Friday, May 26, 2006


Shy and introverted? Listen up!

There are some good tips over at the Never Eat Alone blog this a.m. about overcoming shyness in social situations. Like the author, I'm in the "dread going but glad I went" camp -- even for stuff like vacations! I'm criminally shy at heart but over the years I've learned to work with my hermit tendencies. People are always surprised when I confess how nervous and shy I get around people I don't know too well, but I guess that just means my coping skills work pretty darn well.

Other tips I'll add to Mark Goulston's:

* Everyone else in the room is too busy worrying about themselves to pay you too much attention -- unless you're Britney Spears with a drink in one hand and a baby in another. When I remind myself of this, it really helps take the pressure off.

* Pretend you're the person whose job it is to put other people at ease. In other words, "act as if." When you focus your attention on helping someone find their way to the crudites, you don't have time to worry if you're looking like a fool.

* We'd worry less about what others think of us if we knew how little they actually thought about us. Think about it -- do you go to a social event and fret over other the other people there as much as you fret over yourself?

So, how do you cope with shyness?

When it comes to shyness in public, I can use all the tips there are! If I am out having fun and meeting new people, then I'm not so bad, but if it is a business-esk situation and I have to talk about myself, oh dear!
I overcome shyness when I have a press pass. :-) Seriously though, whether as a newspaper photographer or reporter, or a freelance magazine writer, or whatnot, my shyness was overcome 95% of the time because I felt validated by credentials. Not the best reason perhaps, but it worked for me. The other 5% of the times I think were more laziness than shyness.
I have slowly overcome much of my shyness by reminding myself how narcissistic shyness is. Being shy is being self-focused. When I remind myself to focus on others, ask them questions, compliment them, or just generally focus on THEM, I find my shyness goes away -- at least temporarily (usually long enough to get me through a party or event).
Sometimes just admitting that youre shy takes the feeling away. Don't allow it to beat you. Yes, it exists but it can't beat you! Smile, and know that the people you are talking to may be experiencing the same shyness. You're never alone. I find that alone to be very helpful.
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