Tips For Overcoming Shyness at Work
It’s a common misconception that shy people are born shy. You may be among those people who remember themselves being shy, complaining that this innate defect is haunting them their whole life. It may seem like you cannot fight shyness because it’s a part of your nature. There’s one thing you’re wrong about. The chance that you were actually born shy is very low. According to Dr Steve Bressert, Ph. D., only 10-15% of newborns are born ‘inhibited’ or have inborn shyness. For others, shyness is learned. This means that you can overcome shyness and get rid of it.
But is it as easy as it seems?
Shyness undermines many aspects of our life. But nothing harms our ego as bad as shyness harming our career.
The Cost of Shyness for Your Career
In the article published by Psychology Today, the authors call shyness at work a survival instinct. This behaviour is justified by our inability to handle unfamiliar situations and our natural desire not to feel embarrassed. You may not be a born-shy person, but a chain of different situations may have forced you to act shy to avoid getting involved in embarrassing situations. You may think that you’re doing yourself a favour by putting yourself into a survival mode.
After a while, however, forced shyness becomes your nature. And, as time passes, you start thinking that you’ve been shy from the dawn of time. What you don’t realise is that forced shyness comes at a cost. It costs you your talent, skills, career, and success. People force themselves into being shy because of several supposed issues that may embarrass them in the workplace.
Let’s take a look at these workplace issues, and find solutions to them:
Issue #1: You’re Not Skilled Enough
You’re offered a new project. By partaking in it, you will have a chance to improve your skills and even get a promotion. You feel excited for a second and want to invest your time into it. But something holds you back.
It may be anything, from favouritism at work to time constraints. However, the most common cause of shyness, in this case, is us doubting our talents and skills.
The reason why you feel shy about showcasing and applying your skills is mostly that you don’t practice them enough. And today, with so many technological advancements and the influence of social media, practising and applying your skills has become easier than ever. You don’t even have to leave your house.
Here’s what we suggest:
1. Launch Your YouTube Channel
Having a YouTube channel is not only a good way to practice skills and showcase your expertise, but also to practice delivering speeches as you talk to a massive online audience. Launching a personal YouTube channel helped Kati Morton, a therapist from California, become one of the best mental health professionals by educating nearly a million of people about mental health problems:
2. Start Blogging
If you don’t feel comfortable talking to millions of YouTube subscribers, you can still practice your craft by having a blog. One of the best examples of professional blogging is Neil Patel’s blog. There, he practices his skills and knowledge by educating others about different marketing strategies.
3. Try Freelancing
You may not doubt our skills, but you don’t have a good outlet where to apply them or maybe your job doesn’t allow you to apply your whole potential. While having a blog or a YouTube channel can also be considered freelancing, by registering as a freelancer you will have a chance to earn money, which is also a great boost for your confidence.
If you feel shy because of your skills, it’s because you need a decent outlet to practice them. Today, you can easily change that and not wait for your boss or colleagues to recognise your potential.
Issue #2: No One Cares About You
You stay away from all events and social gatherings because you feel like no one will spend time with you anyway. You shy away from every conversation either with your boss or with your colleagues because you think that they don’t care about you anyway. It forces you to go to your shell since everyone is not interested in you a priori.
Here, there may be an underlying mental health issue to your shyness, which is deeper than just not feeling confident about your skills. Shying away from conversations may be a sign of depression, which is an immediate reason to consult a therapist.
However, if you feel like you have enough strength to battle and overcome your social shyness, you need to come face to face with your fear by:
1. Going to Lunch with Your Colleagues
If trusting your colleagues is an issue, start slow and go to lunch with them once in a while. You’ll see that your thoughts that no one cares about you are farfetched. Instead, you’ll understand that your colleagues stay away from you because you appear unavailable to them.
2. Having Occasional Briefings with Your Boss
You may think that your boss doesn’t care about you. They don’t ask about your needs or your progress, so, automatically, they don’t care. But why should your boss always be responsible for asking you about it?
In this case, your shyness comes from your selfishness. Why shouldn’t you create an opportunity to talk to your boss once in a while? Occasional briefings with your boss discussing your performance can be a good opportunity for you to see that your boss actually cares about your work.
3. Excepting Every Corporate Party Invitation
Battle your social shyness with the situation that causes it – spending time with all your colleagues and your boss. Get out of your comfort zone, and you’re exaggerating about how others feel about you.
It’s all in your head. You should realise that you’re getting worked up because of a reason that is most likely too farfetched. And, probably because you don’t give people a chance because you’re too afraid to feel embarrassed or offended. In reality, however, the chances that this will happen are very low.
Issue #3: You Don’t Feel Interesting
You avoid everyone and everything that happens at work because you don’t feel interesting. Why would everyone approach to have a conversation with you? You don’t have a topic to share with these people.
This issue is similar to the previous one. However, you may think that no one cares about you judging from the behaviour of people who surround you. In this case, however, the blame is entirely on you. If you feel that people are not interested in you it’s often because you don’t feel interested in yourself. What’s the solution to it (besides seeing a therapist)? Start testing your limits.
Here’s what we suggest:
1. Invest in a Hobby
Earlier, we talked about practising work-related skills as a way to overcome shyness at work. Investing your time into a hobby, however, can not only help you overcome shyness at work but feel more interesting as a person in general. Moreover, it will help you find other people at work that share your interests.
By doing social activities like donating or volunteering, you develop your personal outlook, which shapes you as an individual, and thus helps positively influence your co-workers and makes you feel more interesting as a person.
3. Perform in Public
We know, just the thought of a public performance gives shy people a heart attack. However, performing a public, whether it’s public speaking or practising your hobby (like playing the guitar) is a great way to start feeling more confident about yourself.
If you don’t feel interesting to others and it’s the cause of your shyness at work, you need to leave your comfort zone. It’s easier to sit and do nothing, blaming others for not taking an interest in you. But is there something to be interested in? Think about it.
Overcoming Shyness at Work Is Challenging
Have you been through these situations? We feel like every one of us has. Overcoming shyness at work is difficult if it has become a part of your nature. However, since in most cases shyness at work is acquired, the best way to overcome it is by stepping out of your comfort zone in the most creative way possible. It’s exactly what we offer you in this article. So, if you struggle with overcoming shyness at work, just give our tips a try. And don’t forget to let us know your story. Good luck!
About the Author
Erica Sunarjo is a freelance journalist and a translator at the Word Point translation agency.
For further tips and information, you can take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Communication Skills and our Communication Skills YouTube Channel. Also, check out our award-winning blog to see more Communication Skills tips and articles.