Is your Shyness holding you back in Your Career?
I think back many years and remember a very specific time…
College graduation was the next day. It was over! My four years at Northwestern University were exciting, stimulating, and such hard work. I was excited for the future. I was proud of myself!
The last event before graduation ceremonies was the History Department celebration at the Chairman’s house. I found a parking space across the street. But I could not move. I could not open the door. I could not imagine walking up the steps and knocking on the door. I could not imagine saying hello to all those classmates and professors.
I was paralyzed with fear. I drove off in humiliation.
The next day at graduation I saw my parents leaning over the balcony shouting and pointing at the program. I waved back then looked at the program to figure out the excitement. I had won Departmental Honors for my honors thesis! I would have known this had I attended the celebration the night before. If, I had the courage to get out of the car.
I share this event, burned into my head so many years ago, to illustrate the debilitating impact of shyness. I am a shy person. I am also an introvert. They are not the same although we might use the terms interchangeably.
The term, introvert, and its counterpart, extrovert, refer to the way we get energy.
An interesting blog at Behavioral Health indicates that extroverts get energy from others while introverts enjoy time alone. That is how they recharge. Introverts need less simulation than extroverts. They prefer smaller groups. They like to think before they speak – there is a lot going on up there – and are often characterized as good listeners.
Shy people can be introverts or extroverts. Shyness includes a fear of negative judgement by others. The key is fear. Shyness is a response rather than a state of being.
Susan Cain, author of the well- known book, Quiet, says, “Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating.”
Cain shares this example: If asked to a party, the introvert thinks about whether she wants to expend the energy. The shy person thinks about how others will perceive her. One will stay home from the party from preference, the other from fear.
I am an introvert. After giving presentations or public speaking I usually need a nap.
I am also a shy person. Before going to a presentation or public speaking event I worry that I will humiliate myself. Shyness can get in the way!
This “shy” gremlin has been with me forever. But it does not control my life. I forced myself to learn techniques and tricks that allow me to overcome this gremlin or at least tell it to sit down and shut up!
Many of our Interview Doctor clients are introverts and many are shy. I can tell by the way they respond when I suggest they network. “Oh, I could never do that! What would I say? No one wants to listen to what I have to say.” The calling card of a shy person.
When I hear that I think back to my experience at college. I did the hard work. I was fearless in my research. I got the recognition but I was terrified anyway. Of what? Not sure. Just terrified.
Success in the modern world can be defined many ways – money, recognition, awards, maybe having a positive effect on the world. All those ways of defining success require pulling up your big kid pants and doing things that terrify you to achieve goals you set for yourself.
You define the goals. You do the hard work. You accept the reward. What do you want and what are you willing to do to get it?
Shy people, follow me! We are off on an adventure!!
Welcome to the Shy Person’s Guide to Success!
Stay tuned for more articles in our “Shy Person’s Guide” series tips this year. You truly are not alone!
In the meantime, download a copy of our “7 Tips to Career Success for the Shy Person”. Enter your name and email below to get your copy.