True story – Once upon a time there was a very shy 14-year-old candy-striper who volunteered in a hospital gift shop. She was so shy that when anyone she didn’t know spoke to her, her face would get flushed with red and her hands would tremble. Working in the gift shop was easy for her because selling gum and newspapers was a pretty easy task as there was little conversation for those short transactions. One afternoon, a man who had obviously been celebrating, bolted through the door of the gift shop and in a loud voice happily announced that his wife had just delivered their first child. His “celebration” had obviously removed any inhibitions he had, if he had had any at all. He chose a gift for his wife and brought it to the volunteer to be wrapped. She took the gift and nervously began to wrap it. The new dad was talking away and noticed the shy volunteer’s hands trembling as his voice got louder and louder, “Look she’s turning red. Don’t be nervous, it’s OK. Look, she’s shaking!” It seemed to take forever for the young woman to get that gift wrapped, the transaction completed and for the new dad to get back out the door. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, it was over and new dad was gone. The volunteer was left red-faced, trembling and in a sweat from the arduous encounter.
The funny thing about this story was that the entire event, while embarrassing for the candy-striper, turned out to be a blessing for her. Something amazing happened that day. That experience was sort of a “trial by fire” for the volunteer, and since she survived that encounter, she was able to deal with people much more easily from then on. She even went on to manage the entire hospitality shop where she would greet many different people in a day.
Of course, not everyone who is shy will either have a similar experience or the same result to such an experience as the young woman in the story, but if you are someone who suffers from shyness, you know how difficult it can be.
There are different degrees of shyness; it can be life limiting and can even be debilitating. There are those who may just blush a little when meeting someone new, but it can restrict others from making friends, going places, attending events or having meaningful relationships. Why people are shy probably varies by person, but most feel shy due to a lack of confidence. If you want to overcome shyness, there are some ideas you could try:
Take a Class in Public Speaking
If you can get past how scary that sounds at first, a course in public speaking may benefit you a great deal. It will teach you to speak with confidence, how to use body language to project yourself and how to engage an audience. Some institutions even offer free adult education classes; see if you can find one in your area.
Practice Speaking to People
Try engaging people wherever you go. Choose some less scary scenarios at first, like the line at the grocery store. Look back at a person looking at you, instead of looking down, and smile. Say hello. There now, that wasn’t so bad. Practice with other people you meet in a safe environment.
Walk Into a Room Like You Own It
You may have heard that before, but it really is effective. Stand tall, shoulders back, head up, no slouching. Walk into a room, bar, restaurant, wherever, and look at people as you walk by. Don’t look down at the floor or dart your eyes away from someone who might look at you. This may feel awkward at first, but it will get easier and easier and before you know it, you will own the room.
Don’t Let Your Imagination Sabotage You
Sometimes our imagination can get the best of us. We imagine that we are less than, or that people don’t like us, or we don’t deserve to be here or there because . . . when none of that is true. Most likely, you are more appealing to people that you think, but without engaging people you won’t know. Use your imagination instead to see yourself making friends, telling stories and having fun!
Stay In The Moment
When engaging with others, stay out of your head and listen to what they’re saying. Instead of thinking about your hair being out of place or you really don’t like what you’re wearing, stay engaged and be part of the conversation. When you stay focused in the moment, you will forget about your hair and your outfit and before you know it, you’ll be enjoying a great conversation.
Just DO IT
When you feel shy about a situation, just dive in. Don’t stay home when you’re nervous about going to that party you were invited to. Just show up, ring that bell and walk in. You might feel awkward or out of place at first, but chances are, you will begin to feel more comfortable as you meet the people there.
For some, shyness can be overwhelming. Seek out a professional counselor should you feel you need one. Don’t feel embarrassed about seeking help; you and your future are worth it.
CCI Training Center’s Career Placement Service offers job placement assistance to every student.