Tongue-tied when asked to speak in a tutorial or meeting? Dread having to make small talk with people you haven’t met at the end-of-year drinks? And just the thought of doing a presentation or attending an interview keeps you awake for a week beforehand? If you’re shy or have an introvert personality, it can be really hard to put yourself forward and get noticed.
However, good news! In a Listener article entitled The power of shyness, Jane Clifton outlines recent thinking on the positives of being shy;
Shy or introverted people spend more time listening than talking and therefore tend to take in more information than they impart. Listening carefully, then being able to analyse and extrapolate from what you’ve been told is a seriously useful skill.
Shy or introverted people are likely to be more observant. As they are hanging back watching and listening rather than active participants, they are more likely to pick up subtleties of body language, and the “inter-linear” of conversations, than those in the thick of the action.
Shy or introverted people “filter”. They do not do their thinking aloud, or rehearse ideas before an audience as extroverts tend to. Therefore when they do speak, their words are more likely to be well considered and, because they hate talking in meetings, concise.
Shy or introverted people are more likely to be considerate of others. One of the drivers behind shyness is anxiety about how others will be affected by your participation in a transaction, which means shy people are constantly focused on how other people are feeling and what might interest or bore them.
Shy or introverted people are more likely to have long concentration spans. All that time hugging the walls watching and listening builds a high threshold for boredom – an advantage in many jobs, where the ability to trawl through masses of bumf and find important details or spot tiny but potentially troublesome errors is extremely useful.
Shy or introverted people are more able to work independently, or alone, without the stimulus or support of a team.
Having these tendancies myself, I find the key to appearing confident, even if you are a bundle of nerves inside, is to be prepared, practice if need to, and present yourself well. Plus, the more you take part, the easier it becomes!
Find out more about your personality type by doing MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) available for Victoria University students and recent graduates at Vic Careers. We can also help with interview and networking skills so don’t be shy – come on in and see us!