The late author Isaac Bashevis Singer once wrote, “I don’t think that people should get over being shy. It is a blessing in disguise. The shy person is the opposite of the aggressive person. Shy people are rarely the great sinners. They allow society to remain in peace.”
But is shyness confused with arogance? Sometimes. In fact, shy people are frequently misunderstood.
Philip G. Zimbardo, one of the leading authorities on shyness, who surveyed nearly 5000 people over a period of four years, concluded “”Shy people are typically not liked by as many people as they like, or want to like them, but, in fact, are often liked by very few.”
One of the reasons for this is shyness confused with arogance, aloofness or unfriendliness. Even if some people may not see the shy person as arrogant they may simply find a shy person uninteresting. But confusing shyness with unfriendliness is one of the most common problems.
While people may often see shy people as aloof or distant, shy people often fervently want to be well-liked. They may even be more concerned about being well-liked than extroverts, since the goal is more difficult for them to achieve and therefore more tantalizing.
One problem is that shy people’s anxiety keeps them from reaching out to as many people as they should. In a sense, popularity is a numbers game. The more people you strike up a conversation with, the greater your chances of making friends.
Further insight into people’s reactions to shy people comes from a letter to an advice columnist. “…all my life, I’ve been told, ‘You’re so shy,'” The letter complained. “And then I get that embarrassing question, ‘Why are you so quiet?'” Most every shy person can relate a similar experience.
“You never hear anyone say to a stranger, ‘You’re so loud.’ Why do people treat silence as if it were a fatal flaw or something that needs to be ‘fixed?'” Perhaps it’s another case of shyness confused with arogance?