Note: This is a guest post from Dan Stelter of Anxiety Support Network
While many people, including socially anxious and shy people themselves, consider shyness to be in general a weakness, there are in fact several strengths this condition brings about. The strengths themselves go against what is considered to be the standard convention, which is why they do not appear to be strengths. Following are seven of these apparent weaknesses, and how, when used right, they are actually strengths.
1. Cautious thinking. While cautious thinking can really hold you back when you need to act quickly at times, it can also be a great strength. Say you encounter a really difficult problem at work. If you make a snap or reactionary decision, you can find yourself in a world of trouble fast. Sometimes, thinking things through for a few days and considering them from multiple different angles is in fact the best route.
2. Meekness can make you approachable. If you appear to be an ordinary joe, people can feel more comfortable in approaching you at work or a social gathering. While being meek is not necessarily praised in Western society, it can be a social strength. Compare this to a person who is really aggressive and outspoken – no one wants to go near that guy.
3. Being quiet leads to a calming effect on others. Other people will notice that you do not say a whole heck of a lot, and very often they choose to view shy people as simply being more calm. In American society, where people are more often rewarded for “tooting their own horn,” being quiet and calm can have a profound positive impact on other people.
4. Appearing vulnerable is great for certain jobs. Shy people appear to be vulnerable and easily taken advantage of by others, which can be the case in work environments that reward the most aggressive competitors. However, for various human-service-oriented jobs such as working with mentally disabled people, counseling, or therapy, appearing vulnerable causes other people to open up to you more, which is a great benefit to have in your life if you are going to be successful in these lines of work.
5. Shy people can appear to others to be innocent or good. In many situations in life, it is better to be the innocent or good person, rather than the outgoing and dominant person. Socially, people may respect you more than the aggressive and dominant individual, which leads to them having a stronger trust in you. In many cases, having an innocent or good appearance can be a great trait to have for an up-and-coming leader.
6. Shy people tend to be more believable. In comparison to people who are aggressive and outgoing who may be viewed as more self-serving, shy people, because of the “good guy” impression they make on others, are more trusted and believable. Though it is scary for them, shy people can become effective public speakers and leaders for this reason.
7. Being shy teaches us from an early age how to overcome barriers. From an early age, Gandhi was a very shy person. In fact, even as a lawyer in his early 30s, he was so shy that he could barely speak in front of a judge. He was obviously very unsuccessful, until he found the right cause. Shy people, because they have a barrier that holds them back from things most others enjoy with ease, are taught how to overcome those barriers. Once you learn how to overcome your shyness, every other barrier in life will be easy in comparison.
There you have it – 7 great strengths that shy people have. It’s amazing, how, when you really sit down and think about certain things in life, they have positives too. So, I urge you to sit down and think about your shyness. Even though it causes problems at times, it has great strengths as well. What are those great strengths for you?
Dan Stelter is the author of the Anxiety Support Network, an anxiety recovery blog dedicated to reinventing the way people think about anxiety disorders.
Photo by Auntie K