Mine is the voice which often doesn't get heard. It doesn't get heard because I don't use it to the best of its ability'
I can be brash. I am opinionated too. But since I can ever remember, I’ve been shy. In fact, one of my first memories is of hiding behind my Dad’s legs at the school-gate. Shyness feels innate to me.
I know it’s not the worst trait to be saddled with. Retrospectively, however, many of the opportunities I’ve missed out on both professionally and personally have been due to my meekness. Mine is the voice which often doesn’t get heard. It doesn’t get heard because I don’t use it to the best of its ability.
My timidness is not crippling, I live a very happy life surrounded friends and family with whom I’m not shy at all. I am competent, I am intelligent and I know my strengths.
Meeting new people and when surrounded by those of an outgoing disposition (of which I’m more than envious, at times.) my instinct tells me to retreat, to step back.
In the interests of helping others who have had similar feelings, here’s what I’ve discovered has helped me.
- Take note of your triggers. Being aware of the circumstances in which it takes hold is valuable as you can consciously prepare yourself to act differently when a similar situation arises in the future.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. Easily said, not quite so easily done. Your shyness isn’t going to dissipate overnight, don’t berate yourself about it, doing so is counterproductive. Try and show yourself the same kindness you afford to others and you’ll be doing well.
- Look around. Notice how those who aren’t overtly showing signs of shyness are acting (they could be good actors!) and emulate them. Often, non-linguistic communication such as an open body or direct eye contact can make all the difference.
- Go it alone. I attended a Women in Tech event recently on my own. It was full of engaging, confident women working in the tech industry, most of whom I was petrified of. Despite that, I got through it and would do it again, given the chance.
- Deflect it. Outgoing people love talking about themselves. Ask someone about their background/handbag/job/ favourite book and let them natter away for a few minutes. It gives you a bit of breathing space and usually, by the time they’ve finished their answer, they’ll have mentioned something you can chat about.