What Do Your Friends Think About Your Shyness?

The most successful businesses make asking their customers and suppliers for feedback a regular part of conducting business. This is how they find out how they can improve their products and services. They want to make doing business with them a pleasure for their customers. They encourage complaints.

Is it a good idea for an individual to do this? You could ask your friends for feedback about you. Are you shy? Are you fun to be around? Are you boastful?

Some people suggest doing this. They say it isn't about bashing your ego, it's about getting a good look at who you are. You may have taken a personal inventory to get a better idea about yourself, now it's time to get others to help you, they argue.

You could ask your friends what are your three greatest strengths and weaknesses, what they like most and least about you. You could ask open-ended questions to really encourage them to talk, and name as few or as many attributes about you as they like. Or if they could change one thing about you, what it would be.

Do I think this is a good idea? No.

The point may not be to hurt your ego or put you down, but that is what could happen. It could damage or wreck friendships. It could cause you to see your friends in a different, undesirable light and even cause them to see you in a different, undesirable light!

Why point out the hole in the doughnut?

It is true that it is very difficult for us to see ourselves as others see us. We might not even be aware of the things we're doing to annoy others, and we can't change our behavior until we become aware of it.

The problem is that, even if you became aware of what was wrong about you, this assumes that you would be able to change it. This is not necessarily true. Many of our mannerisms and aspects of our personality are unconscious. Even if we became aware of them, odds are it would be very difficult or impossible to do anything about it.

Many shy people have had the experience of being asked "why are you so quiet?" Does being asked this question help them in any way? No. If anything, it makes them all the more self-conscious.

Better is to do an inventory of yourself. You are your own harshest critic anyway. Divide a sheet of paper into two columns. On one side, lists what you think are your best attributes. On the other side, list what you think are your greatest weaknesses. Make sure you list the same number of strengths as weaknesses. You will probably find things that you can work on, and you won't have to risk endangering your friendships.

Any type of self-improvement takes guts. Assuming you are your own best friend, and you should be, you know that what you write on that sheet of paper in the minuses column is in your own best interests.

In addition, it is well to keep in mind that we will never be able to appeal to everyone we meet. Some of our natural traits just will not click with others. Rather than trying to totally remake our personality (an impossible task) it is better to try to improve those things about ourselves that we can and then to work to find those people who will accept us as we are.

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