How to Act Shy

Three Parts:Dressing ConservativelyModerating Your BehaviorActing Shy in Conversation

There are times when people might want to fly under the radar and act shy. This could be a way to cope with not wanting to draw attention to yourself because you didn’t complete work or even because you don’t want to engage with other people.[1] By dressing conservatively and moderating your behavior, you can give the impression that you’re shy and keep attention on you at bay.

Part 1
Dressing Conservatively

  1. Image titled Act Shy Step 1
    Wear simple clothing. One of the first things people notice is what you are wearing. Put on simple, monochromatic clothes that cover your body to give the impression that you’re shy and don’t want to expose anything about yourself.[2]
    • Choose dark and conservative colors like black or navy. Avoid bright colors or prints that draw attention to you like animal prints, red or yellow.[3] For example, both guys or girls could wear a pair of black jeans with a simple black tee. If you want to wear a print, keep it small and in subdued colors.
    • For girls, avoid showing skin with deep cutouts, sheer fabrics, or lace.[4]
    • For guys and girls, avoid wearing clothes that are too tight or pants are low cut or loose and expose your underthings.
    • For guys, button up dress shirts to the top and wear pants such as khakis or dress trousers.
  2. Image titled Act Shy Step 2
    Accessorize simply and minimally. Just as having simple clothing can help give the impression that you’re shy, so can simple and minimal accessories. From shoes to jewelry, keep any extras to your outfit as uncluttered as possible.
    • Wear as little jewelry as possible. If you like to have a piece or two of jewelry, wear items that are simple and not flashy. For example, you could wear a pair of small and simple studs or tiny hoops. Stick with the same principle on rings, bracelets, and necklaces.[5]
    • Avoid piercings in less common areas such as your nose, lip, or eyebrow. These will invariably draw attention to you.
    • For girls, put on shoes that are either flat or have a very small heel so that you don’t appear taller. You may also want to avoid shoes that show your toes.[6]
    • For guys, wear running shoes or trail shoes in a non-flashy color like black.
    • Carry a bag in a simple, neutral color. For girls, make sure that it’s not large or has a lot of “bling” on it. For guys, a simple backpack in a color like black won’t draw attention to you.
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    Keep hair and makeup natural. Wearing elaborate hairstyles and a lot or garish makeup can make you appear outgoing and that you want attention. Style your hair simply and apply little or no makeup that enhances your natural beauty.[7]
    • For guys, keep your hair short or in a shorter style that lets you hide your shyness behind the strands.
    • For girls, wear your hair down or style it in a simple, low ponytail.[8]
    • Keep your hair a natural color and avoid dying it or strands of it different colors such as pink or blue.[9]
    • Avoid using too many hair products, such as gel, which can make your hair appear slick and crunchy.
    • Put on no makeup or minimal makeup that just enhances your natural beauty. For example, you could swipe on a coat of mascara and some colorless lip balm. Using a lot of makeup, such as red lipstick or glittery eye shadow, can draw attention to you.[10]
    • Keep your nails short. For girls, keep them simply painted or don’t paint them at all.[11]

