the right track but aren't enough; the drinking/drugging may even
harm. What will help?
Some of the mildly shy see the problem of nervousness very
differently from the chronically shy (Zimbardo, Pilkonis & Norwood,
1975). Excessively shy people have a hapless view, "I look terrible, I
say such dumb things, my nervousness is an obvious, awful,
unavoidable problem," whereas the non-shy person, who is actually
having similar and equal physiological stress reactions, is more hopeful
and apt to say, "Some people or some situations make me
uncomfortable, but that's OK, it's normal, I'll start a conversation
anyway." That is a better way to look at your nervousness. So, if you
get stressed out, stop putting yourself down, stop imagining everyone
is scrutinizing just you and deftly finding from 30 feet all your faults.
Keep on interacting. To further reduce these negative self-evaluations,
some therapists simply provide shy people with successful experiences
Montgomery, 1986). It works. Likewise, most of us have had the
experience of becoming temporarily more outgoing and self-confident
during or after certain experiences, such as a love relationship, being
an athletic star, or doing very well in school. What we think and feel
about ourselves, our self-esteem, influences our shyness and may
come from observing our own behavior. In any case, adopting a
hopeful, I-can-change-my-social-behavior way of thinking is
important, then DO SOMETHING, like smiling and greeting people,
making small talk, give a compliment, etc. (Glass & Shea, 1986).
What are some other things you can do about shyness? Learn
students practical speech communication skills, like in speech class,
and forget about "therapy" for anxiety. Many other psychologists
would do the opposite, namely, focus on relaxation and desensitizing
the nervousness, and forget speech skills. Others would use cognitive
methods (correcting negative thoughts, giving self-instructions,
planning) and improve their self-concept by building self-confidence
and self-esteem (all in chapter 14). Stop thinking how stupid you
sound; stop wanting to be humorous, brilliant, and perfect. Stop
focusing on how nervous you feel and focus on the other person,
making them comfortable, helping them tell their story and share their
feelings with you.
Almost all therapists would recommend lots of practice interacting
by first imagining successful conversations with different people.
Maybe you can role play with a friend. Then try out your new skills,
talking to people at work, on the Internet, going out with friends, etc.
Prepare things to say and ask in advance. Learn and think about
current social/political issues, listen to the news, see movies, polish
self-help books for shyness (Miller, 1996; McCullough, 1992; Marshall,
1994; Zimbardo & Radl, 1979; Zimbardo & Radl, 1981 and 1999;
Powell, 1981; Gelinas, 1987; Cheek, 1989), but the best are Butler