Dear Drizzle, I wrote to you on June 23 asking for advice on helping my shy sister-in-law, and you asked me to write back indicating whether she viewed her shyness as an obstacle. The answer is yes. She knows it is her biggest obstacle, but she's afraid to speak to strangers (anyone she's come into contact with fewer than, say, five times) for fear of sounding stupid. She has expressed admiration for my ease around people and I've given her ample opportunity to see how it's done, but I think she just needs her five or six initial contacts. Should I try fixing her up (without telling either person it's a fix up)? If so, what would be the best way to go about this?Drizzle answers:
When I was growing up, our community of elves was fairly small. Everyone knew everyone else, and we had a chance to get to know each other. Elves are naturally shy, but none of us suffered because of it. Perhaps your sister-in-law should live in a small community, or join a group where there is a sense of community.Bradley says:
I'm kinda shy, and I used to worry about it. I thought there was something wrong with me! Then I discovered that some people are naturally introverted, and it's okay. If she needs time to warm up to strangers, "fixing her up" won't help. She needs to find ways she can meet people on a regular basis, like a computer users group, for example, or a volunteer organization.Kelsey adds:
I think you're being just a bit pushy yourself. She's not going to get over this shyness by admiring your social skills. She needs to believe in herself.Stone Head goes:
What is this shy crap all the time? In my day nobody was shy. What's the matter with you people, anyway?Punjabi offers:
If she believes that verbal intercourse is acceptable after six meetings, then I would exploit her faith with a safe, ordered, numerical plan, such as the following:
She is now on her way to an actual conversation.
- First meeting — Ignore him completely.
- Second meeting — Notice him briefly.
- Third meeting — Notice him and smile momentarily.
- Fourth meeting — Notice him coming and notice him going.
- Fifth meeting — Look at him, and nod as if in acquaintance.
- Sixth meeting — Make a remark pertinent to the occasion or situation, such as: "That's an interesting tie."
- Seventh meeting — Make a similar remark, but allow him to answer before moving on.
- Eighth meeting — Allow him to respond, and this time, respond in kind before leaving.
Previous: July 18, 1995 | Next: July 20, 1995