Part 2
Moderating Your Behavior

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    Speak minimally, slowly, and softly. Being quiet and introverted can often signal a shy person.[12] By speaking slowly and as little as necessary and keeping your voice soft, you can reinforce that you are shy.[13]
    • Keep your volume to a minimum, which may prompt people to repeat what you’re saying and signal to them that you’re shy.[14]
    • Avoid yelling, even if you are upset. In these cases, you may just want to avoid saying anything to help reinforce that you are shy.
    • Take your time to respond to questions and reply as briefly as possible. Don't give away too much information and act uncomfortable if someone presses you to disclose too much.[15]
    • Ask as few questions as possible, which can signal that you’re uncomfortable talking or engaging with others.
    • Act nervous when you’re talking by letting your voice quiver or make longer pauses to convey that you’re thinking about what you want to say to not rock the boat.[16]
    • Try blushing when asked questions or when you need to speak, which can be a sign of discomfort and shyness.[17]
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    Avoid eye contact. When you’re speaking with people, look at the floor frequently and blink a lot. This can show the other person you’re uncomfortable and signal that you’re shy.
    • Look at the floor or past the person to whom you are speaking.[18]
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    Use shy body language. Certain body language can cue that you are shy, including avoiding eye contact. Try using other forms of body language that reinforce the impression that you are shy.[19] Some examples of shy body language are:
    • Crossing your arms or legs
    • Touching your neck or fingering you collar
    • Blushing
    • Darting eyes
    • Fidgeting.[20]
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    Position yourself at the back of spaces. If you are in class or meetings at work, or even at social functions, position yourself at the back of a space or in a corner. This can keep focus on others and may also discourage people from engaging with you.
    • Sit in the back row in classes or at meetings. If the room is set up in a circle formation, sit as far away from the person convening the meeting as possible. You can also arrive early and sit in a corner.
    • Stand or sit as far away from a party or gathering host as you can. Most people will want to talk to her and the farther away you are, the less likely you may be to have to talk to other people.
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    Stay away from group functions or new situations. Withdrawing from social interactions or situations that are new is a sign of shyness.[21] Avoid going to group functions or attending new situations if you can.
    • Kindly decline invitations to any group functions, which can make it seem like you are hesitant and shy.[22] Be aware that this may make people think you’re anti-social and they may stop asking you to attend if you decline often enough.
    • Position yourself at the wings of social functions if you do attend.[23]
    • Talk to one person if you are in a new situation.
    • Hesitate to accept if someone presses you attend an event.[24]
  6. Image titled Act Shy Step 9
    Let others take initiative. People who are outgoing usually have an easier time starting events or projects. Allowing other people to take the lead on things such as projects, parties can help you stay in the background and seem shy.
    • Don’t volunteer for anything. Let other people assign you some function. You can blush or seem embarrassed if you want to act more shy.
    • Casually mention something you’d like to start and let someone else get the ball rolling. Offer support where you can.

Part 3
Acting Shy in Conversation

  1. Image titled Act Shy Step 10
    Let the other person lead the chat. When you’re talking to someone else, let her lead the conversation. This can indicate that you’re shy and may make you seem mysterious and more irresistible.
    • Avoid being totally silent, which may make your conversation partner think something is wrong with you or her.
    • Let the other person ask questions or offer longer statements before you respond.
    • Make sure to glance often and directly at your chatting partner.[25]
    • Consider repeating what the person says in a playful way. For example, “you’re a boxer, are you?”
  2. Image titled Act Shy Step 11
    Answer with your gestures. Give your conversation partner answers with your eyes, smile, and head gestures. This can make you appear shy—and cute.
    • Answer funny or flirty questions with a smile and tilting your head to one side.
    • Widen your eyes, look directly at the person, smile, and nod your head if your chatting partner says something that sounds good to you.[26]
    • Keep your tone light and easy. This might involve raising your voice a bit.[27]
    • Glance away briefly when you’re talking, which can make you seem shy.[28]
    • Blush on cue if you can.
  3. Image titled Act Shy Step 12
    Maintain personal space. Keeping a little distance between you and your chatting partner can make you seem shy. Don’t stand too far away, just enough to keep the conversation going and her interest in you.
    • Sit close to the person and keep a hand on the table somewhat near to hear. This can indicate you want to touch her during conversation but are too shy to make a move.
    • Touch the person instead of answering questions. Keep the touch quick and superficial. Follow it up with a look or brief answer if need be.


  • Don't change your behavior from being loud and bubbly one day to being really shy the next. People may suspect you’re faking.
  • Avoid volunteering information, but don't keep it all to yourself either.
  • Don't act shy around your friends. If they know the real you, they will think something is wrong and may ask you about it.
  • Do not force yourself to change yourself if you are not typically shy. Work slowly at it, and it may be easier to transition into.


  • Remember to be kind and not hurt someone’s feelings when you’re acting shy.
  • Pretending to be someone else might make some people feel like you are lying to them. It may cause you to lose friends

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Personality Traits and Attributes