Breaking out of the Shell

By: Malarie Barineau

Have you ever been to an event when you were not accompanied by another colleague, friend or acquaintance? Did this make you feel nervous, timid, or just plain uncomfortable? If so, you could be an introvert.

On the “Psychology Today” website there is an article focused on the two major personality types: extroverts and introverts. It states that “Researchers estimate extroverts make up 50 – 74 percent of the population. These “social butterflies” thrive under social stimulation.”

1I feel I could be classified as a low extrovert, as I like events and fast pasted atmospheres but I struggle in a room where I do not know anyone. But, working a conference and actually being an attendee at an event are two different things for me. When I work an event, I am very outgoing and talkative; but, when I attend an event I am reserved and quiet.

Recently, I attended a work event where I was an attendee, not staff. I felt uncomfortable, as I did not recognize anyone in attendance. There were attendees that weren’t sitting by colleagues or friends. Some attendees were by themselves and away from the group as well. I decided I needed to break out of my shell and go mingle or at least meet a few new people as I would be in attendance for another two hours.

Before I got up, I contemplated the following thoughts: who can I go up to, who else looks like they may want to talk, is there anyone else by themselves?

After about 5 minutes, I told myself to stop being shy, you can do this! I spoke to one woman for around 5 minutes and then moved on to find someone else to interact with. Once I met 2 or 3 people, this became easier for me. I just needed to break the shell or boundary to get out of my comfort zone.

Do you ever feel like this? If so, here are a few tips I used to help me break out of my shell:

  1. Overcome Fear: This is the first step to breaking out of your shell. Fear is what holds you back- once you let this go, its smooth sailing from here. J Like Nike says, “Just do it!” or as Elsa says “Let it go”
  2. Have Confidence: This is the key to being able to go up to someone you don’t know and start a conversation without feeling uncomfortable, uneasy or timid. It is the ability or belief to succeed. One thing that might help boost this when you start a conversation with someone 2is to ask open ended instead of yes/no questions. This way the individual is more likely to expand on a thought and it gives you the ability to add to the conversation.
  3. Approachable and Smile: If you approach someone with a smile and a positive vibe, the other individual isn’t going to ignore you or turn around and walk away; they are going to want to engage with you and get to know you!

I hope these 3 tips help you the next time you’re in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable or that is hard to break out of your shell. If you have other suggestions or tips, please share them as we are all continuing to improve!


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