More Ways to be Successful with Shyness

September 13, 2021

More Ways to be Successful with Shyness

In the last post, I discussed how to up your chances to get extra research money by taking a more active role in shaping how things roll out. There are other ways to be successful even with your shyness tendencies.

Shyness prevents these extroverted actions

Speaking up: There are undoubtedly situations where you have an opinion about how your unit should function. You typically might not engage in the debate or, if you feel really strongly, go to the boss afterwards to get him to change his mind. This is usually doomed to failure. You need to be able to speak up at the time if it impacts your work in a significant way.

Putting yourself forward: It would be nice to think that all your good, hard, and even innovative work will be hailed and loudly lauded. If that is happening at your work place, stay where you are—you’re not gonna get it anywhere else. Typically, the quiet ones are either taken for granted or, at best, are thrown a bone (“Oh, yeah, that Amber—backbone of the unit.”) But backbones don’t get the to-die-for assignments—mouths do. If you want something that others are vying for, you need to put yourself forward.

Fake it ‘til you feel it

I know you don’t feel comfortable doing these things—otherwise shyness wouldn’t be your thing! But this is a case where you need to fake it until you feel it. The way you do that is:

  • Prepare for meetings and other group gatherings. Think through your arguments.
  • Develop responses to others’ possible objections.
  • If necessary, script what you want to say so that you’re not bumbling when the moment comes.
  • Practice your arguments out loud until they come out as if you had just thought of them. Do not read from your script.
  • No matter how intensely you feel, present your arguments calmly and even a little casually. Not I-don’t-care casually but I’m-so-confident-that-I-can-be-casual casually.

I don’t want to do this!

I get it. This is not who you are. I understand that. And if this is too far from who you are, then you need to listen to those inner promptings. However, you also need to accept that by not speaking up, you allow yourself to be buffeted by whatever currents are swirling. Sometimes to your benefit, but just as often, not.

However, if you can imagine trying this out because you do care how much you can control your work, then you will find that—while never as easy as it is for extroverts—it will get easier. You will get used to turning on the extrovert spigot and reaping the rewards of responding appropriately to the situation.

Even if you do try this out, remember that you can practice extroversion in a way that works for you. You don’t need to become the backslapping, life of the meeting, guy. Instead, you can work yourself into the position that, although your interventions are not frequent, people stop and listen because they know you have something valuable to say.

And that’s a worthwhile goal, don’t you think?

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