Can you remember a situation where you encountered someone who appeared to be a narcissist? Think about this! Maybe you know this person only from a distance. They hang out in the periphery of your circle of friends. You’ve seen them a couple of times and you’re not exactly fond of their body language and overall persona because they seem, quite frankly, full of themselves.
Before you get to know this person, actually sit down and have a conversation, what cues led you to believe they’re self-absorbed, narcissistic, not very approachable, unkind, or that they just don’t like you?
- No eye contact with other people.
- Facial expression isn’t warm and inviting.
- Ignore new people.
- Not interested in people they don’t already know.
- Boast about their own accomplishments or share things that they’ve done when nobody else has asked for it.
There’s almost an air of superiority going on. You feel like they’re being very judgmental, unapproachable, and bottom line: They’re not very likable.
Well, did someone come to mind?
It helps if you can really picture a scenario where you assumed that of someone. And then when you got to know this person, you realized your impression wasn’t true at all. But, initially, that’s what you thought of them because of what you’re seeing, the message, the vibe they’re giving off.
Now, what are the qualities of someone who might label themselves as shy or insecure or uncomfortable in social settings?
If you consider the body language, again, you’re going to see…
- Rarely make eye contact with other people.
- Facial expression can convey they’re disinterested or sullen.
- Seem to ignore new people.
- Only really speak or interact if they see someone who they know.
- Very intentionally give off an energy that says, “I’m busy over here doing this or doing that.”
They might also give off this air of superiority. Ironically, though, it’s not stemming from a place of superiority. But, rather, a feeling of inferiority.
At this point, you know where I’m going with this!
All of these “shy” body language examples are almost identical to the qualities that we labeled as narcissism.
We don’t know what’s going in anyone’s head, but we make assumptions based on their body language.
We assume that they’re not making eye contact with us because they don’t find us interesting. We assume that they’re not talking to us because they think they’re better than us.
We don’t assume that most adults are really shy and awkward in social situations.
We just assume that we aren’t good enough or that they don’t like us. Or that, for whatever reason, we’re not interesting enough for them to engage in conversation.
Do you want people to think that you’re judging them or that you think you’re better than them? You know that’s not what’s going on in your head. But that’s how it’s interpreted. It’s just human nature. It makes people feel uncomfortable.
When you call yourself an insecure / shy person, that’s what you are. It’s self-fulfilling. And now we know that insecure / shy people make other people feel uncomfortable. You might as well freakin’ label yourself as someone who makes other people feel like they don’t matter, like they’re not valued, like they’re not important. And I know you that’s not your intention.
LISTEN UP: From this point forward, I refuse to allow you to label yourself as shy. You can call yourself formerly shy. You can say, “I am working on being a more secure, confident person.”
We have an obligation to improve ourselves so that we can better serve others. We are called to serve others. And by improving ourselves, we improve the world.
So, do it! In the comments, if you are someone who, now formerly, identified as shy… speak up and give us your new label. Yes!