RE: Seeking counsel - yet another difficult work situation (very long!)

Subject: RE: Seeking counsel - yet another difficult work situation (very long!)
From: "Jones, Donna" <DJones -at- zebra -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 22 Dec 2004 16:20:08 -0600

> -----David Downing wrote:-----
> So do you have any practical suggestions for how to combat shyness?

I used to be painfully shy as a kid, but no one who knows me now believes that. :-) The butterflies in my stomach almost used to make me physically ill, and I used to blush so hard that I think I was red all the way down to my toes. Just making yourself do something is the best remedy for getting over shyness. You may be shaking while you do it, but you'll most likely survive it. Then the next time, it won't be quite as difficult to do, and so on.

I would also recommend taking a public speaking class. Standing up in front of others then having them critique you is probably just this side of hell for a shy person, but the practice you get there in front of strangers makes it easier to deal with the people who you know. I had a class in college and another as part of a train-the-trainer session at a job, and they made me come out of my shell more than anything else did. After I survived those, I knew that I could deal with just about anything.

Here are a couple of specific scenarios and how you might choose to deal with them:

- If you're worried that the person who you're approaching doesn't want to talk to you, put a smile on your face, walk up, state why you're there ("I have a question about the ABC feature of Project XYZ", and ask if you can take up a few minutes of his/her time. It's unlikely that you'll be completely turned away. Know what you're going to ask ahead of time (including using correct terminology when possible) so you appear on top of things and so you can make the interaction go as quickly and smoothly as possible.

- If the person is truly busy and can't spare a moment, ask when a better time will be to talk. Show up at that time, even if they still appear busy. Reschedule as often as necessary. Most people will start feeling guilty after putting you off once or twice and will be more willing to work with you. Use that to your advantage!

- If you're in the person's work area and are nervous, comment on something to help break the ice. Stuff like that will help you and the other person to relax. Then you can move onto the topic that you came to discuss.
- "Is that a picture of your (wife/kids/car)?
How nice!"

- "Oh, I see you have a picture of a sailboat.
Do you sail?" If they respond by asking you
if you sail, you don't have to lie and say
that you do if you don't. You can answer,
"No, I don't sail, but I've always thought
that sailboats look so elegant."

Planning can make things easier as well:

- If you're nervous about saying the wrong thing, write down what you want to cover and go from your notes. You can even send the questions in an e-mail first. Print out the message after you send it, and bring it with you. You can open with, "Did you get a chance to read the message I sent?"

- If you happen to be nervous about walking into a room full of people, get there early enough that not many people are there yet. It's not as nerve-wracking to sit and watch them come in as it is to walk in and have all eyes be on you.

And if none of this helps, you can always resort to the old trick of picturing everyone in their underwear. I did it once before I had to speak in front of a large group of people, and it worked! By the time I had to say a word, I wasn't afraid of speaking to them any more.


Donna L. Jones
Technical Writer II
Zebra Technologies Corp.
Vernon Hills, IL
djones -at- zebra -dot- com



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