The Bright Side of Being Shy

While shyness is most often considered an undesirable trait, there are positive aspects to it as well. An article published by the Huffington Post in 2014 explains why being shy shouldn’t be so harshly frowned upon. In this post, we recount some of the findings presented in their article.

Firstly, shyness is quite common, with over 40% of North Americans reporting that they are “shy” or feel shyness in relation to at least some measures of social interaction. There are of course many known negative attributes to shyness that could hinder the formation of meaningful relationships, such as discomfort with eye contact and perceptible disinterest in others, but studies show that shy people are actually quite concerned with what others think of them. According to experts, the trait should not be painted in such an exclusively negative light, as it does carry some social advantages. We have listed some of them here.

Shy people pay attention

It has been found that shy individuals are actually alert to aspects of conversations that others are not. This allows them to act as an attentive observer in social situations. Shy people often give off the impression that they are disinterested in the content of conversations, but this is most often not the case – they are simply attending in a different, and perhaps more profound manner. There is more depth to their attention in relation to the the surface-level attending that takes place during small-talk, for example. Further, studies have shown that shy individuals seem to be superior at properly identifying the facial expressions of others, indicating that they do possess the empathy and emotional awareness that is essential to forming close relationships.

Shy people are deep thinkers

Shy individuals are most often also very quiet, but there is usually a great deal going on in their minds. With shyness, comes a tendency to engage in frequent inward reflection. The notion of thinking before one acts is characteristic of many shy individuals. You won’t often hear a shy person ruminating over a regrettable comment they made at a dinner party. Further, their ability to engage in profound, and often intellectual thought leads to making sounder decisions. Timid deep thinkers often also possess a highly creative mind, which is an asset in our modern day workforce and society.

Shy people are good listeners

This may sound like a common justification used to excuse individuals who don’t say much during social interactions, but it is often true of shy individuals. Shy people are usually highly attuned to what each member of an interaction is saying, thus giving them the potential to be very good at conversations. They pay attention and absorb details from a place of genuine interest and often empathetic or intellectual manner. While giving a response might be their biggest challenge, most shy individuals actually possess the skills to provide the most effective, interesting, and intelligent responses in conversations and helping relationships.

And there you have it – some clear advantages of a shy personality. The next time you’re given a hard time for being timid or introverted, you could share some of these with your pestering peers. Remember, shyness is not a reflection of reality, but rather, a reflection of perceived reality. If you are shy, you likely possess the qualities that will make you a superior conversationalist – the challenge is simply believing it.

Thank you to Lindsay Holmes of the Huffington Post for many of the findings presented in this article. Huffington Post: 04/11/2014 08:25 am ET | Updated Apr 11, 2014