How To Overcome Shyness At Work

Posted: September 2, 2013

Shyness could be a disadvantage for many working women in India. Some tips on how to overcome shyness and gain visibility at work.

By Melanie Lobo

Being shy is something many of us may experience. It could be when you walk into a conference and don’t see a friendly face, or even holding back when a friend suggests you go out and network in order to do better on the work front. Many Indian women today may not fit into this shy mould. However, what happens to those working women in India who are still inhibited by this very trait? Does it hamper their career growth? Are they unable to scale the corporate ladder because of this? 




Anuradha Duttagupta, HR Director, IDeaS – A SAS Company, Pune states that many Indian women are shy and therefore not able to move ahead in their jobs. They are content to remain where they are and in their comfort zone as they are shy. Anuradha says, “Some working women in India let their shyness hold them back. The woman may appear less confident, but actually it is her shyness that prevents her from speaking out, even when she knows she is right“. Whatever the reason, getting ahead at work will not be easy if you are shy.  It might even prevent you from landing the job you want. Working women in India lose out on a lot if they do not make an effort to overcome this shyness. If shyness is properly managed, many Indian women can achieve great heights in their professional life. Overcoming shyness at the workplace is hard but it can be done.

Here are some tips on how to overcome shyness and gain visibility at the workplace:-

1. Recognize your shyness

Accept that you are a shy person and that you need to take steps to help yourself. You are the only person who can make yourself less shy. It begins with you.

2. Break away from your comfort zone

Many a time, Indian women feel secure in a particular job or feel that this is the right place for them to be for the rest of their lives. However, if you really want to make a change and climb that career graph, it is essential that you step out of your comfort zone. Anuradha states, “It all depends on the woman. She needs to know exactly what she wants and what she is going to do to get it.” She urges Indian women to take steps to ensure that they never, “Stop learning. It is an ongoing process.“ Learn from people who are not shy. Observe them and try to incorporate some of their ways when you are faced with a problem where you think your shyness is holding you back.

3. Change your body language

It is very easy to spot a shy person; more often than not, their body language gives them away. So ensure that you always make eye contact with your co-workers, stand tall, and make sure your body language is confident. This will take some time to master, so keep practicing. Also, make sure you look your best while at work. This may not seem very important but it helps while getting your opinions across while at work. People will start to notice you and pay attention to what you are saying.

4. Stay informed

Your shyness might not let you speak out at meetings or even office parties. Remember that you only need to start talking in order to break the ice. You do not have to be an expert on the subject but having some background knowledge on it will help. Become a part of the conversation and you will have taken one of the many steps of getting ahead.

5. Set goals for yourself

Before a presentation or even a job interview, sit back and review areas that make you anxious. Then, work on areas that you are in control of – such as how you will describe your self, what you have achieved and so on. Do a mock presentation to yourself and you will find your fears vanishing.

6. Believe in yourself

This is the last but by no means the least important point to keep in mind when it comes to answering the question on how to overcome shyness. We all know that believing in oneself can work wonders. Ensure that you have that self worth and self confidence to overcome any obstacle – and that includes being shy. Repeat to yourself, if you must, daily a mantra such as “I can do this. I want to go ahead in this industry and I am going to do it.” You will be amazed at what positive thinking can do for you. Be determined to make a mark no matter where you work and what you do.

At the end of the day, only you know what truly makes you happy. Ask yourself how much you are willing to compromise on. The world is out there waiting for you. All you have to do is to take that plunge. The question is, are you willing to? Remember that you can overcome this weakness by taking small baby steps.

*Photo credit: Mr.T In DC (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution license.)

Melanie Lobo is a freelance writer. She grew up in cities across India but now

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