At the Art of Charm, I hear one expression over and over. It’s some variation of “I’m just shy” or “It’s hard for me to talk to people.” But shyness isn’t something that you are, it’s something that you do. You know what else is something that you do? Charisma. My company can take a wallflower and turn him into the life of the party by simply by teaching new personal habits. No joke.
It’s not that some people aren’t predisposed to shyness. Science “proves” it, with a recent study finding a gene involved in serotonin processing that makes some people more stressed by social stimuli than others. While you can’t really control your genes, you can control your behavior. A man who gets nervous in social situations has more to overcome than a man who doesn’t, but the task isn’t anywhere near impossible. In fact, I’ve done it myself. And a lot of other guys who seem naturally outgoing may have done so as well.
We’ve seen guys shier than Big Bang Theory’s Raj transform themselves into How I Met Your Mother’s Barney with a little knowledge and a lot of hard work, and you can too.
Now, what do we mean when we say “charisma”? It’s mostly a series of nuanced social skills. Note: I said skills, not super powers, meaning anyone can learn them. It takes a bit of work and discipline, but trust me: we’ve been doing social dynamics coaching for five years now and we’ve seen guys shier than Big Bang Theory’s Raj transform themselves How I Met Your Mother’s Barney with a little knowledge and a lot of hard work, and you can too. Try these proven techniques.
1. Adjust Your Body Language
We have a sort of mantra at the Art of Charm: “The body follows the mind and the mind follows the body.” What this means is that things you do physically influence you mentally, and vice versa. If you’re looking to ditch shyness, pay attention to your body language. Stand taller, shoulders back, with a broad grin on your face. Practice this in front of the mirror before you head out for the night. You’ll begin feeling a bit more confident, making it easier for you to relax in social situations.
It’s not the suit that gets the number. It’s the smile. And the pen, of course.
2. Get Outside of Your Comfort Zone
I’m not telling you to stroll into a bad neighborhood or the local biker bar. I’m just saying get out there and meet some new people. Shyness has an inertial quality about it. You don’t talk to people because you’re shy, then you become more shy because you’re not talking to people. Break that habit by making it a point to head out to a bar, grocery store or dog park and talk to at least one new person. It doesn’t count if they talk to you first. You need to initiate.
3. Use Your ‘Day Game’
Want to really break the back of your shyness? Spend half an hour walking around the mall with a buddy playing a game called “You Go.” You each take turns pointing to a (hopefully pretty) woman and saying something like “blonde in boots, go.” You then have to walk up to her and talk to her. You don’t have to get a number or have a long, intimate conversation. You just have to spend a few moments chatting with her. Then it’s his turn. Peer pressure can go a long way here.
4. Go Public
There are tons of opportunities for public speaking. Most cities of any size have open mike nights where you can show up, tell a story or some jokes in front of a bunch of people and then hustle off the stage. It’s definitely more advanced, but the first time you hear people laughing at your story—in a good way—you’re going to get an internal glow that little else can provide. Just make sure to call it quits before you run out of material. And don’t be surprised if it’s that much easier to engage with a single person once you leave the spotlight.
Overcoming shyness is a process, one that will take you weeks and months to completely accomplish, but it’s totally worth it. Shyness can be a prison. And breaking free can be ever so sweet.
Jordan Harbinger is a Wall Street lawyer turned Social Dynamics expert and coach. He is the owner and co-founder of The Art of Charm, a dating and relationships coaching company. If you dig this and want to learn more from Jordan and The Art of Charm team, visit theartofcharm.com. You can also interact with Jordan on Facebook.