Posted on Apr 25, 2012 @[email protected]

Being shy has never really been thought of as a desirable character trait. It’s typically associated with being anti-social and anxious. These negative stereotypes developed for a reason social anxiety can paralyze you from taking advantage of opportunities and take a heavy toll on your relationships, but there are some positive attributes to being shy. Susan Cain of the New York Times did a piece titled Shyness: Evolutionary Tactic? where she pondered the benefits and drawbacks of being shy. Society most certainly values social extroverted individuals. The very fact that social anxiety has been deemed an illness proves this point. If you need further proof look to any elementary school classroom. Children typically sit in groups and are taught that they need to work together. Most companies prefer to hire people who are highly personable who enjoy working with a group. We now prefer action to contemplation and look down upon risk averse personalities. But what are we as a society losing by placing so much favor on being social. Shy people have achieved great successes in our history. Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Larry Page and J.K. Rowling are all shy individuals who have achieved levels of genius. Shy people typically consider small details and observe all of the facts before acting, they notice things that others don’t because of this they are also more prone to achieve intellectual and artistic greatness. It’s the difference between learning by observation and learning by action, both are valuable traits and both types of people need to be able to flourish in our society. Shy individuals tend to better stay on task and work accurately. They tend to be very creative individuals and they also tend to develop a lot of empathy. Parents of introverted children have an easier time instilling a moral code within them. This is not to say people who aren’t shy can’t achieve these traits, just that it may be more difficult for them. If your shy ways are taking a negative toll on your career or personal life there are steps you can take without altering your personality too drastically. Public speaking training can help you to overcome your fear of addressing a group and can help you to speak up to show how valuable you are. Preparation before social interactions can also help to relieve anxiety and make you a more effective communicator. You can also turn to your extroverted counterparts for support. They may have some helpful tips and can work with you to get your point across. As far as relationships go, if you recognize that you have a hard time being social avoid overwhelmingly social situations. Opt for a quiet dinner for two over a night at the club. You should also let people know that you have a hard time opening up to people, they may be more patient with you if they know this, especially if they too are shy. If you are having trouble networking, start with the connections you already have and go from there. Go from friends to friends of friends to friends of their friends, you’ll be surprised how far that can get you and how much more comfortable you’ll be. When all else fails smile and work on your self confidence. Don’t assume your bothering people and tap into the empathy and listening skills you have developed so well. Being a shy doesn’t have to be a curse, if you accept that you are a shy person you can learn to capitalize on the strengths that come with being shy and overcome the weaknesses.

Robert Boroff Executive Profile Managing Director Reaction Search International

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