CAREER DEVELOPMENT / FEB. 15, 2015
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5 Facts That Prove Shyness is Holding Back Your Career Success

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When it comes to working your way up the corporate ladder, a few key facts hold true. Among them are the maxims that success is all about who you know, and that no one will give you more than you ask for. While it can take commitment and practice to avoid letting your shyness get in the way of your success at work, here are five reasons to try.

1. Success is all about who you know.

If you’re a shy person, chances are you’re not as inclined to spend time cultivating relationships in the workplace. You might think keeping your head down and doing good work are the only things you need to do to succeed, but the things you do in between that good work can matter just as much. Make a point to get to know your superiors, your co-workers and other professionals in your industry. Attend conferences and networking events, and get out of your shell.

2. Success requires tooting your own horn.

When you get to know people, don’t be afraid to spend a little time boasting. That’s not to say you should become a braggart – but it’s OK to tell people what you’re working on, how well a project is going, or to share other tidbits about your progress in the workplace. Giving your bosses and co-workers little reminders of your worth can work to your benefit when the time comes for raises or promotions to be handed out.

3. Success requires asking for what you want.

Shy people – and most often women – are not just afraid to tell people about their successes; they’re also less inclined to state their intentions directly. If you want that promotion or a shot at the new position that just opened up, don’t expect anyone else to go to bat for you. Get over your fear of rejection and go for it. Even if you don’t get the job on the first try, chances are you’ll be remembered as someone who’s upwardly mobile, which could afford you other opportunities as they arise.

4. Shyness can be construed as lack of enthusiasm.

You may be perfectly fine with observing a situation and keeping your thoughts to yourself. But even if those thoughts are not negative, the fact that you’re not saying anything can make you seem like you’re not happy, or that you’re not enthusiastic about the job or the project you’re working on, suggests Katharine Brooks, EdD, in an article on Psychology Today. To overcome this, make an effort to share some of your thoughts on a more regular basis – even if they seem extraneous to your introverted mind. It takes practice, but it’s a skill that you can learn, says Brooks.

5. You may let people take advantage of you.

Here’s another problem with the way you interact socially: you may let people walk all over you, and you may be afraid to fight back. There’s no need to get nasty, but you can practice being more assertive in order to avoid unfair treatment, getting bullied or being asked to do extra work unnecessarily.

To overcome some of these pitfalls, start by practicing with people you know. That can give you the confidence to start asserting yourself and allowing your more outgoing self to shine through in the workplace.

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