10 Good Things About Being Shy

There are some advantages to being shy.
Shyness can have its advantages. Getty / Ascent/PKS Media Inc.

Shyness is a feeling of awkwardness or discomfort in the presence of others. Most people who are shy learn to adapt to their surroundings and function in a world that is dominated by more outgoing and extroverted types.

At the same time, it can be easy to get down on yourself if you are shy; it might seem like everyone else is doing better socially than you. At times like these, it is helpful to consider some of the benefits or advantages of being shy.

These might not be things that immediately come to mind, but they are true of many shy people. This list of 10 good things about being shy might also be helpful if you are overcoming SAD and still struggling with shy tendencies.

Your Modesty Is Attractive

Many shy people are modest; you are the last one to announce your accomplishments or let the world know what is amazing about you. You probably shrink from compliments or downplay your positive attributes.

Although too much modesty can eat away at self-esteem, a healthy dose is considered an attractive trait by many.

At the same time, you need to be careful not to cross the line from modesty to self-deprecation. Here are five tips to make modesty work for you:

  • Accept compliments graciously
  • Recognize when you've achieved something important rather than downplaying these things as due to "luck"
  • Stand up for yourself if you feel you are being taken advantage of (read up on being assertive)
  • Offer praise to others (this might feel strange at first, as though you don't have the "right" to decide what is good or bad
  • Be realistic rather than thinking things are all good or all bad

You Think Before You Act

If you are shy or socially anxious you probably tend to look before you leap. This trait can be helpful when it comes to many life decisions. Thinking carefully and planning before taking action is important for many of life's hurdles including

  • Planning for the unexpected
  • Avoiding unnecessary risks
  • Setting long-term goals

Supporting this theory, a 2011 study comparing the behavior of human children and that of apes showed that human children displayed more behavior in line with shyness than did the apes (they were less likely to approach something new). This suggests that we as humans may have developed our ability to learn before leaping through this leaning toward shyness.

At the same time, this tendency to think long and hard before you take action should be moderated. If fear of taking a chance is holding you back, sometimes it can be better to take a leap and trust that things will work out (or that you can handle it if they don't).

You Appear More Approachable

When shyness is not extreme, it can make you appear more approachable to others. Shyness, and the modesty and self-effacing nature that go with it, are rarely threatening to others and may allow people to feel more comfortable around you. In other words, you don't have an air of superiority that makes it hard to talk with you.

Too much shyness can make you seem aloof or standoffish. If this is a problem for you, try something simple like smiling or saying "hi" to people to show that you're not stuck-up, just shy.

You Have a Calming Effect 

Shy people can sometimes have a calming effect on those who are more high strung. Though you may experience inner turmoil as a shy person, your outward appearance is probably one of being calm and even keel. This calmness and ability to "not react" may have a positive effect on those around you.

However, if you are actually experiencing inner turmoil, it's important to realize that sometimes it is okay to reach out for help. If your shyness means that you must wear a mask, see if opening up to one person about how you feel makes a difference.

You Do Well in Human Services

Do you work in a human services position? If so, and if you are shy, your personality probably serves you well in terms of being an empathic listener; being shy makes it easier for other people to open up to you.

You Appear More Trustworthy

Since you don't toot your own horn and aren't the first to tell everyone about your accomplishments, others may find you more believable and trustworthy. This can also make you a better leader.

You Have an Ability to Overcome

If you have struggled with shyness your whole life, then you know what it means to battle, endure, and overcome difficult feelings. Without your struggle against shyness, you would not have developed the ability to cope with life's difficulties.

You Make Deeper Friendships

Chances are that when you do manage to develop friendships, they are deep and long-lasting.

Because making friends is not easy, you may place more value on the friends that you have. Plus, your tendency to avoid small talk means that your friendships are not likely to be superficial. 

You Enjoy Solitary Work

Many jobs require the ability to focus and concentrate in a solitary environment; this is where some shy people find that they flourish. Not having a lot of social ties means that you have fewer interruptions and less need to validate what you are doing in the eyes of others.

You Experience Rewards More Fully

Research shows that the brains of shy people react more strongly to both negative and positive stimuli. This means that while you find social situations more threatening than your outgoing counterparts, you may also find positive situations more rewarding. Your increased sensitivity to reward may mean you find more value in working toward goals.

A Word From Verywell

Everyday shyness that does not prevent you from achieving your goals or participating in life can have its advantages. However, severe shyness that interferes with daily functioning is not helpful, and not something with which you have to live. If severe shyness or social anxiety is a problem for you, be sure to speak to your doctor for a referral to a mental health professional. 

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Herrmann E, Hare B, Cissewski J, Tomasello M. A comparison of temperament in nonhuman apes and human infantsDev Sci. 2011;14(6):1393–1405. doi:10.1111/j.1467-7687.2011.01082.x

  2. Kalliopuska M. Personality variables related to shynessPsychol Rep. 2008;102(1):40–42. doi:10.2466/pr0.102.1.40-42

  3. Tang A, Beaton EA, Schulkin J, Hall GB, Schmidt L. Revisiting shyness and sociability: a preliminary investigation of hormone-brain-behavior relationsFront Psychol. 2014;5:1430. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01430

Additional Reading

By Arlin Cuncic
Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety."