Shyness and Society: The Illusion of Competence by Susie Scott

By Susie Scott

Utilizing Symbolic Interactionist theories and outlines of the typical lifetime of self-defined 'shy' humans, the ebook explores the social techniques of turning into a 'shy individual' and acting the shy self in public locations. The query of interactional competence is mentioned in terms of problems with identification, embodiment, performativity and deviance.

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Symbolic Interactionist theories of the self (Goffman 1959; Becker 1963; Strauss 1978) emphasise the agency of individuals as social actors, who draw upon their background knowledge of cultural norms and values to decide upon courses of action. The idea of role-making, as opposed to more passive role-taking, is central to this view of the self as skilled and knowledgeable, insofar as it suggests that individuals perform their identities consciously and strategically, in relation to others (McCall & Simmons 1966).

This means that shame, too, can induce blushing, because it involves a shift in perspective to that of the 'Other', creating a self-conscious awareness of one's private information being exposed to public scrutiny (Crozier 2003). With these ideas in mind, we could say that shyness involves a fear of shame, as well as of embarrassment: it is not only that the shy actors dread making a fool of themselves in a public performance, but also that they anticipate the consequences of this, namely social rejection and humiliation.

Meanwhile, 'Career Coach' Pamela Kleibrink Thompson (2006) focuses on the way in which shyness can hold us back in job interviews and prevent prospective employers from seeing our true potential; she urges readers to assertively emphasise their skills and accomplishments rather than wait to be probed for information: 'You have to promote yourself to land the job ... It may feel like bragging to you, but the interview is the time to toot your own horn'. (2006, p. 2). Similarly, P. Gregory Smith (2006) provides some advice for 'getting past shyness' when attending a job interview: slhe suggests networking and establishing prior connections with members of the interview panel, acting as if one is not shy, and talking about one's good points.

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