If I ask you whether you feel a little jittery while you are about to go on a podium for a speech or a debate, most likely your answer would be a yes. There might have been an incident or two when you must have felt shy to walk up to talk to a person or you must have felt hesitant or anxious to ask someone for professional matters. The feeling of butterflies in the stomach often occurs in such situations due to anxiety and shyness.
It’s a very common thing to happen irrespective whether you are an extrovert or an introvert. All of us at some point would have felt shy or socially anxious. It’s normal, but when these feelings of anxiety and shyness start taking a toll on a person, it can lead to various psychological disorders.
From the SSB point of view, social anxiety and shyness can hamper your chances of success. With self -confidence, social adaptability and initiative being some of the OLQs, you have to mould yourself so that your shyness and anxiety doesn’t cause a hindrance to your successful performance.
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How you perform in the Lecturette, the Group Discussion, the Command Task, the Group Task, the Interview and other tests, all can get affected if you let your shyness and anxiety control you. Leaving SSB aside, even general life functioning will be affected.
According to Dr. Bernardo J. Carducci, shyness has three components:
Excessive Self-Consciousness – you are overly aware of yourself, particularly in social situations.
Excessive Negative Self-Evaluation – you tend to see yourself negatively.
Excessive Negative Self-Preoccupation – you tend to pay too much attention to all the things you are doing wrong when you are around other people.
One tends to feel shy and socially anxious due to various internal (from within the individual) and external (the outside environment) factors.
Having a low self -esteem and doubting oneself is an example of internal factors, while being labelled as a shy person by other people is an example of external factors.
How can one overcome shyness and social anxiety?
- Engaging with others.
Start with indulging in small talk with people. It could be in a supermarket, metro rides, restaurants, neighbours, etc. The more you engage and get exposure to different individuals, the more confident you will be in dealing with diverse individuals.
- Understand your anxiety.
Try and figure out what makes you anxious. Try to find out the specific situations that make you act shy in front of people and understand how it affects your life. Having this information will make it simpler for you to combat your shyness and anxiety in social settings.
- Act confidently.
Confidence can be learned and it comes through practice. There must have been so many things you might have been afraid of in your childhood but I’m sure you’ve overcome those fears now. Avoiding social gatherings and interaction is the problem and facing this situation with confidence and self-belief is the solution.
- Develop confident body language.
Make your body language such that people feel and think that you’re a positive and an open person. Smile, give warm and affectionate handshakes, make eye contact, walk with your head held high, and speak clearly and effectively.
- Focus on the moment.
While talking and conversing with others shift your focus from yourself, how you look, how you talk to what’s being spoken. Focus on the content, the words, the expressions and the tone.
- Turn self-consciousness to self-awareness.
With your understanding of what makes you shy, seek within yourself and observe yourself. Self-awareness is the first step towards any change or life improvement.
- Practice social skills.
Social skills aren’t hard to cultivate. Practice them and figure out what you should do and how you should behave in particular situations.
- Try new things in life.
You get one life to live and there are n number of things to do and goals to achieve. Don’t let your social anxiety take control of your life. Join a club, go to a new place, play a new sport, do things that you’ve never done before even if it makes you anxious. This is the best way you will gain confidence.