Shyness vs. Arrogance?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 27, 2007 6:44 PM GMT
    Ever notice how some guys come across as arrogant (quiet, look at you from afar, yet look away when they get closer to you), but as soon as you start talking to them, they then appear to be some of the nicest guys you have met.

    I tend to be the shy(er) type, which surprises some. The initial impression is that of arrogance...but then when you warm up to people, you just can't seem to shut up.


    Anyone have the same stigma?

    (And then there are those that are just simply arrogant..)
  • art_smass

    Posts: 960

    Jan 27, 2007 7:53 PM GMT
    I walk around my gym like I own the place, but I've been going there for sixteen years, so I feel as comfortable there as I do in my own home. I'm sure I intimidate some people, too, and I'm sure they're surprised to discover that I'm not the asshole they might think I am. In fact, I'm sure most of them are eager to say "Shut up, already!" once they've got me talking. I also hang out with a woman who is a triathlon champ and the most intimidating-looking woman at the gym. I've heard people making some ridiculous judgements about the kind of person she is. I probably don't know a warmer, more generous individual.

    People are often surprised to discover that we're not arrogant jerks. Maybe it's because we see ourselves as far-from-perfect, and that's the reason we're at the gym in the first place. Our capacity for criticism is directed inward, rather than outward. I guess you can say that self-loving and self-loathing are like peas in a pod.
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    Jan 27, 2007 10:15 PM GMT
    Im totaly the same although hardly anyone would believe it. On a recent myers Briggs test I came out at 65 on the extrovert end of the scale (normal scale is to 60). But Im very shy on one on one meetings or where I dont know anyone in a personal capacity. Funny thing is I then switch from shy to being larger than life to compensate it! I know Im doing it but try not too!.

    Funny thing is Im a trainer (environment) by trade and spend all day long speaking to strangers but the difference is they have come to see me so their is a "need" on their part and I know they want to talk to me.

    In my part it comes down to the former fatty wanting to hide into the background
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    Jan 28, 2007 2:07 AM GMT
    I always do that. I will see someone and they will see me. I have missed out on so much, because they thought I was a snob or something. But that is not it, once you get me talking I can talk for hours about anything and everything. I love being able to hold a conversation with someone. But trying to start one up is not my thing. I tend to be different on line and will e-mail and chat with anyone I think is worth my time, but in person forget about it. You have better approach me..
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    Jan 28, 2007 2:57 AM GMT
    Hi guys.... here is an observation from the other side;
    I am outgoing, gregarious and NOT shy. Often I will aproach the quiet guy sitting in the corner by himself and sometimes I talk to the arrogant looking ones as well. Generally, the shy ones are nice people once we talk and the guys I thought were arrogant ARE!
    Just be yourself and DO be nice to those not your type and that very act will help you meet the ones you do like... just be open to them and let them see you. :)
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    Jan 28, 2007 3:50 AM GMT
    Great topic! This is something that has bothered me quite a bit. Good to know I'm not alone.

    I look very unapproachable at the gym because I generally avoid eye contact, especially with the following two categories:
    - the handful of people who are there to talk talk talk talk talk
    - the few guys that I find really attractive, because then my eyes might say too much (one guy in particular I can't stop thinking about and I don't even know his name)

    Somehow I have been lucky enough to have made a few acquaintances with whom I exchange a few words every now and then. There are also a few that I nod/smile at but have never spoken with.

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    Jan 28, 2007 1:27 PM GMT
    I was very shy and insecure in my youth, and I found a way out of that through theatre and music. I conditionned myself over the years to become highly sociable and from the outside looking in, people assume that I am an extreme extrovert. However, I am the among the most savage people I know. While I mingle, I don't make friends easily - the one I have now I've had since college !, fifteen years ago - and when I go out, I have to sort of pep-talk myself before I go, much like I used to do before a performance.

    The funny thing about all this though, is that while I appear to be very outgoing while out with friends, when I am alone, I appear to be in my own world, not to be approached.
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    Jan 28, 2007 1:30 PM GMT
    I am not a phychologist but i think a bit of shyness and arrogance can be a defense mechanism--to guard against fear of the unknown (person). i have trouble approaching people in person--striking up a conversation, whether it be at the gym, bar, any public place. if i am attracted to someone, i look and try to engage in eye contact to see if there is a response and a possible mutual interest. even when there is a positive eye contact response, i am shy and i hope that the other guy will approach and say the first word. i think some people perceive me as intimidating or arrogant, but when you get to know me i am very open, direct and nice. :-)
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    Jan 28, 2007 2:22 PM GMT
    I come across in person the same way, Mike. I'm just not a big extrovert with people I don't know, so I come across as aloof or arrogant because I'm nervous/shy when first meeting someone in person.

