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Shy scientist needs some suggestions

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Shy scientist needs some suggestions

Postby Dave Jensen » Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:21 pm

I was cruising the web when I saw something posted on a newsgroup that was set up years ago to help people with questions about science careers. It is from a young scientist who is obviously having some trouble fitting into the lab. Believe it or not, one of the "answers" that this person got there was "go put a bullet in your shy brain."

Not only do I think that is NOT funny, I think it is potentially very damaging to the person who posted this message. I'll repost it below (and I sent an email to this person to come here for better advice). If any of you are shy, won't you please help with some comments?

Original post: "I am a shy person and thus do not talk a lot at work. Since I don't talk much, most of employees keep me out of the loop. I feel like my co-workers hate me. I even feel like one thinks I am competing with her. I have no intention of competing with anyone and I want to have friends. Having no confidence and having co-workers "hate" me has made my job very difficult. Does anyone have any ideas?"

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Shy scientist needs some suggestions

Postby Val » Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:55 pm

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Shy scientist needs some suggestions

Postby Dave Jensen » Tue Oct 25, 2005 8:22 pm

Val asks, "Were there any other interesting replies at that forum ?"

Yes, one was to post to "alt.support, or alt.angst" which I would guess are some kind of usenet forums. The same poster couldn't resist, and suggested "Have you considered alcohol?" as well.

I got raked over the coals there for re-posting this, but I didn't feel any gray area or ethical issue at all, since this was an anonymous post. Hopefully, the original poster will come by now and get some serious advice from our frequent posters.

Can you imagine . . . a scientific "advice" site telling someone who's obviously hurting to put a gun to their head?

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Shy scientist needs some suggestions

Postby Dave Jensen » Tue Oct 25, 2005 8:35 pm

Here are some resources that have been published on Science's NextWave that deal with the "shy scientist" problem:

When You Are Shy, All the World's A Stage, by Irene Levine - This is an excellent first person article about the same kind of problem that the original poster describes.

Out of the Shadows: A Primer for Quiet Scientists - this was published in my Tooling Up series.

There is also some excellent material available on the web, through the resources of the NIH which may assist the original poster or anyone else with a shyness problem:

Social Phobia Page and Resources

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Shy scientist needs some suggestions

Postby Val » Tue Oct 25, 2005 10:43 pm

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Shy scientist needs some suggestions

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Oct 26, 2005 12:07 am

Val, I saw other questions by this person about career directions, one of them included accounting. Still, he or she posted the original on a scientific careers newsgroup. No matter how confused they are about choice of career direction, they don't deserve a bullet in the brain.

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Shy troll needs some suggestions

Postby P.C. » Wed Oct 26, 2005 2:20 am


The way I read the posts is that the original post was that it was a put on, yet another internet troll. The comments are not to be taken so seriously. The response was an obviously absurd response in keeping with the absurd original post.
The other so called advice forum has degenerated from its original goals of a few years ago. It cannot be taken seriously anymore, and seems to keep going because there is no mechanism to shut it down.
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education" - Mark Twain
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Shy scientist needs some suggestions

Postby Kelly » Wed Oct 26, 2005 1:36 pm

Truth be told....I am actually quite shy by nature. I have found the secret though: my intrinsic shyness is offset and in many ways surpassed by my desire to help people, to be supportive of others. So I first started by pushing myself to act when I saw situations where I could be of help to someone else (e.g., a situation about them not about me). I would say to myself, go on, get in there, you have something of comfort to say or something of value to offer this person. Do it. I discovered I was pretty good at it and it gave me the confidence to begin to reach out in other situations.

I think people are shy because they may fear rejection. So start by offering yourself in situations where you are unlikely to be rejected: ask can I help you?
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Shy scientist needs some suggestions

Postby K Seth » Wed Oct 26, 2005 2:19 pm

I always have similar shyness situation. For that I was interpreted multiple times as non-assertive. I many times asked questions here about my poor networking ability, and phonaphobia.

But Kelly is right. Somehow, I always extended myself helping others- that is always a good feeling and what goes around comes around- eventually many coworkers become my friends.

Here is one question though!! I could not network/ reach well my upper managers, as much I could help and reach out my peers and someone one step juniors etc.
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Shy scientist needs some suggestions

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Oct 26, 2005 6:02 pm

Kelly,

I think your approach is great. I hadn't thought of that, but in reality I think I have sometimes practiced it. I suffer from a bit of "social phobia" myself, and often when I am about to deliver a workshop or seminar, there will be a social event and I am sometimes a bit uncomfortable. But then I remember that I am there to provide something of value, some help for job seekers, and my feeling goes away. I think you are right. If you focus on what you can do for the others, there is less internal pressure on you. Thanks Kelly.

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