Even the best of people can be Shy. As Sir Richard Branson says “I have always been naturally shy” and many people that I have worked with have said the same.. When I question them (unfortunately I haven’t been able to question Sir Branson) my clients have said that it feels that they were born shy and it’s part of their personality and they don’t know how to overcome shyness.
But are we born shy? Or do our experiences shape us to be this way?
The truth is that we are NOT born shy.
The main characteristic features of shyness are being overly self-conscious, excessive negative evaluation and preoccupation of oneself. These all involve a sense of self. According to various studies even as far back as 1870s by Darwin (Damon & Hart, 1982; 1988; Lewis Sullivan, Stranger & Weiss, 1989) our sense of self is not developed until we are about 18 months of age.
So as we are not born with a sense of self, we cannot be born shy, therefore we can overcome shyness.
Shyness can stem from a number of reasons –if a baby is overly sensitive to noise, then they may get upset, their behaviour of cowering behind a parent (from the noise) may be perceived as being shy. Often, people who are internally referenced, happy in their own company, who like to reflect may be perceived as shy from the outgoing extroverts. That label sticks.
Coaching a teenager, we discovered that when he was a toddler, his older sister would answer for him, so in the end he would never answer for himself – again people would perceive that he was shy – so he then took on that behaviour.
The good news! As shyness is not an inherent condition, you can overcome shyness.
Though there is nothing wrong with shyness, many people feel that is holding them back; whether this is in their personal lives or in their careers. As human beings, we naturally possess a powerful drive to be with other people. For many, shyness is the primary barrier to that basic need.
It’s important to stop dwelling on your own insecurities and become more aware of the people around you. Many shy people make the mistake of expecting others to do all the work; learn the art of conversation so that you can start a conversation going and flowing. Remember that not everything you say has to be supremely witty! Take that pressure off yourself. You just need to learn how to ask open questions. Be interested in others and sharing about yourself.
Many live under the misapprehension that everyone is judging them. They’re not. Sorry if this sounds harsh – but people are not spending their time focussing on you. If people are judgemental then that’s their “stuff” not yours. I often say to my clients that feel that they are always being judged – “If someone gave you a gift and you said no thank you…who has the gift?”
Perhaps you think that if you open your mouth you will make a mistake, do something wrong. We all make mistakes, we can all fail at things, however we don’t need to label ourselves as failures. To overcome failure we need to remember that in fact – there is no failure – just feedback.
Start to identify your own limiting beliefs that have stopped you overcome shyness. Learn more about how beliefs are formed and what’s in the middle of beliefs.
In essence: Challenge your own preconceptions about yourself, Shyness is not an identity – to overcome shyness you need to believe in yourself and learn how to converse easily with others
My Confidence Workshops provide proven support that will help you to overcome shyness and feel more confident, both at work and in your personal life. Click here for more information. I also work with people on a 121 basis
Lindsey Reed is an experienced coach who specialises in enabling people to have more confidence in their lives. If you experience times of low self-esteem, self-doubt and lack in confidence, email Lindsey@glows-coaching.co.uk or call 01832 280168 to see how your personal and working life will be improved.