In fact, work-life worry is one of the biggest problems shy people face, says Bernardo J. Carducci, director of the Shyness Research Institute at Indiana University Southwest and author of “Shyness: A Bold New Approach.”
And just in case you think you and I are the only ones who know how hard it is to make small talk at the water cooler, he says about 45 percent of the population is shy. (If extreme anxiety interferes with your ability to function on a day-to-day basis, you may be suffering from social phobia, a psychiatric disorder that calls for professional help.)
In his 20 years as a shyness researcher, Carducci has heard people tell how excruciatingly hard it is to:
let the boss know how much work they really do
ask for a raise
tell the boss about a work-related problem
speak up at meetings
accept a promotion because it would mean giving presentations
leave a job they hate because it would mean talking to strangers and being subjected to judgment by others
But Carducci’s life has been dedicated to helping people learn they are not destined to be shy forever. And don’t think this means he wants to turn you into a Jim Carrey or Oprah Winfrey. What he wants, instead, is to help you “understand the nature and dynamics of shyness and start to control it, rather than letting it control you.”
Don’t change who you are, but use what you learn about yourself to make decisions that are in your own best interest. And once you do that, he says, you are on the road to becoming “successfully shy.”
So what are some characteristics shy people have in common?
slowness to warm up to new situations
excessive concern over being evaluated
unfair comparisons to the life of the party
And once you recognize these things in yourself, you can start to make accommodations for them. For instance, instead of arriving late for a networking event, arrive early so you can take time to adjust to the environment while things are still quiet. This also helps because when you arrive early, you can greet people individually as they get there, instead of trying to break into groups that formed before you arrived.
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