I’m naturally shy. (This will come as a shock to some of you.) When I meet a new person, I can get a bit tongue-tied. I may even come off as standoffish. My youngest even comments that I’m not super friendly with the people at Taco Bell. (Really? I am perfectly pleasant. Do I have to chat up the fast food lady?) My shyness has largely been overcome by channeling my inner warmth (there’s lots of that, I promise) and forcing myself to engage. But my shy side is still there, ready to duck interaction when I’m not being vigilant.

Like when I went to a conference recently. Those stand-up receptions designed to get people mingling are my nightmare. I wish I’d read this article by Meridith Levinson sooner! I would have had a better plan for the dreaded networking aspects, that’s for sure.

I’ve nailed the smiling, “Hi, what do you do?” part. Where I need help is on reading the other person to see where they want to take the conversation. In addition, I should have practiced some open-ended questions. Even better, I would have taken Levinson’s advice to use the other person’s name a few times in conversation. I’d make them feel great AND remember their name later when I follow up!

One of the gifts of shyness is compassion for the many others in the world who are reserved. They too have amazing perspectives and brilliance to share. “Deep rivers run quiet.” (Haruki Murakami).


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Photo by Lili Vieria de Carvalho on Flickr,