Introverts should try to be more sociable

PSYCHOLOGY: Caught up in shyness

PSYCHOLOGY: Caught up in shyness

Quiet people have a hard time in our extroverted society. Some are prone to withdrawal and depression. But shy and introverts can also shine - without pretending to be.

Melissa Müller

Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman, Beyoncé, Albert Einstein: It is often the great artists and scientists who describe themselves as shy, even though they are in the limelight. Many were reticent even as children. The American Susan Cain, author of the non-fiction book “Still und stark”, also quarreled with this. She remembers a school camp, back then a horror experience for the quiet girl. The motto was "Rowdy", all the children roared around wildly. Susan joined in, but felt exhausted afterwards - and secretly looked forward to quiet reading hours. At school, too, she tried hard “to play the sociable version of myself because I thought I had to be like that: lively, cool, loud”.

Susan Cain used to think something was wrong with her. Today she knows: about half of all people are introverted. The author encourages children and adolescents: “No matter which way you lean, it's okay. The key to a comfortable life is knowing your own preferences. " It's about self-acceptance. Because it makes no sense to want to re-educate yourself to be a frequent talker or party animal. Susan Cain has freed herself from this pressure. Today she confesses to her quiet manner and even gives lectures on the subject in front of thousands of spectators.

Introverts struggle with their calm demeanor

Susan Cain describes herself as shy and introverted. But these are two different things. Shyness is the fear that other people won't like you. Such a fear can develop after experiencing a lot of criticism or rejection. Introversion, on the other hand, is a question of temperament. While extroverts prefer to be around people, introverts become saturated with relationships more quickly. They would rather have two or three deep friendships than many loose acquaintances. «Intros» need retreat. You can relax by spending an evening alone on the couch. Many quickly feel like weirdos, because sociability and sociability have the highest priority in our society. And also most schools and workplaces are geared towards extroverts. Occupational psychologist Marlen Bolliger is familiar with the subject. She conducts advanced training for managers. In personality tests that provide information about whether someone is introverted or extroverted, the introverts are often disappointed with the result. In business life, a perfect facade counts. "A team made up of alpha animals is problematic here," says Bolliger. It also needs the thoughtful, more cautious people who worry. "Sensitive people with whom you can have interesting conversations." Introverts could also learn to expose themselves. "You can train it like muscles in fitness."

When shy people develop social phobia

Introverts, who are also shy, perceive their calm manner as a flaw, for example when they cannot utter a sentence while flirting or when they would like to sink into the ground during small talk. Some resort to alcohol to dispel discomfort in social situations. Psychologists recommend that you come up with a few standard sentences to get the conversation going.

Loneliness, dissatisfaction and depressive moods can result when shy people hide away or develop a social phobia. A young man, advised by psychologist Marlen Bolliger, suffers from this. He has few colleagues and is lost in gloomy thoughts. The 20-year-old often feels so tired and listless that he can barely get out of bed. "We have to do everything we can to ensure that he can pull himself up and keep his job," says Marlen Bolliger. "A job gives you stability and daily contacts."

Anyone who believes: "I am not lovable - and I cannot trust the others either" withdraws even more. "Avoidance behavior reinforces negative beliefs," says Jana Nikitin, assistant professor for developmental and personality psychology at the University of Basel. «Shy people want social connection. In doing so, they want to avoid being rejected. And prefer to stay in the background. " The fear of rejection leads to shy people assessing situations differently. If the other person looks bored, the shy one refers to himself and thinks: "I'm bored, that's why he looks like that." Another would think: "He slept badly." It can help to make oneself aware that situations can also be interpreted differently and not everything should relate to oneself, says Nikitin.

If you constantly think about what others might think of you, you are biased - and send out unclear messages. Shy smile, embarrassed, they keep apologizing, talk through the flower or mumble something. "It is better to make clear announcements," says Jana Nikitin. And it pays to overcome the fear of rejection. Because we often picture a situation in the darkest of colors. "If we dare, it is often not that bad." The German psychotherapist Doris Wolf has written a book about rejection. "Not even Jesus was loved by everyone," she says to her clients. Anyone who repeatedly experiences rejection, at work or in love, should try to get honest feedback from a trustworthy person.

The older, the less shy

"Shyness disappears as you get older, because asserting yourself in front of others is no longer so important," says assistant professor Jana Nikitin. And a little restraint and instinct doesn't hurt anyone. “People who lack shyness can be a hassle. Those are those who call ten times and don't notice that they're annoying. " So it's better to be a bit shy than a trample.

However, parents of shy children are often at a loss when their little ones are neglected everywhere. Shy children, however, are more likely to have loyal friendships, writes Susan Cain. They are conscientious, empathetic, creative and can listen well. The right prerequisites to become a little Einstein or a movie star.