Tag Archives: Assertiveness

Overcome Shyness Through Friendly Conversation

I ran into a friend the other day on the train. I didn’t notice her at first, because she looked different. You know when you see somebody you are pretty sure that you know, but it takes a few moments for you to remember exactly where you know them from? This was one of those times. She was sitting directly across from me, and was reading some book. It didn’t look like a novel, rather it looked like some kind of trade paperback or something. It was actually her that recognized me, as I was craning my neck around to try and see the title she was reading.

She said my name, and could tell by my expression that I couldn’t remember exactly who she was. I think it is fascinating that women are much better at this kind of thing that men are. I played a game once with a group of people called ‘liars.’ People got into groups of three, and then decided amongst themselves which one would tell a true story, and which would tell a lie. There was always one liar and two truth tellers. The game was to keep asking questions until you could catch the liar in a lie. The women are almost always better at this than men.

I read an interesting book once that I think explained it. It said that this was a leftover trait of our hunter/gatherer past. Men would generally go out and look for things to kill (hunt) and women would stay home at the caves, and take care of the kids and collect fruit and stuff (gather.) And this book was saying that women were able to develop a skill that allowed them to really be able to read peoples emotions a lot better than men. I guess this is a lot easier when you can understand your own emotions. And since women are much better at this than men, they are better at being able to read facial expressions much better.

And as it turns out, my friend was reading the classic book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. She said that she was enrolled in a public speaking class through her company, and the book was required reading. She said that she decided to read this book a long time ago, and did, but since she forgot a lot of the important stuff, she made the decision to read this again. She told me that when you find something that is of value, it’s important to read this over and over to make sure you can squeeze every useful thing out of it.

And it turns out that is why I didn’t recognize her. She used to be a really shy person. When she walked, she never really was ever able to make eye contact with people, and usually had her shoulders slumped. You had to get to know her before she was comfortable in expressing herself. It was only then that you could discover what a great person she was. Now she is really enthusiastic about public speaking. She says that when you don’t express your true self to others, you really are doing yourself and others a disservice. Because when you can really feel comfortable to be able to express yourself without any fear or anxiety, people can have a chance to get to know you for who you really are. Which is likely a pretty cool person when you think of all the good stuff you’ve done in your life.

Come to think of it, she’s always been a pretty supportive person. And now she’s happy that she doesn’t have to wade through her shyness to let people discover her. Kind of cool when you think about it.

Unfortunately, she was getting off at the next stop, and I had a few stops to go. But it was good that I saw her. We’ll have to get together sometime in the future.