First of all I think a lot of people confuse anxiety with shyness. Anxiety is a disorder when a person is in perpetual uneasiness or apprehension. Shyness is more being uncomfortable or reserved because of unfamiliarity.
Here are some examples: Shyness is going to a new school and not engaging in the way one would normally. Anxiety is setting your alarm on your phone and being so apprehensive that you’re still not going to wake up on time.
Now that Anxiety is clearly defined here are some things you should NEVER say to people with anxiety.
1. You should be more positive/optimistic.
This statement assumes you are stating the person is naturally pessimistic.
Instead, offer them a more positive solution. When you tell them to be more optimistic, it makes it seem like there is something wrong with them and no one wants to talk to someone who makes them feel that way. If someone has anxiety about a certain situation try offering them some assistance or just letting them know that they have some support from you.
2. Step out of your comfort zone.
If someone with anxiety is opening up to you at all about their fears or discomforts, then they are already out of their comfort zone. Try to empathize instead of quick fixing the problem with the solution of “ get out of your comfort zone.” Sometimes they are already there.
3. Everyone has/gets anxiety.
This makes it seem like it’s a common thing everyone has to deal with. NO IT IS NOT. Acknowledge and validate this persons feelings as well as respect their boundaries. Talk about it with them if you need more clarity, but never undermine what they are experiencing. It is tougher than it seems.
Overall just be calm, kind and understanding and everything will be alright.