the books you're reading and not on you. What's more, book clubs have a lot of introverts in them, which will allow you to remain quiet without feeling odd. You can add your opinions or just listen to what others shy. Either way, you'll be part of the activity and will be meeting people slowly month by month.
  • Volunteering: What better way to take the focus off of you than by giving your time for a cause? Helping out others also boosts your self-esteem.
  • Sports: Playing a sport makes you part of a team. That in and of itself gives you an "in" with new people.
  • Church groups: Getting involved in a class or Bible study will help you learn about your faith as you meet new people.
  • Classes: A class is always a good way to meet new people because you'll be expanding your mind, learning something new, and interacting with people on projects.

Become a Regular Somewhere

One way to feel more confident is to frequent the same places often. This way, you'll be more comfortable in your surroundings and when new people come in you'll be the one that knows the environment better than they do.

For example, if you go to a coffee shop every morning, you'll eventually know the people that work there and regular customers by sight. You'll be able to confidently say good morning to them or call them by name. This helps you get to know them, and also allows you to feel more comfortable chatting with new people as well.

Some activities to try:

  • Hang out at the Laundromat at a regular time, say every other Saturday morning.
  • Take the same class at the gym every week.
  • Go to the same coffee shop every day before work. Allow enough time to sit, enjoy your drink, and take in your surroundings.
  • Frequent a local restaurant and asked to be seated where there are more people. You might meet a few regulars this way.

Just How Shy Are You?

Most people experience shyness on some level depending on the situation. For example, a normally outgoing businessman might hesitate before entering a networking event, feeling shy about approaching people and introducing himself. Or a newly single woman who normally has no problem talking with strangers will feel a bout of shyness before attending a mixer or going on a date.

But continued shyness is usually associated with another self-esteem issue. If you can work on your overall self-esteem you may be able to help debilitating shyness that prevents you from making friends. Keep in mind, however, that you might feel a little bit shy always in certain situations, and that's okay.

Make a pact with yourself that you will go out of your comfort zone in small steps (like smiling at three people, asking a question of someone at an event, or striking up a conversation with at least one person) and after you do, you can assess how you feel. Often, just talking with one person at an event can increase your confidence level.