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Admin Pro Forum

Have you ever been told you’re too shy?

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Question: "I'm definitely an introvert, and I've never really had a problem with that, but recently my boss told me that she could see my shyness becoming an issue since I'm going to be having to deal more and more with vendors and hotels and outside clients. She wasn't trying to criticize; she was just trying to explain how the job might get tougher based on my personality. Has anyone else been told something like this, and did you ever consider trying even a small personality 'makeover' to match the job?" - Iris, McAllen, Tx.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark August 16, 2018 at 10:33 am

I am off the charts introverted AND shy. I am the person in the back corner seat at conferences or seminars so I can make a quick exit and hopefully not have to talk to anyone. I usually will bring a newspaper to read before the session starts and while on breaks in hopes it keeps people from starting up conversations. At work I take a very late lunch break when almost everyone else is done, or I take the break in my truck, so I can have some solitude. My quietness did come up in reviews, because it can come across as being unfriendly and uncaring. While I am still introverted and shy, I force myself daily to interact with co-workers and somewhat keep up with what is going on in their lives. While it may be out of my comfort zone, it actually shows up in my views now as a strength that I make a daily effort to interact with everyone. Outside of work I am the same person that I have always been, but when I walk in the office doors, although I am not Mr. Bubbly and outgoing, I try to put Mr. Introvert on hold for the next nine hours.


Anita August 14, 2018 at 8:31 pm

Iris, most people I know have grown into their profession because of job requirements and because they were given opportunities. I hope your boss gives you the opportunity to show that you are up for the challenge and can adapt instead of her just assuming you can’t handle it. You will get used to speaking with these people and will most likely build rapport with them, it just takes a conversation or two. I’m still shy but found I enjoy most people and grow from interacting with them. Best to you.


Susan August 14, 2018 at 10:09 am

I refer to myself as a card carrying introvert and am proud of it. I appreciate the joys of quiet and recharging through time alone. “The Introvert’s Way” by Sophia Dembling is a great book I would suggest both of you read. It really helped me to realize that introversion is a personality trait and there is nothing wrong with me. I have never had any problems with doing my job; I struggle more with social settings.


Renee August 13, 2018 at 1:41 pm

I am an Introvert but I am not shy. In my case I have found that I am duty oriented and do well at communicating with vendors or customers without issues. The only time I am uncomfortable and am challenge is in social settings. To overcome that I have Googled the: art of conversation; topics for conversation etc. This has helped a great deal.


Dianne August 10, 2018 at 1:04 pm

Hi Iris, there are some wonderful suggestions here IF you feel the need for any of them. In response to your question, I’ve never had anyone comment on my personality except when the team took a Meyers-Briggs type training and that was the discussion! You say yourself that it wasn’t a criticism, more like a concern that you may feel overwhelmed with a new part of your job. Your boss is equating your being an introvert with shyness, but you don’t mention being shy. Take it as it was intended, a genuine concern that you can do the job; have a discussion, if you feel the need, to define the difference. Otherwise, we, especially admins and even more especially women, adapt ALL THE TIME, sometimes without even realizing it! As Heather says “it’s my job” and I (we) do what needs to be done to complete the job. I wish you well and hope you have fun with this new part of your job!


Dona Carlisle August 10, 2018 at 9:01 am

I would highly recommend joining a professional organization like Toastmasters to help you feel more confident in situations where you are needing to speak up.


Myrna Baumgart August 9, 2018 at 5:40 pm

Yes – I have been told I’m shy, but being an introvert doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. Trying to change your personality isn’t the answer. If you are happy in your job otherwise, think of it as an opportunity for personal and professional development. There are workshops that address assertiveness and other skills that would benefit you in this area. Anyone can learn how to deal with vendors, hotels and clients. It just takes practice, so give yourself time.


Genny August 9, 2018 at 4:42 pm

I’m an introvert in certain social situations, especially where there are other strong extroverted personalities in play. Over the years, I’ve taken courses on the topic and have attempted to redirect my natural inclinations. The best luck I’ve had however is when I’ve become very knowledgeable about my job, my company, its history and the products and services available to whatever group it is that I might be dealing with – in my case that’s often volunteers. When you know your stuff and how to get it done, that’s the best way to exude confidence. Then just be real. Learn a couple of small talk phrases to start or fill in an empty spot– you can always comment on the weather – that’s pretty neutral and allows some breathing space and friendly banter.


Ruth August 9, 2018 at 4:30 pm

Introversion and shyness do not always go hand in hand. While I’m an introvert, I’m not shy; people just seem to make that assumption. As the assistant to a very busy CEO, it’s my job to greet guests and welcome them to the office. I agree with Heather, don’t let the comment distract you from doing your very best.


Claudia Wright August 9, 2018 at 4:21 pm

From one introvert to another I can say I feel your pain! I too had to learn to overcome my shyness. Management at a previous job suggested I attend the Dale Carnegie Course and read Dale Carnegie books i.e. How to Stop Worrying & Start Living, How to Win Friends & Influence People, etc. While I still consider myself an introvert, with training and practice I actually got to the point where I was a member of the Speakers Bureau. I still consider myself an introvert, I now know that when I need to, I can be more outspoken and not as shy with vendors, customers, etc. Don’t let the change scare you… One day at a time – one client at a time.


Cheryl August 9, 2018 at 4:14 pm

I have never been told I am an introvert – not even close! That being said, I do know that I have to change my approach to different situations based on the particular needs of the people and situation. I also have had to change how I approach things with different CEO’s over the years. They are not going to change their personality for me, so I adjust mine to fit with theirs. In dealing with Board members and other stakeholders, I find that adjusting my personality for each individual is best. It makes them feel more comfortable working with me and has positively influenced my career overall. Baby steps on all of this. Try being more outspoken with a few people that you are comfortable with by making suggestions in meetings or sharing your opinions. Once you have had practice with those inside your company, try practicing the same with outside vendors. I am sure you will do great!


Heather August 9, 2018 at 4:10 pm

When I was a manager working for a bank and supervised 50 staff they came in and did a Myers-Briggs assessment on all the managers. We each had to meet one on one with the person who would be giving us our test and reviewing our results and asked where we felt we would show up on the scale. I told the person I was an introvert. Sure enough, the results showed I was “off-the-charts” introvert and they had never seen anything like it. He asked me how I could do my job at the time and my response was ‘it’s my job’. While my preferred is introverted it didn’t mean I wasn’t up for the job and responsibilities at the time. I learned how to deal with all my responsibilities at the time. Don’t let the comment distract from your ability to do the job.


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