Dear Harlan: I’m really shy and sometimes come off as standoffish when really I’m just shy. How can I come off as friendlier? Sometimes people will call me names behind my back or make false assumptions. Any suggestions? – Deceptively Shy
Dear Deceptively Shy: Smile. Make eye contact. Think happy thoughts. Face it — there are always going to be people who misunderstand and judge you (and me). And there are going to be people you misunderstand and judge (YES, YOU). You can’t control people’s thoughts. Stop trying. Appreciate that people are going to judge you. Some will be right, some wrong. If you are worried about coming off as standoffish, explain that your silence can be misinterpreted to select people. Then smile, make eye contact, and think happy thoughts. If the people you approach still want to pass judgment, that’s up to them. Just make an effort to clear up any confusion with the people you care about. Then move on.