Can Shy People Be Confident?
Don’t let shyness become a barrier to stopping you being confident.
I have met hundreds of people who’ve described themselves as shy people to me. They tell me they feel nervous and uncomfortable and some experience physical symptoms such as blushing or shaking in public.
Ultimately, these feelings have an effect on how they behave around other people. They may find themselves missing out on opportunities, holding back when they have something to say or avoiding group situations.
Does this sound familiar to you? If so, you’re not alone. Many people I meet struggle with these issues too.
“You gain strength and confidence through every experience where you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt
For shy people, ‘doing the thing you cannot do’ often means coming forward and speaking up.
This may seem an impossible and daunting task but it is possible if you approach it step by step.
Let me tell you about Jesse. She described herself as shy to me.
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Jesse had two young children at Primary School. She found it a real challenge to make conversation with the other parents at the school gate. It got to the stage where, at pick up time, she’d find herself waiting in her car watching the other parents chatting in the playground waiting for the kids to come out.
The situation got worse and worse; as the other parents got to know each other better, Jesse knew no one. It got so bad that she ended up waving to the kids from the car, picking them up, talking to no one and driving home. The problem got worse and worse for her because the longer she didn’t talk to people, the harder it became to strike up a conversation.
When her seven year old daughter asked her why she never talked to any of her friends’ parents she realised she had to do something about it.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a miracle cure that can instantly stop you feeling shy but you can take steps to help you control your feelings in certain situations. In turn this will help build your self-confidence and you’ll feel more in control when you feel uncomfortable.
I’d encourage you to try this 3 step plan. It’s a plan which takes self-discipline, preparation and courage.
The first thing you’ll need to do is think of a specific situation where your shyness really hinders you. For Jesse it was talking to parents at the school gate.
Then take this step by step approach to help you overcome your shyness.
Step one – Be mentally aware of the actions you need to take. You will require self-discipline to ensure you carry this out.
For Jesse – she vowed to herself that never again would she sit in her car waiting for the children. She would force herself to talk to at least one person every day at the school gate. Ideally, each day she would choose a different person so that she started to get to know people more quickly.
Step two – Know how you want to look and what you want to say. This will require preparation.
Jesse made sure she prepared herself. She worked out what she was going to say while she was on her way to the school in the car. The things she thought of revolved around topics she’d have in common with other parents; school clubs, sporting events etc.
She also prepared in her mind. In other words, she psyched herself up. This was probably the most important part of her preparation because it was mainly her fear of talking to the other parents that was holding her back. Lastly she prepared by visualising herself actually doing it confidently. By the time she got to the school she was ready physically and mentally.
Step three – Force yourself to act. This requires courage.
Jesse found the courage to act. When she arrived at the school, she looked at the parents waiting at the gate and decided on the person she would talk to. She had the topics at the forefront of her mind.
She courageously and confidently got out of her car, walked to the gate with her shoulders back and head up and went through with it. The first day, just walking up to the person was a major challenge (Jesse even described it as ‘embarrassing’). The second day, it became a little easier, and the third day even easier. By the end of the first week she’d struck up a conversation with a number of different parents.
Jesse overcame her shyness by focusing on a social situation that challenged her. You can use the same approach for work-related shyness. For example, if you tend to keep quiet at work meetings, challenge yourself to never again leave a meeting without saying something. Just remember the three key principles; discipline, preparation and courage.
Shy people can overcome the fear and be confident. You can too.
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