Nothing seems to bother non-shy people more than the reluctance of shy people to talk.
“What’s the matter with you?!! Speak up! Be assertive! Stop hiding from us!” – that’s their common refrain, especially in workplaces, at school, etc.
Why are social people like that? I think it’s starts with their instinctual need for communication. Never mind that they regularly lie to each other. Their desire for communication does not seem to be a desire for knowledge. Talking is just a kind of psychological food they need, and it has nothing to do with the truth.
Silent people make them nervous.
One of my shy readers told me how he was at a Christian studies conference where one of the group leaders complained repeatedly about him being so quiet. She was agitated and making him nervous, then he remembered what I said in The Shyness Guide:
Someone who is silent and avoidant, but confident, makes them nervous. Well, let them be nervous. Put your own anxiety on the shelf and let them experience it for a change. Learn to play your game, not theirs.
When he remembered that, he relaxed, remained his shy self throughout the rest of conference and enjoyed being there.
Social people never consider that the silence of shy people might be there for a reason.
To start with, if shyness is a natural leftover from a more recent hunter-gathering past (as I’ve said repeatedly in my books), that’s because it once assisted in the avoidance of predators, including human predators, and in hunting prey.
But today it also allows us to keep some distance from what is going on around us, and, if we aren’t disabled by anxiety, to get a better sense of the situation. That is, a silent nature is an aid in detachement, the psychological strategy that I advocate and describe in detail in The Shyness Guide.
Detachment allows you to assess situations and deal with them without anxiety, or at least reduced anxiety. People may not like it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good for you.
All of us, shy and non-shy, were probably happier when we lived our separate lives in the great wildernesses 100,000 years ago. We in small quiet hunter-gatherer families, and often alone, they in the larger, steadily growing, more and more talkative tribes.
Incidentally, when people tell you that that idea makes no biological sense, that humans are too vulnerable to survive in the wild alone, don’t fall for that. Loners have been at home in wilderness throughout recorded history – religious hermits, trappers, criminals and refugees, have survived alone.
Today many hikers prefer to hike alone. I’m one of them, and I’ve met many others. I can tell you that lone hikers are usually accomplished wilderness travelers.
Many hunters prefer to hunt alone, especially among native peoples.
But almost all the world’s pure hunter-gathering people have been eliminated now. Those of us who retain some of the old shy ways, apparently still fixed in our genes, unable to fully retreat back into the ancient forests that we came from, are left with no other way to be ourselves than to remain silent.
Remember that the next time you venture out in the social world. Talk when you want to talk, not when they say you should.
Or, just stay silent. Sometimes that’s the safest option.