I'm the professional quiet guy sitting in the back corner avoiding all eye contact with absolutely everyone. Completely unapproachable, so much that people get uncomfortable just by looking at me. Although I've trained myself to become outgoing when it's convenient. I had no clue about social dynamics when I was younger.
I'll show you a few ways to get shy / introverts / quiet ones / or whatever else you want to call us, to speak.
All of us have past traumas that haunt us for years. For some people, it affects us socially and emotionally.
You should understand that since we spend most of the day not speaking, we find it quite uncomfortable to speak. Especially those first few words which will never be loud or clear enough to be understood. Our voice is not calibrated, so we may speak too soft, or too loud.
Here's a few ways to get to us quiet ones to speak, from a quiet one's perspective:
1. Praise. Although we may not seek validation, we still want it. Compliment the subtle behaviors and actions, we are aware of all of them. You won't find us dancing in public or yelling out jokes. We won't roast others and neither will we complement them. We won't make a scene, yet we secretly crave approval from the masses. We also find comfort in silence. Praise the silence; it's a big part of who we are.
2. Ask questions, lots of them, yes we'll find it uncomfortable. But we're okay with that, more uncomfortable is the feeling we get after you leave without knowing who we really are. Expect a lot of yes, no, and short answers. We find it uncomfortable to speak so we will try our best to summarize our answers as much as we can. You'll have to dig and dig for answers, but we'll love you for the genuine interest.
3. Persist. Don't give up. Keep trying to make us speak. Try to get us involved in whatever social activity you're up to. Invite us to whatever and even if we don't show up, keep inviting us. Yes, us quiet ones are very hard to deal with. Most don't even understand us. If you persist, maybe you will.
4. Tell us all about yourself first and maybe you'll get something out of us. The beginning of the conversation should be 90% about you and only 10% about us. We are scared of not being good enough, we want to know your story. We want to relate to you before you can relate to us. We'll make sure that you know if we don't like you, just watch our eyes.
Few extra tips: Treat us as if we were already friends. We hate the "getting to know you" process, the small talk. It's all foreign to us. So treat us as if we were already your friend. Don't just invite us to play a game, we won't play unless you grab us by the hand and get us into the game. You'll have to show us how to have fun for us to learn to feel comfortable.
For the quiet ones:
If you want to understand a bit of social dynamics, here's a few reads:
- How to Talk to Anyone, By Leil Lowndes
- Compelling People, By John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut
- What Every BODY is Saying, By Joe Navarro and Marvin Karlins
Enjoy life my friends.