Not a talker? Have a little faith in yourself

November 28, 2006|by MADDIE WUNDERLICH

There are many types of talkers out there in the world. There are good talkers, boring talkers, people who talk way too fast, ramblers and the scared people who curl up in corners.

It seems that no one addresses the people who are scared to talk to others. So I decided to do some research. Why should people be afraid to talk? What makes shy people so distant and silent?

After much thought and listening to hundreds of conversations, I think I agree with the most common conclusion: Their self-confidence is lacking.

It seems like a problem with a simple solution, but it is very hard to address. What leads to a person having low self-confidence? The answers are not hard to find.


My first finding was that kids' peers can make them insecure and nervous talking in groups of people. Some people bad-mouth a person to their face. Sometimes, by gossiping about a person behind their back, one person can destroy the self-confidence of another.

The second finding is parents who do not listen. Some parents are so focused on what they want their kids to do that their children never get to find themselves. This danger of not being what their parents want can make kids shy and unsure, according to Courtney Ward, 17 and a senior at Hagerstown North High School, who I interviewed for this article. "Teens may be scared to talk, because they don't want to have a bad parent reaction, so they don't talk at all," Courtney says.

OK, so how can we get kids who are shy, hurt or scared to talk? That is hard and simple at the same time. For the outgoing type, this is easier. The talkative person can approach the shy person with a smile and a greeting that is friendly and sincere. If you see the same person again, keep trying to make small talk and build trust or bring out interests that you might have in common. To sum this part up: talking + trust = conversation.

So now the harder part - being a shy or hurt person and trying to start a conversation. Here's my advice: Confident conversation comes with practice. So keep trying. Not all people are nasty, and many are sincere.

Remember, trust is needed to carry a good and friendly conversation. For hurt or scared people, trust might be hard. Keep an open mind and try your hardest to talk about yourself and your interests. You will find that there are people who are interested in you and your interests.

Conversation tips

In order to have an interesting conversation, you have to be an interesting person. Be involved in activities, so that you will have something to talk about. If you don't do anything but sit around watching TV or playing video games, there's not a whole lot to talk about.

Rather than spending a lot of time thinking about how uncomfortable you are, spend quiet moments during the day thinking about different subjects and how you feel about them. If you're really sure about what you think about different subjects, talking about it becomes much easier. Think about: Do you like your teacher, softball, soccer? Do you like music? What kind of music? Do you like to read? What are your favorite books and why do you like them? Do you prefer Nintendo or PlayStation?

Talk about yourself and your interests. Don't be disappointed if every kid doesn't share your interests. Each of us is different, with different interests. The way we learn who we like to be with and who we want to be our friends is by honestly talking about who we are.

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes kids think asking questions is being nosy. Most people like to be asked questions about themselves. It shows that you are interested in them.

The key to a good conversation is balance. Take turns listening and talking. Really listen to what the other person is saying so that you can make a comment or ask a question to keep the conversation going.

Remember that talking to other kids should be fun. Being ridiculous or silly sometimes is also part of getting to know a new friend.

- From, a Web site of advice for shy kids, their teachers and their families.

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