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Ways to overcome shyness

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    Ways to overcome shyness

    Here's how you can overcome shyness

    Shyness can be endearing yet can get in the way of your professional and personal life. Here's how to overcome it

    If you find yourself fumbling for words in a social situation, it can have a crippling effect on your personal and professional life. You may have a tough time talking to strangers, asking someone out or talking to the boss and that feeling could be accompanied by an anxious feeling in the pit of your stomach. So how do you go forth and conquer? Psychiatrist Harish Shetty gives you several ways to empower yourself.

    Shyness vs low self-esteem

    According to Dr Shetty, it is extremely important to understand that shyness is a personality trait, while lack of self-esteem is a state of mind. Shy people do not necessarily have low self-esteem. Many CEOs and leaders, have been shy but that has never been a roadblock to success.

    A shy person will engage in lowrisk conversation but not share his or her feelings - they may be able to comment on the weather or the cricket match, but will not on how they feel about their pet's death.

    Attack shame

    An effective way of dealing with shyness in therapy is the Shame-Attacking exercise by Albert Ellis, the founder of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). To help clients overcome self-consciousness and social embarrassment, Ellis would prescribe changes in behaviour which forcefully and directly challenge their sense of shame.

    The idea is to speak to one stranger every day. Initially, the conversation can be neutral - asking a stranger for the time, directions, etc. The trick is to maintain eye contact, listen intently and respect the conversation. Be prepared not to be entertained by six out of 10 people.

    Next, call the helplines of different agencies, or initiate any non face-to-face interaction that has low anxiety attached to it. Finally, take on a mild confrontation (e.g. point out to your mobile company that you have been overcharged). Don't argue, put forth the point and ask the person for suggestions.

    Slowly move into an area where you feel you will be rejected. Enter a group sport. It yields to spontaneous conversation automatically. Your confidence slowly increases with each interaction. The idea is to start of with a neutral forum and increase the risk, objective, volume and number of people in the conversation.

    Imagine the scenario:

    1. The first date

    It is natural to be anxious on a first date, but for shy people it can be positively traumatic. Before going out, share your fears with your friends. Give yourself a good pep talk. Talk to your date on the phone a few times before you meet him/ her. Start with neutral chit-chat and don't hesitate to laugh and infuse humour into the conversation. It eases anxiety.

    2. Professional anxiety

    Shy people fumble when interacting with authority. If you're talking to your immediate boss or supervisor, plan for the expected questions and what you're going to say and rehearse. If you don't know the answers, don't be afraid to admit it.

    -If you're talking to the second level boss, give yourself a pep talk and plan your sentences. Take tips from your immediate boss. If you're stumped by a question, pause and take a deep breath before you reply. If you're not sure of the answer, say you'll come back with it in 10 minutes.

    -If you're talking to the CEO, think of it as an opportunity to learn. Be brief and clear, maintain eye contact, speak with warmth.

    Tips on dealing with shyness

    -First thing to remember: you don't need to apologize about being shy. Everyone has a comfort zone; you are entitled to yours.

    -Avoid people who constantly nag you, criticise your attire, looks and education. Add people who bully you or who you've had a big tiff with to this list. Don't be a scapegoat for people who make you an object of fun. Avoid activities you don't enjoy.

    -Self-affirmation or repeatedly telling yourself that there is no reason to think that you're incapable or under-confident. Think positive, it has a remarkable effect on your confidence levels.

    -When shyness is associated with anxiety, yoga is recommended. Shavasana can be very beneficial for its calming effect. Take a group class so that you can slowly engage with others.

    -Excessive shyness could be an indicator of an emotional crisis. Shyness associated with phobias such as fear of intimacy, sex, crowds, new places, etc. needs professional treatment and counselling.

    -Accept rejection. It is a part of life and taking things personally will do nothing for your outlook. Everyone faces it at one time or another. Find a lesson that you have learnt and move on.

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