I recently saw the comment of someone on a Reddit thread that went this way: "I can either be social and outgoing or quiet and introverted depending on the situation". The person went on to explain that they actually excel at public speaking yet they find it hard to strike conversations and make friends. This person's experience perfectly illustrates the thrust of the subject we are going to discuss today: situational shyness.
I think virtually everyone I've met can relate to the concept of situational shyness whether they know it or not. Maybe you don't necessarily consider yourself a shy person, yet there have been certain situations where you've found yourself shrinking back timidly, for one reason or another.
Yes, situational shyness is something that happens from time to time in the average person's life, and it causes even the bold and fearless to act a little differently under certain circumstances.
In his book Self-consciousness and Social Anxiety, Arnold H. Buss talks about 3 triggers that tend to cause immediate shyness or situational shyness, which is also known as state shyness.
What are they?
Novelty, the presence of others, and the actions of others.
Those who experience situational shyness can easily relate to those 3 factors. Starting a new school, a new job or simply walking into an unfamiliar building for a brief information session can trigger shyness. After all, it's a novel experience. Being around unfamiliar settings can make you feel nervous and uneasy because you just don't know what to expect.
The presence of others is another element that can result in situational shyness. This is especially true when it comes to introducing yourself to or just generally speaking with strangers. People tend to be more shy in situations with those they don't know compared to interactions with their family and friends.
This is not all that surprising when you consider the previous factor we looked at, the concept of novelty-induced shyness. Meeting new people and interacting with strangers brings together the concepts of novelty and the presence of others.
Many who experience situational shyness have noticed that it sometimes causes them to make social blunders, such as making embarrassing statements that come across as tactless, or simply weird. Such a social faux pas normally comes about from the fact that the speaker is nervous and wants to be friendly but is not able to express themselves effectively.
If you find that you often experience embarrassment and awkwardness when meeting strangers, a good way to get around it is by coming up with a couple of ways to introduce yourself and by getting some practice starting conversations.
I discovered another interesting idea about the presence of others and situational shyness: people normally feel more uncomfortable when they have to deal with people in a "higher status" than them. Those with bold and confident personalities may still experience shyness when they have to interact with their superiors or famous people.
Can you think about any examples when the presence of others has made you feel really anxious?
Another top situation when people experience situational shyness is when they attend formal events. Formal events can lead to situational shyness because one may feel the pressure to behave particularly high-toned in order to meet the expectations and requirements of such a gathering. Situational shyness can also arise when you feel like you're the odd one out in a room because of your outfit - whether you feel like you're under dressed or overdressed.
Situational shyness can also result from the actions of others. For instance, shyness may be triggered when a person feels bombarded with intrusive personal questions. Especially in public. Have you ever been asked a question, and thought - I would love to answer that, but not right now, when everyone's standing here and listening in. Being stared at (and thereby being placed in the center of attention) can also make a person experience shyness.
Overall, people tend to experience a lot more shyness in the following situations: meeting strangers, dealing with the opposite sex, being in large groups and being around people who they consider to have higher social status and importance.
So my friends, that is situational shyness for you. It's interesting to uncover shyness from a different angle, and to learn about situations where most people seem to succumb to shyness, even if they are normally confident.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed or related to this read, be sure to share it and check out more shyness related topics below!
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