"Shyness, even though it may diminish, rarely will go away all by itself," write Philip G. Zimbardo and Shirley Radl in The Shy Child. "Part of getting over shyness begins with the decision to do so." Their suggestions for beginning -- "whatever your age":
* Begin taking risks. Stop using shyness as a way to avoid doing things you would rather not do.
* Don't label yourself shy. "Instead, tell yourself that you experience shyness in certain situations." Then list the situations and the people who make you shy. Most people, the authors say, experience some anxiety in the same kinds of situations -- whether they consider themselves shy or not.
* Strengthen your self-esteem by making a list of your best qualities and then your "most glaring flaws." If some of the deficits can be changed, set "realistic" goals to do so "one at a time." Pay careful attention to personal appearance.
* Learn to enjoy your own company. This makes you less "dependent on others for entertainment."
* Practice social skills. For example, "Not-shy people smile often and make eye contact with other people. Practice doing both." Also, try laughing at someone's jokes, take a lead in conversation, voice an opinion -- an honest one -- on a movie, a book, a play.
* Show concern for other people. Make them "feel welcome or comfortable." Give strokes. "These are all of the things the shy person wants from other people but doesn't readily give to others."
* Asks for favors and give them. Shy people usually don't do either.
* In a dating situation, "work up to it slowly." First invite the person out for a cup of coffee. Next, plan something specific, such as a movie or a party. If you think you're going to be tongue-tied asking, write out the script ahead of time and practice it. If you get a "no," at least "give yourself credit for taking the risk."