The Shy Person’s Guide to Winning Friends and Influencing People

Kindness is a superpower

Michael Thompson
Forge
Published in
4 min readAug 13, 2019

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Credit: John M Lund Photography Inc/Getty Images

Act more confident. Push past your comfort zone. Stand like an alpha.

I grew up a shy introvert with a severe speech impediment, bombarded by such suggestions. Honestly, I’ve tried them all. I’ve also come to the conclusion that it’s a lot easier, and more effective, to be kind than to try to always act confident.

Over the past 18 years, I’ve worked in various “extrovert” sectors, such as sales and communication, and I’ve managed to consistently excel. I didn’t try to compete with the extroverts. I let them win at their game. Instead, I decided to invent my own — and went all-in on being as thoughtful as possible.

You may find some of the following suggestions basic, but that’s the point. If I’ve learned anything on my journey from being a shy, stuttering kid to a communication and relationship coach, it’s that doing the basics well leads to a job well done.

I didn’t try to compete with the extroverts. I let them win at their game. Instead, I decided to invent my own — and went all-in on being as thoughtful as possible.

Show that you see the people around you

In his book “If I Could Tell You Just One Thing,” entrepreneur Richard Reed asked Bill Clinton what most contributed to his success.

“I’ve come to believe that one of the most important things is to see people,” Clinton said. “The person who opens the door for you, the person who pours your coffee. Acknowledge them. Show them respect. The traditional greeting of the Zulu people of South Africa is ‘Sawubona’. It means ‘I see you.’ I try and do that.”

Yes, Bill Clinton is one of the most recognizable people in the world and has a reputation for being charming and charismatic. But there’s no reason you can’t follow his lead and commit to acknowledging each person you come into contact with today.

Heads down and phones out — most of us are oblivious to the world around us, including our fellow human beings. That’s why smiling, holding doors, and saying hello to…

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Michael Thompson
Forge
Writer for

Co-creator of two cool kids • Storytelling Coach •.Fast Co., Insider, Forbes • Free storytelling guide here: https://bit.ly/3h1KZeT