    It's irritating but something that's hard to overcome.
  • DrStorm

    Posts: 185

    Jan 28, 2007 5:15 PM GMT
    Wow, I sat reading through these posts and I can see myself in almost all these posts. And it brought a smile to my face.

    Right up to about college, I prb was the most introverted, shyest person around - my brother the total opposite...Now, I am a typical extroverted LEO, whereas my brother is very introverted and quiet. Go figure. Anyway, not to rehash what others have said, here are some of my observations and comments:

    1] since I am totally secure with myself (well, at least I think I am), I honestly do not give a shit what people think of me since I don't fear rejection - if you don't make the effort to get to know me and realise I am not what you think I am based on appearance and your perception of me, it's YOUR loss, not mine.

    2] no matter the social event, but let's take a bar for example - on average (and stats may vary) about 80% of the guys in there are waiting to be talked to, while 20% of the guys in there actually go around and make guys, if you are waiting to be talked to, you're competing with 80% of the guys in there for attention...if you're one of the 20% of guys, you're only competing with 20% of the guys in there....

    3] we all like what we like...and usually we end up liking those who don't like us. c'est la vie. Move on.

    4] Even if ugliest guy (in your opinion) buys you a drink in a bar and he is nice and does not go below the belt, be nice back. Remember, he made the effort to chat to'd hate for some guy who you thought was hot to be rude to you when all you were trying to do was be nice.

    Guys, get out more and spend less time online! It really improves social skills and nothing beats human interaction. Remember, What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) when you're out! And remember, you don't have to think of something extraordinarily clever and witty to say to break the ice - a simple "cute" when you pass him on the way to the bathroom is all that is needed. AND a huge smile!

  • RSportsguy

    Posts: 1927

    Jan 28, 2007 6:18 PM GMT
    Great topic Mike in Toronto! I am very shy, but I open up once I know someone. I have been working on being more open when I meet people. It is so much easier for me to express myself on a message board than if I would just meet someone.
  • ArchieMike

    Posts: 13

    Jan 28, 2007 7:12 PM GMT
    I know the exact opossite of that type... The one who looks shy from afar and looks at you like he likes you... But then you realize that all he was doing was trying to get himself noticed and starts to get really cocky...
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 29, 2007 2:33 PM GMT
    Yes this is an interesting topic because we really just can't tell how others perceive us. I used to be what probably most people would have considered physically unattractive and what everyone would have agreed on as just plain fat. So, I guess I always carry that with me to some degree. It can really shock me when I get a glimpse of what some stranger may think when seeing me. I once had a guy thank me for talking to him saying that usually he gets ignored when he goes up to "a guy like" me. That was shocking to hear on both counts. It did make me wonder if other people looked at me and made assumptions that I was unfriendly or arrogant or was living some kind of fantasy that isn't my life at all. I then had to consider how many times I have and try to do that to others. I think that was another stage of growing up I've done. I'm glad for the reminder of it this morning!
  • dfrourke

    Posts: 1062

    Jan 29, 2007 6:51 PM GMT
    I have had the same comments thrust back at me call it "intimidating"..."snobby"..."arrogant"...whatever...then people actually meet me and spend 5 minutes talking with me and have to change their opinions...

    I think we are quick to judge as a society...I know I am that way at times about looks, intelligence, success, etc...sometimes it serves a purpose...other times it just gets me into trouble...and it certainly hasn't been successful for me int he relationship sense...

    How do we know what we know?

    Start there and back track...usually I really don't have very good information to make a quick bet is others don't sense is...especially in my case that when I "write someone off" quickly it is because I am not feeling entirely confident with myself or there is some "fear" there...

    - David
  • duglyduckling

    Posts: 279

    Feb 16, 2007 7:25 PM GMT
    I have often been told that I appear to be arrogant too, but in fact I am the shyest person you can meet. I really don't know how I come across as arrogant, but maybe it's because I am too shy to smile at people, so they take that as arrogance, but then when I finally smile, it's a completely different story and people tell me that I am quite friendly. LOL
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 17, 2007 7:21 PM GMT
    Yes, me too. I'm a shy person but I'm actually arrogant to a degree as well. I think self-confidence and arrogance is often confused, however.
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    Feb 27, 2007 10:17 PM GMT
    A couple of points: Introversion is not really a measure of a person's social comfort. An introvert tends to get "charged" by being alone, while an extrovert gains energy around other people. An intovert might be quiet but he's not necessarily shy.

