Shyness can affect anyone at any time but in business it can have negative side effects. There is no room for shyness when wooing new clients, making a make-or-break presentation, or even negotiating your salary.
"It’s important to put your shyness aside because your co-workers may misinterpret your shyness for something completely different. Shy employees have been viewed as uppity, uncaring, and not present," says performance coach Dianne Bowdary. "Much of our success in the workplace is built on developing professional relationships. Shy people tend to miss out on key opportunities to engage with others, and can easily be passed over when it’s time for promotions."
But putting shyness aside is easier said than done. But there are ways to get out of your shell and be noticed in the business arena.
Practice holding conversations with strangers, keep up on the news to give yourself small-talk topics and keep a friendly smile on your face so people will feel at ease in approaching and talking with you.
If you are an introvert, Bowdary says try three tips to help you overcome this:
1. Challenge yourself. "Force yourself to network. Be open to attending events and speaking with others to help you reduce stress or anxiety. You’ll need to balance this with alone time, so know your limits before you get irritated," says Bowdary.
2. See yourself as a helper. "As you develop relationships, think of what you can do for the other person, and not what that person can do for you," notes Bowdary.
3. Get involved. "Join a club that fits your interests, and yet requires you to interact with others. Over time, you will start interacting more with others," she says.
Before meetings or presentations, use these tips to overcome performance jitters:
1. Be well-versed in the subject. Know your topic inside out.
2. Repeat, repeat, repeat. "Practice delivering the presentation over and over again, and videotape yourself. After a few trial runs, you’ll become more and more comfortable with the material and your delivery," says Bowdary.
3. Let it go. "Release a lot of the energy right before the presentation. That may mean letting out a
loud and crazy scream alone in an empty room, or dancing in front of the mirror and laughing at yourself," advises Bowdary. "Keep some of the nervous energy and transform it into passion for your topic."
Once you have conquered your fears, don't go too far the other way and become the office extrovert. Strike a balance. "Extroverts can be viewed as lacking authenticity or that they want to be the center of attention," offers Bowdary. "It’s very important to find the right balance, and be true to who you really are."