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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, August 18, 2022
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Coach Paradise: Breaking the Ice

Dear Coach Paradise,
I am a businesswoman and I have been successful in starting and running several businesses throughout my life. I am currently trying to build a new business after a move across the country. Thanks to the Internet and the phone I still have previous contacts and colleagues, but am eager to develop new leads, opportunities and people to work with.
My problem is that I am a shy person. I am not shy one on one; in fact, I can be pretty chatty and engaging in a one-on-one conversation. But at a gathering or networking event, I am a wallflower. I get my Perrier or glass of wine and stand there as if in a bubble watching other people confidently introduce themselves, exchange business cards and make lunch dates.
When I feel really awkward, I might sit at a table and end of striking up a conversation with someone who had the same idea. I am frustrated and don’t know what to do. I have tried to overcome my shyness in the past, but it hasn’t worked. I am determined to make this business work and to make the connections I need, but do I need Emily Post or Toastmasters or a coach to do it? Is there any hope for me after all these years — I’m no spring chicken!
Signed,
Still Bashful after all these years,
Dear Bashful,
While being a Bashful Business Woman might strike some as an oxymoron, I think it has panache and presents some intriguing challenges and opportunities. You are clearly an interesting and multi-faceted woman if — despite your life-long reticence — you have managed to create and dismantle multiple business ventures. Your shyness is situational — i.e. comes out in large gatherings where the pressure is on to show up in a big and confident way to strangers.
You are definitely not alone here, and it might be a good idea to have a table at the next gathering you go to that has a sign in big letters saying “Shy Table” — you could be the welcoming committee. By drawing people to your table, you could avoid the very thing that seems to make you nervous — approaching others.
Which leads me to the following story: I had client with a very similar problem. She was smart as a whip, savvy, a wheeler-dealer and a very knowledgeable, fascinating woman. She also suffered from wall-floweritis in big groups. She said that she had spent a lifetime trying to “fix” herself — i.e. to become more outgoing and comfortable walking up to people, introducing herself, handing out cards, etc. It never really took. So … she had a brilliant insight which I think might be the solution to your problem, too: She said that she finally realized that rather than changing herself (hadn’t worked so far) it would be easier to change the matrix. Rather than remaining attached to the idea that she should approach others, she decided that others would approach her!
She shared what had worked. She decided to focus on the result that she wanted: to have productive conversations with people. She went to events that used to make her uncomfortable and turned them into a playground of sorts. Before she walked into the room, she pictured the perfect people approaching and talking to her. Upon entering the room, she would look around and pick out someone who looked interesting. She would imagine that person coming over to talk to her. She was amazed at the success she started to experience. It didn’t always work, but more often than not, if she focused on what she wanted and relaxed, it happened. Her shyness was replaced by delight, and conversation was easy and flowed smoothly.
I asked how she felt when she imagined people coming up to her and she said, “Great!” If the thought of someone approaching had made her (or makes you) have sweaty palms and a flight reaction — there is other work to be done. If, however, you too can picture schmoozing happily with people who have come up to you and saved you the predatory, awkward intro dance, you could be home free.
It may sound hokey, but don’t knock it until you try it. It works in many of life’s arenas on a scale of big (consequential) to not so life or death. I have a friend who claims to have Divine Parking. She swears that when she goes anywhere, including downtown St. Thomas, she always knows that she will come across the perfect parking place. She never doubts this, even for a minute, and (just like the perfect person approaching the bashful business woman) she rounds a corner and slides into the spot that has been waiting for her.
To your outrageous success,
Coach Paradise
Editor's note: Coach Paradise (AKA Anne Nayer), Professional Life Coach, is a member of the International Coaching Federation, an MSW clinical social worker-psychotherapist and a medical case manager with 30 years experience working with people of all shapes, sizes and challenges.
For further information about her services, call 774-4355 or email her.

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Dear Coach Paradise,
I am a businesswoman and I have been successful in starting and running several businesses throughout my life. I am currently trying to build a new business after a move across the country. Thanks to the Internet and the phone I still have previous contacts and colleagues, but am eager to develop new leads, opportunities and people to work with.
My problem is that I am a shy person. I am not shy one on one; in fact, I can be pretty chatty and engaging in a one-on-one conversation. But at a gathering or networking event, I am a wallflower. I get my Perrier or glass of wine and stand there as if in a bubble watching other people confidently introduce themselves, exchange business cards and make lunch dates.
When I feel really awkward, I might sit at a table and end of striking up a conversation with someone who had the same idea. I am frustrated and don’t know what to do. I have tried to overcome my shyness in the past, but it hasn’t worked. I am determined to make this business work and to make the connections I need, but do I need Emily Post or Toastmasters or a coach to do it? Is there any hope for me after all these years -- I’m no spring chicken!
Signed,
Still Bashful after all these years,
Dear Bashful,
While being a Bashful Business Woman might strike some as an oxymoron, I think it has panache and presents some intriguing challenges and opportunities. You are clearly an interesting and multi-faceted woman if -- despite your life-long reticence -- you have managed to create and dismantle multiple business ventures. Your shyness is situational -- i.e. comes out in large gatherings where the pressure is on to show up in a big and confident way to strangers.
You are definitely not alone here, and it might be a good idea to have a table at the next gathering you go to that has a sign in big letters saying “Shy Table” -- you could be the welcoming committee. By drawing people to your table, you could avoid the very thing that seems to make you nervous -- approaching others.
Which leads me to the following story: I had client with a very similar problem. She was smart as a whip, savvy, a wheeler-dealer and a very knowledgeable, fascinating woman. She also suffered from wall-floweritis in big groups. She said that she had spent a lifetime trying to “fix” herself -- i.e. to become more outgoing and comfortable walking up to people, introducing herself, handing out cards, etc. It never really took. So ... she had a brilliant insight which I think might be the solution to your problem, too: She said that she finally realized that rather than changing herself (hadn’t worked so far) it would be easier to change the matrix. Rather than remaining attached to the idea that she should approach others, she decided that others would approach her!
She shared what had worked. She decided to focus on the result that she wanted: to have productive conversations with people. She went to events that used to make her uncomfortable and turned them into a playground of sorts. Before she walked into the room, she pictured the perfect people approaching and talking to her. Upon entering the room, she would look around and pick out someone who looked interesting. She would imagine that person coming over to talk to her. She was amazed at the success she started to experience. It didn’t always work, but more often than not, if she focused on what she wanted and relaxed, it happened. Her shyness was replaced by delight, and conversation was easy and flowed smoothly.
I asked how she felt when she imagined people coming up to her and she said, “Great!” If the thought of someone approaching had made her (or makes you) have sweaty palms and a flight reaction -- there is other work to be done. If, however, you too can picture schmoozing happily with people who have come up to you and saved you the predatory, awkward intro dance, you could be home free.
It may sound hokey, but don’t knock it until you try it. It works in many of life’s arenas on a scale of big (consequential) to not so life or death. I have a friend who claims to have Divine Parking. She swears that when she goes anywhere, including downtown St. Thomas, she always knows that she will come across the perfect parking place. She never doubts this, even for a minute, and (just like the perfect person approaching the bashful business woman) she rounds a corner and slides into the spot that has been waiting for her.
To your outrageous success,
Coach Paradise
Editor's note: Coach Paradise (AKA Anne Nayer), Professional Life Coach, is a member of the International Coaching Federation, an MSW clinical social worker-psychotherapist and a medical case manager with 30 years experience working with people of all shapes, sizes and challenges.
For further information about her services, call 774-4355 or email her.