    I worked in media for years and, while I was comfortable in social situations, it wasn't what I enjoyed most. It was a source of frustration to my employers, since there tends to be the expectation that if you're in the public eye, you must crave it and want it all the time. But there are plenty of public personalities who are introverts.

    The other thing: Most gay men I've known in and out of the consulting room tend to have some degree of body dysmorphia and social anxiety. When you grow up being told that your body's fundamental desire and your basic nature are evil or pathological, you're going to have trouble both picturing yourself and responding spontaneously to the world around you.

    Of course, that seems to be changing as gay people experience less rejection from their families. Unfortuntely, gay men themselves have created a hierarchy of bodies (from muscle boy to bear) that reinforces dysmorphia and inhibits social mobility.

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    Feb 28, 2007 9:24 PM GMT
    Good stuff, obscenewish!
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    Feb 28, 2007 10:27 PM GMT
    Hmmmm, not sure how you can on the one hand advocate "authenticity" and on the other say that our impressions upon others matter more than our internal/subjective experience of ourselves.

    Were you to take that in other directions, it would validate all sorts of things. For example, my intellect would matter less than the fact that people assume I'm stupid on the basis of my appearance (something I've experienced frequently). It would validate racial prejudice and homophobia. The question "How do I live a productive life as part of a stereotyped minority" becomes irrelevant. The answer would always be the same: You appropriate the values of the dominant culture. You act as if...You do your best to look like everyone else.

    There's some resarch that shyness is genetically predisposed. But it's also obvious that it's a result of cultural and familial values. In a society that values productivity above everything, shyness is going to be pathologized. Or, as in the case of women, shyness can be eroticized as an invitation to seize control. The shy are often femininzed, in fact.

    The misinterpretation of shyness as arrogance is also acculturated. It's an interpretation based upon cultural norms. You're not playing on the team, you're not being one of the guys, etc.

    I was interested to read that the juror who was dismissed in the LIbby trial was the same woman who refused to join the rest of the jurors wearing red t-shirts illustrated with a heart on Valentine's Day. Pundits have drawn all sorts of conclusions about her on that basis. Because she didn't play along with the T-shirt game, they theorize, she would have been contentious in deliberations. She was shy. She was arrogant. She was this, she was that.

    And of course, it may mean none of that. It may mean that, as a retired art curator, she didn't wanna wear some tacky shit in the courtroom.

    I think shyness is characterological and, unless it is accompanied by real social anxiety, is simply a way of being that most people find annoying but some of us find endearing.

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    Mar 01, 2007 12:36 AM GMT
    Outstanding topic. I think at times I can come across as arrogant or aloof. However, I am just quiet and would rather here about someone else than talk about myself. I have also been told I am a very good listener. It is a fine line we walk and how people establish first impressions. Something I need to work on ...
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    Mar 01, 2007 2:42 AM GMT
    I don't want to get in an argument about this, but a few points:

    Shyness is not simply an affective feeling state. It is also a cognitive style. There are therapeutic techniques for reducing shyness, but most clinicians agree that people whose basic orientation is shy tend to be that way throughout life, even though they can learn to behave differently with coaching.

    At the same time, shyness is often transient. Many adolescents go through a period of shyness they outgrow as they acquire social skills. Certain life traumas may inaugurate a period of shyness too.

    I have never met anyone who wasn't shy about something. Shyness is a natural state for everyone at one time or another. Grief often precipitates shyness and so does success. Many people never outgrow shyness in sexual situations.

    I think perhaps you are conflating shyness and social anxiety, which involves a lot of fear, far beyond usual shyness.

    Finally, we'll just have to agree to disagree about the extent to which the opinions/feelings of others properly define us. You're simply denying the logical extension of that by saying you're not talking about prejudice. But you can't on the one hand say people's opinions define us and then absent yourself from the logical extension of that. Shyness is not always a "choice." It is frequently a natural response, part of a person's character,no more "chosen" than sexual orientation. But this points to a different understanding of feelings between us. I do not think people have control over all their feelings.

