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HELP!- I Am Shy but People Think I am ‘Stuck-Up’ and a ‘Snob!’ What should I do?

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Courtney Elizabeth Anderson

Courtney Elizabeth Anderson

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In our HELP! SITUATION SPOTLIGHT™ series, we shine the light on challenges that community members have shared with me. This episode is, “I Am Shy but People Think I Am ‘Stuck-Up’ and a ‘Snob!’ What should I do?”

Some people feel very comfortable sharing a lot of personal information about themselves, with large amounts of people very soon after meeting them. That is great! Other people may calculate what what personal information they share, how much they share, how many people they share it with and how long it will take for them to share. That is also great!

The challenge is that some cultures and settings have expectations that are not met by individuals. What that occurs, there may be a resulting negative outcome to the non-conforming individuals. If someone exceeds the expected quantity and quality of expected personal information, they may accused of “TMI” (too much information) or being “crude” or “having a big mouth.” If someone does not meet the minimum expected quantity and quality of expected personal information, they may be accused of being “stuck-up”, a “snob” or “thinking they are better than other people.” For shy individuals it is more often the latter situation that takes place.

The shy person is warm, friendly and engaging! They just calculate how much personal information to share, when to share and whom to share it with differently than others. They are more conservative with their feelings and expressing private information and beliefs (full disclosure, I am very shy).

My suggested tips are: 1) Active listening (eye contact, body language turned toward the speaker, supportive vocalizations, etc.), 2) Ask multiple follow-up questions of the speaker and 3) In some instances it may be helpful to explicitly state to people, “I am shy.”

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