"SHY? I'm sorry, honey, but that's not being shy. That's just being rude."
I wondered later if I was a bit too harsh with my little girl. She is only three! But then I thought of all the adults I meet on a regular basis who act the same way. They hide behind their best friend/partner/spouse/colleague, instead of stepping out on their own, making their own voices and thoughts heard and being friendly and social with others.
These are the people that work me to near exhaustion in social settings as I try to make them feel comfortable, ask them questions about themselves and try to pull anything out of them other than one word answers.
Then, these same people go home and complain (or complain in my seminars) that no one approaches them, no one is interested in them, people are always cold and they just don’t like events and parties.
No, this was a lesson that my 3-year-old needed to learn - the earlier, the better!
I have no doubt my daughter will come out of her shell. But what about the adults in my seminars, members of my family, and maybe even other people like you, dear reader, who still have trouble going to events on their own, introducing themselves with confidence and making friendly small talk?
Here are my top 3 ways to come out of your shell in 2012. Don’t waste another minute! Make this the year that you approach the world with greater confidence. You’ll be surprised what a difference this will make in your relationships!
1. Own the Place!
Walking into a room full of strangers makes everyone a bit nervous. It’s easy to fall back on adolescent insecurities: “Will they like me? Am I good enough? Cool enough? Will I be accepted?” It’s normal for teenagers to have these thoughts as they try to find their place in the world. As adults, it’s time for us to grow up and have more confidence in ourselves.
As long as you think you’re not good enough, you’re probably not. That sounds harsh, but until you’re able to accept and love yourself for who you are, how are you going to be able to give to others?
It’s time to shift your mindset. Shoulders back, chest out, chin up! Own the place! And while you’re at it, own your dress, your hair, and most importantly, your attitude. The minute you feel insecure about anything, change your mindset. Accept whatever shortcoming you think you have, and own it. You are who you are, and you’re awesome in your own special way, usually because of these perceived shortcomings.
2. Pretend It’s Your Party
When you throw a party, how do you act? You probably do your best to make all of your guests feel welcome. You probably check in with different people to be sure they’re having fun. And you probably introduce your guests to each other and help them start new conversations so they all have a nice time. What if you carried this same attitude over to other social situations and networking events? What if you entertained people as if you were the one throwing the party?
By thinking of yourself as the host, you take a lot of pressure off of yourself because suddenly you’re thinking about other people and their feelings instead of focusing on your own. There is no better feeling than the one we get when we know we have helped someone else.
3. Just Go!
There are so many social and professional networking opportunities even in the smallest of towns. It’s easy to come up with excuses for why we can’t go – we’re tired, we’re too busy this week, we don’t want to go alone, the dog needs to be walked, etc. The real reason is usually that anxiety and self doubt about meeting new people. If you never go, you’ll never know what you’re missing, and opportunities will continue to pass you by.
If you’re having trouble committing to attending events, and you find yourself always saying ‘no’, start small. Ask people in your circles where they like to network and hang out and tag along with them. Decide how much time you can dedicate to social and professional events each month and then actually use that time to go meet new people. Maybe it’s just one evening each month, or maybe it’s one evening per week or more. Try to register and pay for events early so it’s harder to back out at the last minute, and make sure to organize your schedule so you don’t have any reason to cancel.
The more events you attend, the more comfortable you will become in these situations. You’ll realize that you really can be social and you no longer need to hide in your shell.
Opportunities are everywhere, but it’s up to you to see them and act on them. Come out of your shell and make the most of this year by developing greater confidence and building new relationships.