We all get a bit shy sometimes and we know it can be a problem for some. With our new course about to start tonight, we thought we’d pass on a few tips based on the confidence techniques we teach to overcome those nerves and get you out of your shell!
Firstly, everyone feels nervous. About everything. If we say we are not nervous then we are either lying or numb to the world around us. Nervousness and excitement are very similar emotions and they are the very essence that propels us to do well. They shouldn’t hold us back from the things we love, and feeling nervous about a situation can mean that you are a: alert to your surroundings, b: you care how others see you and c: you care about how you will perform. Shyness can be a lack of self esteem – when people think about why they feel shy in a certain situation the usual responses are that they “didn’t want to make a fool of themselves”, “were worried about meeting someone (a date) for the first time and how the other person would respond”, “worried about not knowing what to say” or “didn’t like people looking at me”.
It sounds ridiculous but first steps to over coming shyness is to pretend. Shyness is usually a confidence issue and the taller we walk, the more eye contact we give to others, the more the above statements can be turned into a positive. You really won’t look like a “fool” by walking tall and giving eye contact. Yes, you will feel strange, and probably still feel nervous but no one needs to know that secret – on the outside all others will see is a confident individual. Practice walking tall by pulling your shoulders back, holding your tongue on the roof of your mouth and imagining there’s a golden string pulling you up from the top of your head. As you walk, take confident breaths of air. Look around you, no one is staring at you or thinking you look a “fool” – they may even be in the same position as you!
Here’s a little exercise we give the ladies on our course… Eye contact. Sounds simple but if you aren’t feeling that confident or a bit shy, eye contact is the last thing you want to make. But think about it, when we’re in a conversation with someone and they are not looking us in the eye, it feels weird, right? If you can, try experimenting with a friend, where they talk to you but not look you in the eye (and vice versa) and then try talking to them by making eye contact. This simple experiment will demonstrate how much more comfortable you will feel by giving (and receiving!) eye contact. Try and get into the practice of making eye contact, whether it’s ordering that coffee, meeting a stranger’s eye in the street (with an accompanying smile – harder we know but every little helps to get you in the practice of doing it all the time), and anytime you have interactions with others, etc. By introducing these small changes into your daily goings on, you will notice a change in your confidence. You will soon be confidently smiling back at others and walking tall, even striking up casual conversations! And it will make you feel good!
So let’s tackle the worrying about being tongue-tied… In most situations we never know what the other person is going to say, and it would be forced to go into a situation with a learned ‘script’ of what to say in case you feel tongue tied, besides that would mean you are not listening to what they have to say and not responding as you will be too busy thinking of what to say next. An obvious point is that conversations come from responding to what others say and adding your own experience/thoughts/recollections, to which they respond by colouring it with theirs… If you are meeting someone for the first time, it’s really interesting to find out who they are in terms of person and personality, what they’ve done (everyone loves talking about their experiences!) and what you have as shared common ground. As a tip, you could have in your mind things that you love to know about people, but a warning, don’t fire off questions, interrogation style! Allow the conversation to flow, take the time to feed on what they have told you mentally and ad your own thoughts/experiences to what they have said. If you like something about them/what they have told you, tell them! We know it can be embarrassing but allowing someone into your thoughts on a situation (warning: politics and religion are probably a no go area unless you like heated debate!) or just complementing their style/looks or point of view can be liberating and will help you feel more at ease and confident.
Shyness at a job or important interview is a bit easier to deal with. Yes, there is the added pressure of wanting to come across as confident and capable and impress the interview panel but you will not be sharing any intimate parts of your life with them. Make the right first impression by using the walking tall techniques above as you walk into the room. Yes, you will feel nervous – everyone does in these situations so you are not alone – you want to do your best and your nerves kicking in show you care about what you are going to do so use them to propel you to do well. Make eye contact as you confidently say hello and shake the hands of the interviewer(s). Now here’s where you can prepare. We all know that in interview situations there are a few standard questions: Why do you want this job? Give us an example of when you’ve given excellent customer service? What skills do you think you will bring to the table, etc. Before the interview, have prepared some excellent answers! Deliver the excellent answers with a confident voice and a smile. Also, revise the job you are applying for so you feel loaded with knowledge, which will make you feel more confident. And have prepared a couple of questions that you really want to know about the job (asking if there is any room for future promotion is a good one as it shows that you want to do well in the position you apply for). And when you leave having created your great impression, don’t forget to thank the interviewers and shake their hands.
Lastly, we will tackle the feeling that everyone is “looking at me”… The very fact is, yes people will be looking at you. We can’t help looking at others, after all, you look at others all the time (no one goes around with their eyes shut!). Ask yourself why you are worried that others will look at you. Is it because you think they will be thinking negative things about you? Here’s a newsflash – they’re not! And here’s why. When you look at others, are you thinking negative things about them? We thought not and we’ll show you… Here’s another experiment – next time you are in a bar or even walking down the street, try and take notice what you think of the people you pass. The chances are that you won’t even think anything about someone unless they stand out for some reason – be that if they are dressed nicely, or in n a rush. Very rarely do we look around and think negative things about people we interact with – unless they give us cause to, by doing something negative to us. The more positive thoughts we throw out, the more positive energy we will channel.
1. Eye contact – as much as possible, and coupled with a smile
2. Walk tall, breath and hold your head up
3. Aim to give at least one person a compliment per day – whether it’s someone you think is dressed nicely on the train (tell them, they will love it and you will feel great for making someone else feel good!) or telling the barista they make lovely coffee, giving compliments = feeling confident and good about yourself.
4. Project the most positive image of yourself – whether that is dressing nicely, being open (smiling, walking tall, listening to others, etc)
5. Focus on your good parts – you have a load of them! Try and find at least one new thing you like about yourself (your hair, eyes, something physical, how you look in a new dress, how you complement others, your humor, your smile, hoe you take an interest in others…) a day and add it to the rest and pretty soon you will be loving all of yourself!