Shyness: Zimbardo

The Shyness factor Zimbardo:

The Root of Speech Anxiety is Shyness.
Philip G. Zimbardo, the well-known cognitive psychologist, has devoted decades to the study of the "shyness factor" as it affects people of different ages, backgrounds, businesses, and cultures. He found that shyness figures in everyone's life. Most people admitted to him that when under pressure they experience symptoms of anxiety: the jitters, sweaty palms, knocking knees, facial flushes, watery eyes, leathery tongue, dry mouth, wild heartbeats, shortness of breath, memory lapses, mental confusions, high anxiety limit the list to one dozen symptoms of chronic shyness.

Zimbardo found that there are differences in the ways that shyness is handled by peoples of different countries and cultures. Such differences may account for variations in reporting levels of shyness and presumably in experiencing high or low levels. For instance, people he interviewed in Japan admitted to experiencing a greater degree of shyness when meeting with strangers than did people he interviewed in Israel. But across the board he found that everyone owned up to some degree of shyness, some people to an alarmingly high degree, even when being interviewed by Dr. Zimbardo! Shyness is thus a characteristic of human nature brought about by our physiology, neurology, psychology, and social conditioning.

No one should feel that nature has singled him or her out for a special affliction. No one should feel freakish because he or she panics when faced with the need to present in public. It is human to feel some anxiety. Some people experience more of it, some less. Successful speakers are men and women who have found ways to find relief from these sensations and emotions. They have found ways to make them "work" for them.

Execerpt from article by John Robert Colombo

George Torok
Executive Speech Coach

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