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The Best Conversation Starters For Shy People

Being shy can be a barrier to enjoying social situations, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re shy, there are still plenty of ways to start a conversation. Even if you don’t consider yourself a natural conversationalist, you can still find ways to connect with others.

For some, shyness stems from a fear of saying the wrong thing or of being judged. Others may feel shy because they don’t know what to say. Whatever the reason, there are ways to overcome this shyness and interact with new people.

Two women talking

These conversation starters for shy people will help you get the conversation going, no matter who you’re talking to. You can even try coupling these tips with some positive affirmations for friendship or affirmations for introverts to boost your confidence.

Ask questions to start conversation

One great approach to starting a conversation when you’re shy is to ask questions. Asking questions shows you’re interested in the other person and can be a great way to get to know them better. If you’re shy, it’s helpful to have a few questions in mind that you can use to start a conversation. It is common for extroverts to enjoy talking about themselves, so asking personal questions can be a good way to connect with someone.

You can ask about their hobbies, interests, or anything else that you think might be a good conversation starter. If you’re stuck, ask about the current situation or setting. For example, if you’re at a party, you could ask the person how they know the host. If you’re in class, you could ask the person what they think of the professor.

Here are some simple questions that you can use the next time you’re feeling tongue-tied:

  • What are your thoughts on this event/venue/place?
  • How do you know the host?
  • What’s your favorite thing about this event?
  • Have you been to this event before?
  • What do you do for a living?
  • What are some of your hobbies?
  • Have you seen _? I’ve been wanting to watch it/read it/etc.
  • What are your thoughts on __?
  • Do you have any recommendations for _?
  • Where are you from?
  • What do you like to do in your free time?
  • What school did you go to?
  • Do you have any pets?
Two women talking with juice and plants on table

Make a statement to start conversation

Making a statement is a great way to start a conversation, especially if you have something in common with the person you’re talking to. If you’re shy, look for opportunities to make a statement that will interest the other person. For example, if you’re at a party and see someone wearing a shirt from your favorite band or musician, you could say “I love that shirt! I’m a big fan of that band/musician.”

Statements can also be used to express an opinion or share something interesting. For example, you could say “I can’t believe it’s already June! Time seems to fly by lately.”

You can also use statements to ask questions indirectly. For example, you could say “I’m trying to decide whether I should get a cat or a dog. What do you think is better?”

Here are some simple statements that can help start up a conversation:

  • I love your shoes/shirt/hat/etc.
  • I’m so excited about this event. I’ve been looking forward to it all week!
  • I’m a big fan of ______
  • I’m really interested in the topic of this event. I’ve been wanting to learn more about it.
  • This is awkward. I don’t know what to say. (Sometimes being honest about your shyness can help the other person feel at ease and lighten up the situation)
  • I was just thinking about how _____
  • I’m really not sure what I think about ______
  • I’ve been meaning to ask you _______
  • I was thinking about you the other day and I wanted to _____
  • I just remembered that I _____

Use humor to start a conversation

Another approach is to use your sense of humor. Humor is a great way to start a conversation, especially if you’re shy. If you can make the other person laugh, they’ll feel more comfortable engaging and interacting with you. Here are some ways to use humor to start a conversation:

  • Make a funny observation about your surroundings.
  • Start with a clean joke that you know is appropriate for the situation.
  • Make a funny comment about something that’s happening in the news.
  • Share a funny story from your life and ask the other person if they’ve ever had a similar experience.
  • Ask the other person if they’ve ever had a funny encounter with someone famous.
  • Make a joke about your shyness.
  • Ask the other person if they’ve ever had an awkward social encounter.
Two people talking and pouring drink into glass

Compliment the other person

Typically, people love being complimented. So, if you’re shy, try giving the other person a compliment. Compliments show that you’re interested in the other person and can be a great way to break the ice.

Just make sure that your compliment is genuine and not overly familiar. For example, you wouldn’t want to say “I love your dress! It would look great on me!” Instead, try something like “That color looks great on you.”

Here are some simple compliments to help you engage in conversation:

  • You have such a great smile!
  • You’re so articulate! I can’t believe you’re shy.
  • I can tell you’re really intelligent. What do you do for a living?
  • You’re so funny!
  • You’re so easy to talk to. I’m so glad we met.
  • You’re such a great listener.
  • You have such a great sense of style. Where do you shop?
  • You’re very well-spoken. What’s your background?
  • You’re very charming. Have you always been this way?

Ask for help (even if you don’t need it)

If you’re shy or introverted, asking someone for help can be a great way to start conversation. Making someone feel needed can be an excellent way to get someone to open up to you. Here are some ways you can ask for help:

  • I’m sorry, I don’t know anybody here. Would you mind introducing me to some people?
  • I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing. Can you help me?
  • I’m looking for the restroom. Can you tell me where it is?
  • Can you help me carry this plate of food?
  • Can you help me find a seat? I don’t see any open chairs.
  • I’m not sure what this event is about. Can you fill me in?
  • I’m trying to find my friend. Have you seen them?
  • Could you help me find the host of this event? I need to thank them for inviting me.
  • Would you mind taking a photo of me in front of this/with someone?
Group of girls talking with appetizers and drinks

Conversation tips for shy people

Starting conversation simply comes easier to some people. If you find it difficult, don’t fret! Many people have been in your shoes before. The key is to not let your shyness win. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and worry about what everyone thinks of you. When you’re in a situation where you need to start conversation, take a deep breath and remember these tips:

Use honesty to relate

Being honest about your feeling when you’re uncomfortable can help the other person feel more comfortable as well. If you’re shy or introverted, try being honest about it with the other person. Here are some ways you can be honest about your shyness:

  • I’m so sorry, I’m really shy. I hope you don’t mind
  • I’m so shy. I don’t know what to say.
  • I’m really nervous.
  • Thank you for talking to me. I know I’m really shy and it’s hard for me to talk to people.
  • I appreciate you being patient with me. I know it’s not easy to talk to someone who’s shy.

Use positive body language

It’s important to use positive body language when meeting someone new or engaging in conversation. If you approach someone with a smile and open body language, they’ll likely feel more comfortable. Make sure you keep your arms uncrossed, face the other person, and maintain eye contact. 

Nodding your head and giving small affirmations like “yes” or “uh-huh” can also show that you’re interested in the conversation and encourage the other person to keep talking.

Here are some body language tips for conversation.

  • Smile (genuinely)
  • Make eye contact and maintain it during conversation
  • Stand up straight and keep your arms uncrossed
  • Lean in slightly to show your interest 
  • Nod your head to show you are listening
  • Mirror the other person’s body language
  • Use props (anything from a book you’re reading to a piece of jewelry you’re wearing)

Be an active listener

Being a good listener is important in any conversation. If you’re shy or introverted, make sure you’re an active listener. This means not only hearing what the other person is saying, but also engaging with what they’re saying. By being a good listener, the conversation will flow naturally.

Here are some tips for being an active listener.

  • Make eye contact with the person who is talking
  • Don’t interrupt the speaker
  • Listen for nonverbal cues as well as what is being said
  • Repeat back what you heard to show that you were paying attention
  • Ask questions about what the other person is saying
  • Avoid talking about yourself too much
  • Don’t judge or give advice, just listen

There are many ways to start a conversation as a shy person (even if its uncomfortable at first). You can ask for help, use statements, or compliment the person you’re trying to speak to. The most important thing is to be genuine and interested in the other person. With a little practice, you’ll be able to start conversations easily.