overcoming shyness

  1. hi everyone! this is my first time posting but i have been a long-time lurker....i've read so many great posts filled with advice and encouragement over the past few years. now i need some advice as well.
    after 3 years of waiting lists, pre-reqs, sleepless nights, and all the jumping through hoops, i finally made it into a respectful BSN program and am now in my 3rd year...i am so grateful to be in this program after being told that i would just have to WAIT (NJ has many schools with waiting lists) it was so bad that even micro and A&P had waiting lists! it's difficult for me but i work extremely hard to get good grades..not perfect grades, but good enough to be proud of them.
    however, when it comes to clinicals, i find that the one thing i am criticized for is lack of assertiveness. i just get really nervous and timid. it's hard for me to approach my patients and even though i go in with the best intentions, i always feel like i am going to say the wrong thing and get them upset, or say something that sounds stupid..so i tend to be on the quiet side and not as chatty as my other classmates.

    does anyone have some good advice for me on approaching patients or good ice breakers that will help? i was a very shy child... sensitive to everything! I'm 26 now so there are no more excuses! I want to come out of my shell, just need to see how others came out of theirs.
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  2. 8 Comments

  3. by   TexasPediRN
    I was famous for being shy when I was a child, as well as all throughout schooling.

    I'm shy now. For instance, I just accepted a new job and have hospital orientation this week. Its a huge group of people. I dont mingle well. I cant just strike up a conversation with someone or automatically make friends. I hate doing group activities b/c I hate speaking out loud.

    However, when I get comfortable with my surroundings and with my coworkers and with my knowledge, I'm known to be loudmouthed and voice my opinion. (note the keyword of comfortable)

    When I took my last job everyone laughed that I portrayed an image of angelic and innocent. After about 4 months they knew it was just a look and they got to know the real me.

    I may get mixed responses from this but this is what really helped me get over my shyness. We get new residents every 3 months at my old job. None of them knew the system and relied on the nurses. Half the time orders were incomplete or blatently wrong and I would have to call the dr for clarification. It sounds cruel, but I knew they were wrong and I was right so I had no problems calling. (Attending MD's were a different story!!) Its b/c I am comfortable with myself and my knowledge.

    Now, I just took a new job, so its back to my shell until I warm up to everyone and learn the system and learn the drs and become comfortable there, and then I will come out of my shell.

    Its hard, but it can be done. You will be able to do it, and you just have to be assertive. I know its hard. Clinicals and me really didnt click until probably my last year. What helped there was I worked as an aide at the hospital, and was used to pt-nurse interaction by myself. You just go in and introduce yourself, and do what you need to do. If the patient asks a question you dont know, just say "let me go look up that information for you". It doesnt matter if you dont know or not, just learn how to not let it show. If you do say the wrong thing, just laugh it off and let the pt know you are nervous. I promise, so are they! It will break the ice.

    I hope some of my rambling may have given you useful advice..!

    -Meghan
  4. by   shock-me-sane
    I am not exactly shy, but I do tend to be quiet until I feel comfortable. I very well remember my first quarter and clinicals. Painful for awhile.

    I made my patients uncomfortable by being quiet. I found the key to success in clinicals is to ACT confident even if your hands are shaking. This will put your patient at ease. They are much more likely to be scared and hesitant to talk to someone who looks like a deer in the headlights.

    Sooo, smile. Talk confidently, act confidently...because that is what the patient needs. I promise it comes, you start to believe it. And for good reason, you put a lot of work into your education and theory and clinicals start to come together. Sometimes I have glimpses of thinking I will make a good nurse. They come more often as I moved further in the program.

    Hang in there! It does get better!
  5. by   bekindtokittens
    I have always been shy. I remember my mom constantly telling me as a child, "speak up, don't mumble, make eye contact, people don't bite..."

    So I sometimes make myself speak up or start a conversation with a stranger. Often I even put a foot in my mouth which just makes the issue even worse! But when I get embarrassed and berate myself for it, I just try telling myself that it may have been uncomfortable, but it didn't kill me.

    When all else fails, I think of something another poster on this board once said about shyness. Being shy is actually about being self-centered. When I'm feeling shy, it's because I'm only focused on ME. Are people looking at ME? Will I say something stupid? Will people like ME? I'm living in my own head so much that I forget there are other people out there with their own thoughts, feelings, and insecurities. So I try and put my focus on others.

    No amount of advice or pep talk seems to take all the insecurities away though. I just started a nursing program and I feel so awkward during lunch breaks coming up to an already established group of friends and asking, "can I join you?"

    Good luck on coming out of your shell, you can do it!
    Last edit by bekindtokittens on Sep 13, '07 : Reason: spelling error
  6. by   fire_fly
    Hi I've been shy all my life. Studies have shown that shyness has a genetic/biological basis (just as many other personality traits) so don't kick yourself over it. The main thing that has helped me is practice. The more I interact w/patients, the better I get. Just keep trying and you will get better. Think of it as something to work on just like some people have problems w/math or pharmacology or psychomotor skills

    I know I'll never be the life of the party but now I can chat w/my patients and develop a relationship, it will come to you too.
  7. by   Joe NightingMale
    :yeahthat: While I admit that being shy can be a sign of being self-centered, I don't think that it's helpful to focus on that. Shy people (I am one) tend to beat themselves up enough over their shortcomings...
    Practice does help; I've had to ask family and co-workers to let me feel for their radial and brachial pulses, which makes me uncomfortable, but I've done it successfully. I've learned to be able to speak to unfamiliar people to, just like the above poster said, by practicing in various settings. With time, you learn how to introduce yourself and start a conversation
  8. by   Joe NightingMale
    Came up with two more things to consider:

    1. Being assertive isn't incompatible with being shy. You may have to work more on the former than the latter.

    2. Don't confuse shyness with introversion (a personality trait) From Wikipedia: "Introversion is "the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one's own mental life".[2] Introverts tend to be quiet, low-key, deliberate, and relatively non-engaged in social situations. They take pleasure in solitary activities such as reading, writing, drawing, watching movies, listening to music, inventing, and designing....although they may enjoy one-to-one or one-to-few interactions with close friends...Introversion is not the same as shyness, though introverts may also be shy. Introverts choose solitary over social activities by preference, whereas shy people avoid social encounters out of fear"

    Your psychology lesson for today from a very strong introvert.
    Last edit by Joe NightingMale on Sep 14, '07 : Reason: spelling
  9. by   ms_orion
    Just be yourself...don't pretend to know everything.pts relate very well to r-e-a-l people.
  10. by   locolorenzo22
    don't try to put yourself above the patient....they are a real person and talking to them goes a long way....I make jokes about my name, so they'll remember....I describe for them things I know/answers to questions I KNOW! within scope of practice....If I don't know, then that's what I tell em.
    I always treat my patients like my own family....while I'm taking care of you, I care about anything you wanna tell me.
    Just take deep breaths and relax, you'll be ok. Always advocate for your patients and remember that they depend on you....

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