Friday, August 04, 2006

Tips for overcoming shyness in the Globe and Mail

From today's Globe and Mail (Canada's National Newspaper), here is an excerpt from one of 2 articles written by Wallace Immen about the ideas in Stop Pushing Me Around, one of which features a Marketing Mentor client, Ana Garza-Robillard from Montreal.

Almost everyone is shy to some extent in certain situations. Ms. Benun says. It's extremely common for people who are dynamic in their everyday job to turn very uncertain in an unknown situation out of fear they will make a mistake or look incompetent.

This can actually make people stay at a job they dislike, rather than face the prospect of interviewing for a much better position somewhere else.

The good news is that shyness is not genetic but, rather, behaviour you develop based on experiences in your life, says Ms. Benun, who regularly runs assertiveness workshops in Canada.

That means if you learn to identify situations in which underlying shyness is holding you back, you can minimize its paralyzing effects.

Here's her formula for emerging from the shell of shyness:

Know your demons
Learn to recognize situations that typically make you feel shy and how you habitually react to them, for example, by avoiding them or not speaking up.

Commit to making a change
The next time a situation comes up that makes you feel shy, vow to try a different approach, such as speaking up rather than staying silent. Making such changes will, over time, increase your confidence.

One small change at a time
"The reason people remain shy is they have built it up into a huge, immovable thing to overcome, and they decide it is too big a challenge to even think about it," Ms. Benun says.

Making small changes expands your comfort zone and creates the momentum to make big progress over time.

Set targets
Create a time frame for taking concrete actions on goals you want to achieve. For instance, "meet a new person daily" or "attend two networking events monthly."

Create lots of options
If you give yourself many opportunities to interact with people, each one won't carry as much weight and will therefore be less stressful.

Don't bow to the competition
Don't assume that other people have more right to speak up because they appear more confident than you. In fact, your input may be more valuable than anything they have to offer.

Spend time preparing
The better you know your stuff, the more confident you will feel when the time comes to present it.

Visualize support
Instead of imagining a meeting as a place where you might end up being interrogated and judged, imagine it as a circle of colleagues all there to help you. With practice, that will become your reality.

Ask for honest feedback
Shy people tend to dwell so much on their negatives that they fail to see their positives, Ms. Benun says. Seeking input from others will draw out positive things they see in you, and give you more confidence to overcome your shyness.

Review progress
Keep a log of your goals and review daily, or at least weekly, marking down progress you've made. Every success will make you more confident, Ms. Benun says.

You can read the entire article at the Globe and Mail.

And you can buy the book here.


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