Thursday, July 26, 2007

Shyness Can Be Cured

I was driving somewhere yesterday and had the car radio on with a phone in talk show thing going on that caught my ear so to speak. Apparently one of the big multinational drug companies, as opposed to one of the small multinational ones, has made a drug which it plans to bring to market that can "cure" shyness.

I can't verify the accuracy of the statement that a drug company is planning to do this, but it's not relevant really. What's relevant is that the radio show had a lively and stimulating debate going on about shyness and whether it's something that need to be "cured" or an intrinsic quality in some people that just exists, like being hung like a horse or a mosquito.

The presenter of the show, Vanessa Feltz, was making the point that shyness used to be looked at as just a quality in some people. She mentioned that it was also looked at as a peculiarly English characteristic, the whole shy and reserved girl persona, which made me think of Princess Diana when she was Lady Diana. The days when she was 19 and shy and coy, prior to being married and everyone thought she was the typical English rose.

These days it seems that shyness is a bit like a birth mark in a mildly embarrassing place, like Wales. You can have it taken care of and get on with your life. People were ringing in to the show with all sorts of differing opinions. One chap said that shyness is a definite negative in commerce and business, that one needs to be more outgoing and brash for a work environment.

I agree, I can't imagine there are many who would disagree, unless you're the president of the shyness council and you have a strict policy of promoting from within. Most successful business people appear outgoing and confident rather than shy and demure. Does shyness in itself denote a lack of confidence or is there more to it than that?

But success in business isn't the be all and end all, it's not the ultimate goal for many, me included. One of the things I feel very lucky about is that I have exposure to a variety of business people through my work but I also mix with many musicians and arty types through music. I've met business coves who frown and look down on academics and arty folk, I've met arty folk who mock business types and I've met others who are far more accepting of all. There are many musicians who are aggressive and confident looking whilst playing on stage yet shy as a little sparrow the second they come off stage.

A musician friend of mine is an outgoing, successful and confident fellow in his everyday existence yet painfully lacking in confidence as soon as he gets on stage. He's a great musician too, just a bag of nerves on stage.

This shyness question is opaque, there's no definitive answer, there's not even a definitive question. But, surely shyness is merely a characteristic of a person. If a shy person feels that it's a problem then perhaps they should have the opportunity to change that. I wouldn't want to live in a society full of clones. The big shoes, the shiny red noses, orange hair, I find them all a touch too scary. No wait, that's clowns.

Clones, that's what they have in the US. Brash and arrogant and exuding a false sense of confidence everywhere they go. All back slapping and hand shaking and calling people buddy. That's what happens. Somewhere in between the shy, demure and timid person and the brash, arrogant, loud and lewd person is the ideal individual, the person with true character and a sense of identity.

If only we could clone them we'd be laughing.


Anonymous said...

I am shy rhythmic.. but i dont think a pill will do it for me.. any ideas?

Java Jones said...

RD - are you sure they are not trying to legalize Ecstasy?

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

anonymous - I believe you are an imposter. See me in my office on at the weekend. The real sarongtroubleshooter isn't shy.

JJ - It's an idea!