If there’s one thing that can hold you back in your career it’s lacking confidence when it comes to speaking up. When you’re coping with shyness you might find the day-to-day social aspects of your office life difficult. From meetings with clients and networking events for your sector, to internal presentations with your colleagues and briefings with your boss, learning how to overcome your shyness to deal with the social aspect of your career is really important.
One of the things about working in a busy office environment is that you’ll always have a group of people around you, coming and going. If you’re not a person who naturally bubbles with confidence, this can be rather unsettling, and may even distract you from your working routine.
It’s more and more common for shyness to be shrugged off, but if you find your shyness escalating to more complex issues such as social anxiety, it’s essential to put some coping mechanisms in place. Leaving things can spur a risky cycle of isolation, loneliness, and even depression – all of which carry their own burdens and stresses.
Conquer your shyness to help your career flourish, by following these tips.
#1 | Acknowledge Your Weaknesses, as Well as Your Strengths
There’s no miracle cure to make a shy person suddenly brimming with confidence; but it’s worth asking yourself what it actually is that makes you shy. Does one of your colleagues intimidate you? Do you lack confidence through a lack of understanding of your job? Do you feel anxiety when working with a large number of people or in meetings?
Understanding the pain points that are affecting your career will help you to better channel your energy into improving. Recognise where your weaknesses lie and work out how to manage and cope with these. It’s worth thinking also about where your strengths lie – you may be able to utilise what you’re really good at to alleviate your shyness.
#2 | Plan Ahead and Get Preppin’
Feeling confident comes more naturally when you actually know your stuff. If you’ve got a meeting coming up, a presentation or an event…practice, practice, practice! Get prepping for those moments where you know you’ll be outside your comfort zone. Research the material, write notes, come up with conversation prompts, and consider what questions you might be able to ask or even answers to questions others may ask you. Entering an environment that usually makes you feel uncomfortable is a hell of a lot easier when you’ve prepared and planned ahead.
Likewise, if you have a meeting coming up centred on material that you find difficult to understand, it’s worth looking into the topic extensively and familiarising yourself with it. Being the only one in the room that doesn’t understand and being too hesitant to speak up can really set you back and kick off those feelings of low confidence.
If you really are struggling, turn up with some questions – this shows you’ve actually looked into the topic and are proactively trying to grow upon your existing knowledge. You never know, once you ask the question, others may breathe a sigh of relief, as it’s been burdening them too.
#3 | Always Make a Note of Your Creative Ideas
You can feel disheartened going to a meeting. You’re probably used to your voice being lost amongst more bold and confident members of your team. It can be really hard to vocalise what you’re thinking and interject into the conversation when there are bigger personalities in the room.
You may have something great to say but feel overshadowed by others; or you may completely forget what you were going to say once the pressure of the situation hits. Try to plan ahead and make a physical note of your creative ideas and talking points. That way you’ll have something to directly refer to in meetings.
Entering the conversation to begin with can be a bit of a battle. If a colleague is suggesting an idea you like, try to be quick to vocalise this and offer ideas of your own to extend upon theirs. Likewise, if you’re feeling a little bolder, why not disagree with an idea, but suggest alternatives that you think might be better.
If you don’t feel comfortable presenting your ideas in front of a group of people in a meeting at all, write them down so that you can present them at a later date or send via email as a follow-up to your colleagues. This way it’ll show that you are making an effort, without falling under the radar.
#4 | Focus on Building a Few Strong Relationships First
When you’re in a roomful of people – whether that’s the office, a networking event or a meeting – it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and close yourself off. Although the dynamics of your job may seem very different to life outside the office, it’s worth remembering that you don’t need to be best friends with everyone.
Building good working relationships with your colleagues is obviously important, but a way to make this more manageable is to start small. Focus on making lasting connections with a few people first and harness these relationships. Having a ‘support team’ of colleagues can help you to grow and better channel your energy into your company, without the panic of having to reach out to every single colleague on a personal level.
The thought of small office chat may make you panic, so why not make a mental note of a few conversation starters you can use with flexibility. If the weekend’s just finished and you’re faced with another Monday morning in the office, anticipate the office mood and turn up feeling calm. Having a funny or interesting story ready to share can help strike up a conversation and break any of those awkward pauses, without the worry of being put on the spot and at a loss of what to say.
#5 | Recognise That Not Everyone is Naturally Confident
Just like anything in life, you need to practice confidence if you want to embrace it fully. Many people stand by the mantra ‘act the part, be the part’. Research has actually shown that shy people who experimented with power poses and confident thoughts were actually able to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress in social situations. Try mirroring the confidence of others and finding your own ‘confident place’ – whether that’s power posing, dressing up smart, or switching on that internal voice that says ‘you can do this’.
And don’t forget, it’s perfectly okay not to be naturally confident and centre-stage in the spotlight. Shyness should never be considered as a negative trait. Success is all about playing to your strengths and working around (not necessarily eliminating) your weaknesses.
What helps you feel confident at work? Let us know by tweeting @CelebriciousCom.