Shy people may "live trapped between two fears: being invisible and insignificant to others, and being visible but worthless," notes Bernardo J. Carducci, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Indiana University Southeast. The shy girl you know probably wants desperately to join you in conversation but is too overcome with doubt and worry to make a move. Take the time to get to know her and make her comfortable, and you will be rewarded with a loyal friend who -- according to Carducci -- will likely offer a listening ear whenever you need it.
Shy girls need more of a "green light" to talk than those who are not shy, says communications trainer Don Gabor, in his book "Talking With Confidence for the Painfully Shy." Give a shy girl this extra encouragement by smiling, offering eye contact, introducing yourself and asking an easy to answer question such as, "How do you know the host?" if you are at a gathering, or "Where are you from?" in a more private setting. Show her that you are a person who talks easily to others -- and her comfort level will increase.
Make Small Talk
Helping a shy girl to open up involves many of the same skills that you would use when making small talk with any acquaintance. Offer topics for conversation such as favorite movies, restaurants, music or hobbies. As you identify topics that seem to spark an interest in the shy girl, ask her open-ended questions to learn more. Be careful not to get too personal at first, warns Gabor -- steer clear of emotional topics such as health, money, family problems or moral values. Be interested in what she has to say and offer some personal information about yourself -- gradually she will start to trust you more and open up.
Use Electronic Communication
If you want to speed up the getting-to-know-you phase with a shy girl, consider moving the conversation online. Carducci advises that shy individuals are often more comfortable opening up through electronic communication -- so much so that some shy people may spill their secrets when hiding behind a computer screen. Be prepared for a drastically different personality from the shy girl that you have been talking to -- and the need to eventually get her to open up in person in the same way that she has done online.
Don't Give Up
It takes time to get a shy girl to talk. Don't give up too soon, and don't feel like you are doing something wrong. The shy girl needs more time than the average person to build trust and feel comfortable talking to you. Eventually, if you are consistent in your efforts, you will get to know the person that lives beneath the shyness.
- Marie Dubuque: How to Get a Shy Person to Open Up and Talk to You More
- Psychology Today: The Cost of Shyness
- Talking With Confidence for the Painfully Shy; Don Gabor