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Open Right

Sian Prior: Why am I shy? The Causes, Consequences and Control of Social Anxiety for Adults and Community Groups

Session Info:

At least 40% of us would call ourselves shy; shyness is an inherited temperament trait that often causes real emotional distress for its sufferers. Shyness manifests as social anxiety and, at its worst, social phobia. It is different to introversion, though the two are often confused. We live in a culture in which confident, performative, extroverted behaviour is considered the norm, but many of us have difficulty living up to that image (or illusion?) of social competence, both in our social lives and our workplaces.

In spite of having had several different careers in the public eye, including as a radio presenter, a model and a musician, I have suffered from shyness all my life. In an effort to get on top of it I wrote a memoir called ‘Shy’ (Text Publishing) in which I investigated the causes and costs of this distressing temperament trait, and revealed my own strategies for dealing with it. I am passionate about educating my audience about the impact of social anxiety on individuals and the broader culture, and about how to overcome its distressing symptoms.

My aim is to inspire shy people to feel less stricken by and ashamed of their shyness, to educate the non-shy about how it feels to be socially anxious, and to help shy people find ways to enjoy fulfilling social and professional lives. As Morrissey from The Smiths sings, ‘Shyness is nice’.


  • What IS shyness/social anxiety?
  • How does shyness/social anxiety feel?
  • What are the costs of shyness/social anxiety?
  • How ‘Professional Sian’ saved ‘Shy Sian’, and how together they’ve tried to save the world.
  • How writing a book about shyness helped me to come to terms with it.
  • What I have learned about myself and about shyness in the process.

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