Shy people: Hey, my shy friends out there…do you think too much? For instance, are you self-described “shy people” really rude…stuck up…both quiet and uptight…or neither, for gosh sakes? And why do shy guys and gals, kids or teens or adults…think of themselves as SO unapproachable sometimes? Well, I thought I’d air out my brain and ask my Web page readers what YOU thought about social shyness…is it a mark of quiet genius or standoffish low self-esteem?
Here are the results of my New Insights Communication poll — results I hope will make you both curious and challenged:
SHY PEOPLE ARE…
1. SHY PEOPLE ARE STUCK UP…ZERO…that’s 0%.
2. SHY PEOPLE ARE INTROVERTS…84.21%
3. SHY PEOPLE ARE UNAPPROACH-ABLE…15.79%
DISCUSSION: PRIVATE SHYNESS VS. PUBLIC SHYNESS
Studies about shyness indicate there’s a distinction between privately shy and people who act shy only in public settings. Johnny Carson, the Tonight Show host, was publicly an extreme extrovert but socially very introverted. Carol Burnett, the comedienne, was the same way…outgoing on the stage and close only with a few close friends behind the scenes. Many of my clients are not shy but they are “introverts” who prefer to re-charge their batteries with a few close friends or time alone in solitary reflection or mediation.
INTROVERSION VS. EXTROVERSION AND COMMUNICATOR STYLE
Which brings me to the notion of “introvert” vs. “extrovert” personality…that well-researched personality spectrum that Carl Jung first introduced to our “collective unconscious”…and the Myers-Briggs group has used so successfully since Jung’s 1923 publication of “Psychological Types.”
Readers know the facts: “Shyness” is really “introversion” or an “in-going person” and that’s all that’s about, nothing more and nothing less. Why judge people who aren’t enthusiastically outgoing as “less than” or “less desirable” or “less able to climb the business ladder of success or close an important sale?” As the book by Dr. Marti Olsen Laney called “The Introvert Advantage” describes, shy people are deep observers of unspoken communication and human behavior experts, good at solving people problems and thinking about emotional and relational intricacies. I also call a bunch of these types of folks Empathizer communicators. Their opposite talk type I call Instigator communicators.
ARE SHY PEOPLE NEGATIVE THINKERS AND TALKERS?
Lastly, what I found fascinating about this poll is the “accurate belief” that falls in sharp contrast to the “negative thoughts” of the shy person…generally speaking, people DO NOT really judge introverts or the shy child or adult person as being “stuck up,” “standoffish,” “better than others,” “won’t give you the time of day,” “just too preoccupied to talk”…and so on. Isn’t that some pretty great news? Thus, is it the shy youth or adult person him- or herself who judges the SELF too harshly? I bet so. Which leads me to wonder: Are shy people better self-criticizers than the rest of us? And are these introverts really “seeing things,” and “using their strengths,” in accurate and useful ways? Whichever way you go, shy people are hugely capable of change in their attitudes and their social behaviors.
LOVE ‘EM OR HATE ‘EM
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, we’re increasingly relying upon “polls” to help us know what’s goin’ on. Being a wise guy or gal, I bet you don’t swallow everything that Negatalkers in the media choose to report on vs. overlook. Shyness is one of those “recycled” stories, the tone of these articles imply that “shy people are stuck up.” Well, before you point the finger of blame….do you describe yourself as a “shy person” who “can’t” be more outgoing? In my book “Talk to Me,” I show you how and why shy people can be as outgoing as extroverts while simultaneously enjoying their naturally “ingoing” styles.
GIFTS OF THE SHY PERSON
So, my dear clients and readers who are self-described “shy people”…you who tell me you constantly worry, fret and fidget because you are socially perceived to be “stuck up, rude or hard to read.” Maybe we need to think more positively, and support more rigorously, the GIFTS OF THE SHY. For example, if you are introverted…why not start thinking of yourself as “generous, including of others, easy to read…and even easier to talk to in authentic ways?”
IF THE SHOE OF SHYNESS DOESN’T FIT
The word “shy,” after all, is just a label. And if the label doesn’t fit…why wear it.
Dr. Dennis O’Grady is the designer of the new communication system found in his book “Talk to Me: Communication Moves to Get Along with Anyone,” which is available in the resource store at the Web site www.drogrady.com. Previous New Insights Communication Polls have included “How Do You Handle Anger?”…“Are Men or Women Better Communicators?” “How Easily Are You Frustrated?” Read more about these challenging, growth producing topics, and other topics of personal and relationship interest here four minutes every day of the week to make change happen fast.