    Who is arrogant in making a judgment of arrogance about a shy person? In your example of the way getting to know a member of a minority reduces prejudice (and I agree, as someone who used to run black-white encounter groups), why should it not be the judgmental person who makes the effort to get to know the shy person? One of the things I observed in doing encounter groups is that the prejudiced suffer in their own way. Their prejudice severely limits their experience of the world.

    My work as a therapist is mainly with creative types whom the culture famously tends to treat as crazy, shy, outside the norm. But it is just their sense of otherness that often allows artists to create. The choice to attempt to accommodate cultural values in this respect almost always results in a block or the production of mediocre work.

    So the artist may say, "Okay, according to cultural norms, I'm crazy. Do I want to be crazy and productive or do I want to be accepted as a regular joe? Does my social comfort or my artistic expression matter most?"

    As for my own experience in being perceived as stupid, no, that wasn't a choice I simply made. My mother put me in a gym when I was five and I never left. It became part of who I am, just as shyness can become part of people.

    These are not black-and-white concerns, but the penchant for turning deviations from the prescribed norm into pathology is absolutist. I would rather support people's fundamental character -- indeed, I'd rather they cultivate their eccentricity -- than subscribe to the notion that by "normalizing" themselves they will be happier. I simply do not find that to be true.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 01, 2007 2:59 AM GMT
    "Outstanding topic. I think at times I can come across as arrogant or aloof. However, I am just quiet and would rather here about someone else than talk about myself. I have also been told I am a very good listener. It is a fine line we walk and how people establish first impressions. Something I need to work on ..."

    Exactly. What we call "shyness" often just represents a different style than that of the more socially aggressive. And it contains value.

    Shyness is particularly pathologized because it isn't congruent with the (capitalistic) ethic that values productivity and competition. Other character traits, like social boorishness (see Donald Trump), are not similarly pathologized because they reinforce the culture's values.
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    Mar 01, 2007 4:41 AM GMT
    Like I said, I'm not interested in an argument. My impression is that you privilege not being shy and you seem to blame the shy person for the perception of himself as arrogant. And you seem to say that it's up to the shy person to change his behavior to convince the judger that he's not arrogant. If I misunderstand you, I'm sorry.

    I'd rather help the shy person find value in his character as it is and help him appreciate his difference. Usually when people learn to appreciate the virtue of their difference, social comfort is no longer an oppressive issue.

    As for my allusions to bias of the dominant culture, I think it's a mistake to consider personal style without considering the larger context. Thus, I'm saying that there is a reason people make the judgement (of arrogance) and it has a relative cultural basis, not a foundation in some absolute truth.

    Obviously, what is considered normal, socially acceptable behavior here might be considered boorish in Japan, while the behavior of women in Turkey might be considered unduly shy here. The way norms are established is complex and there is significant deviation within subcultures of a general culture. It's not simply a matter of universal agreement that it's best not to be shy because it's best to be "connected" to people in an "authentic" way.

    If a person feels he is seriously inhibited by his shyness, he can, as you suggest, learn some behavioral techniques that make him more comfortable situationally. This will likely not change his basic character, however. And, as I said, I would like to see people make an effort to appreciate what is of value in shy personalities, rather than insisting they change, because they are supposedly missing out on something, a myth I root in the economic model of our culture, but you are free to disregard.

    Social anxiety, which truly immobilizes people, is a different thing altogether.

    Dat's all I've got to say.

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    Mar 01, 2007 5:55 AM GMT
    Mkay, but just to be clear, this is the statement you made that triggered my response: "In fact, aloofness and shyness are a form of arrogance..."

    I just find that insupportable as a generalization.
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    Mar 01, 2007 1:05 PM GMT
    On the theme of shyness.

    I agree with mikeintoronto, it can be a problem for some, as people can see shyness as being arrogance, or even snobbishness.

    I have suffered from shyness for most of my life and although now getting on a bit, still have problems in situations like parties, where I have to meet new people.

    I have a close friend who is also shy. Unlike me, he is incredibly handsome and buff. Other people on first meeting him assume he is up his own a**e - this is not the case.

    So whilst I agree with nnjfitandbi about things like bigotry. I can't help but feel he doesn't understand how it is to be a shy person and that it isn't just a case of taking control and becoming more confident. These things are very difficult for a shy person. Shyness has no real foundation, it just seems to me that some people are and some people aren't.

    Final message to mikeintoronto is not to sweat it too much. The Shyness you feel is part of your personality and I'm sure has got you many more friends than you have lost. Surely it is better to be modest that the sort that forces themselves on everyone?