Very shy people can have jobs

SZ.de: Ms. Hake, you write that you used to be shy yourself. How was that expressed?

Susanne Hake: When I was supposed to talk about myself, I was incredibly embarrassed and excited. Sometimes I felt downright isolated. At some point I noticed that this shyness costs me a lot of energy; Energy that I could have used much more meaningfully to move forward and to stand up for what I had achieved.

Has your shyness prevented you from advancing professionally?

In any case. Not only did I miss a lot of opportunities, I also didn't see opportunities at all because I was thinking far too small. And I didn't follow many impulses out of fear.

What was the first step towards change for you?

I can't fix that in a single situation. But what I can say about this desire for change: The need was simply great enough. I was at a point where I wanted to go the awkward path where I wanted to deal with my strengths and weaknesses. Everyone who is ready must be aware that this will not be a wellness vacation. Changing habitual behaviors is always terribly uncomfortable at first. Especially at work, especially at an advanced age.

What is your advice to people who want to take this uncomfortable path?

Compile your certificates, your additional qualifications, including those from the leisure sector, and get an overview of what you have already achieved. And think about the situation in which you did an especially good job. Recognizing and recognizing your own achievements is a very important step in getting rid of shyness. However, self-reflection is only the first step if you want to develop yourself further.

And the second?

To develop my own vision and then, on the way to the goals, also knowingly put myself into situations that I already know beforehand: I feel uncomfortable! If you are shy, you have to start talking to others and also to talk about yourself in front of people, emphasizing your own achievements.

In your book, you recommend that people who want to overcome their shyness find a mentor. How is that supposed to work?

Basically you can of course also do it on your own, that depends on the individual willpower. But my experience is: It's a lot easier with a partner. This can be a colleague or someone from your private sphere. Especially before you venture into the aforementioned unpleasant situations, it helps a lot if you have played them through with a mentor beforehand. Have tried out new things with someone, so to speak, in front of whom you need not be embarrassed if not every word and every gesture is right.