You probably know someone in the workplace who has a problem with shyness. You know them – the introvert who never leaves his cubicle and even takes snacks and his lunch there. Some people are so shy that they opt to take heavier and heavier loads of paperwork as their quota in the office, because this gives them an excuse not to interact with superiors and colleagues (or at least not as often.)
Others express their shyness by just nodding quickly at co-workers as they pass by or avoiding making eye contact altogether. Such people get unfairly labeled as the office weirdos when in fact they are simply painfully shy.
What are the best approaches for overcoming shyness in the workplace?
A manager who notices that one of his employees is quite shy should make an effort to draw him into group
meetings and discussions. Do not worry – involving him more deeply into group interaction is good for him. Ask his opinion about office problems and issues, even in front of co-workers.
This will show him that you value his input. You may be surprised how much such a shy person can contribute, given the chance. At simple gatherings, such as when the staff takes a break to go to the cafeteria for lunch, try inviting the shy employee to your table for lunch. He may seem surprised at the offer, and even hesitate, but if it is the boss who asks, who can refuse? The employee will become more confident because of the attention and honor being shown to him.
A manager with a really introverted staffer can ask other people in the same department – particularly the nice, approachable ones – to help by also approaching the shy employee. They could invite their shy colleague to a weekend out with the rest of the staff. Some companies deliberately encourage their employees to form sports teams like softball and touch football teams that allow everyone to become weekend warriors. This gives people who are otherwise preoccupied with work from Monday to Friday to get to know one another better in their leisure time.
Effects of shyness:
Shyness is one cause of underemployment, or the state when a person is employed at a rank lower than his capabilities. This is because shy people give the impression that they are not capable of much more than the expectations of that low position. A shy person who wants to move up in the organization may find his shyness to be a barrier to promotion.
For example, if he wants to go up to the boss and ask for a raise or to be given a better job, he may discover himself to be tongue-tied and lose his nerve. Or he may think so poorly of his credentials and capabilities that he finds it difficult to promote himself as being the right person for the job he secretly eyes.