Month: November 2013

Does shyness stop you being assertive?

Does shyness stop you being assertive? It can certainly lead to passive behaviour, particularly in social situations.

Shyness often comes about when we are turning our attention inwards. We think too much about what others may think about us. Often we ‘mind read’ people, and assume that people will be thinking negative things about us.

So, what can you do about shyness?

Turn your attention outwards – away from yourself. There are a number of ways you can do this:Image

* really listen to what the other person is saying (instead of worrying what they think of you). Aim to make the conversation enjoyable for them.

* if you don’t know what to say, look around the room and comment on something you see. Perhaps a beautiful mirror or an attractive view. Alternatively, ask the person a question about themselves (most non-shy people love talking about themselves). Or give them a sincere compliment (most people like that).

* be aware of what is happening in the world or the local community. This will give you something to talk about.

And do some mental rehearsal before you go to the event where you would normally be shy. Imagine yourself being there, see yourself looking relaxed and at ease, chatting easily to people. As you do this, relax your body because this will give your brain the message that this image is valid. You’ll be priming your brain to act differently when you are at the event.

Shyness can be overcome. Start today to take active steps to change things for the better.


Scary people? Not any more!

I was delivering some team building for a committee recently. The members were incredibly varied.


ImageSome were ground floor workers, some were managers and others were directors. One was the managing director. There had been an issue with lack of feedback to senior managers about problems the workers were facing, and the problems were causing low morale.

What, I wondered, caused this lack of communication? Were the managers so busy with their computers, blue sky thinking or whatever that they tended to ignore their staff. Hey, lots of managers do this. People can be a pain – you know – irrational, demanding, difficult. I bet you’ve worked for a boss who thinks like that. They’d rather email people than say ‘Good morning!’

But perhaps that wasn’t the answer, or not the whole answer. Maybe the workers had an ‘us and them’ approach. After all, many people are intimidated by people with a title grander than their own. And many people have been bought up with a ‘respect your elders and betters’ belief. My grandmother regularly used to say, ‘They all go to the toilet like us, dear!’ But at the same time, she would never have dreamed of challenging any professional person on anything at all. In fact, she called them Toffs.

I’ve always noticed how even people in authority are the same as everyone else. A varied bunch: some approachable and kind, some difficult and aloof, others somewhere in between.

If you find yourself hesitating to speak assertively to someone with more professional power than you, you can try this trick…

Get a mental image of the person. 

Got it?

Now give them Mickey Mouse ears and big red nose.

Smiling yet?

Add a revolving bow tie.

What colour was the bow tie?

Now dress them in a big, baggy t-shirt and tight, tight cycle shorts. 

Stomach turning yet?

Odd shoes and socks complete the picture.

How scary are they now? 

If you think this is too disrespectful or might make you laugh at an inconvenient moment, there is an alternative. Simply make your mental image of them black and white, small and distant.