I recently attended Social Business Boot Camp where Couch Surfing Ori acted as the MC, a well organized event with knowledgeable and engaging presenters. During the afternoon sessions they held a business panel. We were asked to submit questions that Ori then went through and asked the panelists to discuss.
The first question was about being shy and in social media: How do you recommend that someone who is shy become more involved in social media? Great! A question I could completely relate to. Only, Ori then began asking the panelists to talk about how they would get their shy employees to join social media. Wait, what?
The organizers then gave the woman who asked the question a prize bag and asked her to tell everyone what was in it. She gave her response and sat back down. She had just asked a question that told everyone that she was shy, and they had her stand in front of the conference attendees and talk? Really?
And then it made sense.
The organizers, the panelists, the MC, all outgoing people. And the conference attendees, we showed up, we had the same interests as the hosts and presenters, we were just like them. We were outgoing too. So that question about shy people, that had to be about people who weren’t there. Right. Well, not exactly.
And really, I think it comes down to perceptions. We tend to perceive people as similar to ourselves, until proven wrong. How many times have you been mistaken for being stuck up when really you were just reserved, shy, or overwhelmed? I’ve come to believe that this happens because it doesn’t occur to outgoing people that you might just be shy.
People who are outgoing and gregarious, they don’t know what it feels like to have your breathing speed up when attention is brought to you. They don’t understand the tightness in your chest when you know you need to go up to a stranger and introduce yourself. They haven’t felt their brains ice over right before each and every presentation, not even remembering their own name. The real, physical, sometimes violent need to vomit when faced with a room full of people you don’t know, yeah, they don’t know that either. Even now reading this, they don’t believe me.
And I’m not sure they need to. The problem isn’t them. Or us. The problem is letting shyness keep you from engaging. And that was the real question. How do you engage as a shy person? Put yourself out there despite the unease? Where do you start? Thinking about these questions brought me here, to Social Media Social Caterpillar. Welcome to my chrysalis. I may never be a Social butterfly, but I don’t want to stay under that leaf forever.