Mary’s struggle with shyness came to a head during a virtual meeting about a new IT process launch. Was extra testing essential or could the process go live without it? Mary was adamant that there should be additional testing, but instead of calmly raising her concern she allowed her shyness to get the better of her. Mary uncharacteristically blurted out her objection.
Mary explains: “I needed to be the one to intervene. Terrified, my objection came out all blurty: ‘We can’t go live. We haven’t done enough testing. No!’”
The outburst was the result of Mary’s shyness masking her true, more composed personality. The team misconstrued this as disrespectful and arrogant, which was far from the truth.
“I’m not an introvert, I’m shy. Shyness has had a big impact on my life, but it’s also had a significant impact on my career.”
Shyness has characterised Mary’s life from a very young age, holding back her social development. She didn’t attend a school social event until she was 17 and admits to leaving college with “more qualifications than friends”. But she has always remained ambitious, and it was after the fallout from her virtual meeting that Mary decided something needed to change.
“There I was in my late 30s, misunderstood, not getting the help that I needed, and my career ambitions not being fulfilled.”
Asking for help was always daunting, but, steeled by her drive to succeed, Mary reached out to her colleagues. Her line manager and a trusted ex-colleague helped Mary understand that the more nervous and shy she felt, the more arrogant and unapproachable she came across. By encouraging Mary to better integrate into the Shell community, her colleagues had set her along a successful career path.