Shyness by Philip G. Zimbardo

An excerpt from the book Shyness by Philip G. Zimbardo a look at fear and being shy that grips many Americans, tips on combating shyness.

SHYNESS by Philip G. Zimbardo. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley Pub. Co., 1977.

About the Book: About 40% of the American population--that's 84 million people--are shy. Another 20% suffer occasional bouts of shyness. Basically, shyness is fear of people. The symptoms are discomfort, awkwardness, exaggerated self-consciousness, stuttering, or tongue-tied silence. Shy people mostly deal with these curses by avoiding the situations that cause them, and therefore cut themselves off from other people. Of course, Zimbardo is quick to point out that some degree of shyness is desirable; reticence will usually prevent you from making a fool of yourself. But overall, shyness that prevents you from living at full tilt should be overcome.

From the Book:

If you find that you have a hard time talking to anyone, you might try some of these things:

- Call the information operator and ask for the telephone numbers of people you want to call. Besides getting practice, you'll know you have the correct number.

Also, thank the operator and note his/her reaction.

-Call a radio talk show to say you like the programming and then ask a question.

-Call a local movie theater and ask for show times.

-Call the library and ask the reference librarian what the population of the United States is, or for some other information you'd like to have.

You can use the phone to get yourself talking to someone while still remaining anonymous. Gradually, you can transfer this experience to calling particular people you want to contact and to greeting people on the street.

Very few of us look like Lauren Hutton or Paul Newman. But each of us can look as good as possible, and probably better than we usually do.

Get a haircut that is good for you--not the latest style. Keep it clean. Use makeup (but not too much) if you want to emphasize the good points of your face.

Figure out what clothes look the best on you; if you don't know, ask a friend. What are your best colors? Use them. Make sure your clothes are clean and pressed. When you dress assertively (and comfortably), you will naturally start feeling more assertive.

For the next week, greet every person that you pass on the street, in your office, or at school. Smile and say, "Hello, nice day," or "have you ever seen so much snow?" or some other short greeting. Since most of us aren't used to being greeted on the street, you may find that many people are surprised when you talk to them. Some may not respond, but in most cases you'll get an equally pleasant response.

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