Charismatic resident adviser offers tips to conquer shyness

People person

For Zack Manor, being a resident adviser in Bowling Green State University’s Offenhauer residence hall requires a lot of people skills.

He can excel at his numerous administrative tasks, but his ability to connect with his residents makes him stand out among his peers.

Manor’s fellow adviser Adam Kaverman said he has great rapport with his residents, and fellow adviser Ashley Pace said that he makes normally boring staff duties enjoyable.

Kate Wiggeringloh, another fellow adviser, said she is inspired by the “new enthusiasm” he brings to the job, which helps her get through her own busy day.

“When I wake up in the morning and I have all these administrative duties to do, I am kind of drudging through it,” Wiggeringloh said. “I run into Zack, and he is high-fiving his residents, he is smiling and laughing with them, and he has inside jokes with them.”

Upon graduating this year, Manor has plans to become a civil rights attorney, something he finds to be sort of a role-reversal because he used to be really shy.

“I never really had a voice growing up because I was so shy, and I never really wanted to make myself heard,” Manor said. “I want to be the voice for people who can’t be heard, people who want to be heard but just don’t have the outlet for it.”

Thrust into the spotlight

Manor separates his shyness from his advising role to help develop his authority.

“It’s more like a performance,” Manor said. “When conducting a floor meeting or doing a program, you set it up, so you have to be comfortable doing it. It’s not like you’re thrown into a situation where you’re not comfortable with the environment.”

Manor’s shyness developed in middle school, where there were more students and more responsibility for him to make friends.

He believes there are positive aspects to being shy, such as speaking only when he had something important to say.

“It helped me figure out my own sort of inner monologue and develop my thoughts more clearly so I wouldn’t be so nervous about expressing them out loud,” he said.

Eighty percent of the time Manor didn’t mind his shyness, as it left him time to do his work without distractions.

This didn’t come without a price.

“Any distractions that I had were welcome ones, and things that I wanted to do for myself,” he said. “At other points I would feel like I was missing out on … some great secret in life that everybody else sort of understood.”

Eventually, he was “thrust” out of his shell by taking on more responsibilities. When he joined hall council in his sophomore year of college, his peers convinced him to run for president.

“That was the very beginning of me learning to accept these roles that people are going to give you at some points,” he said. “Absolutely making myself uncomfortable sometimes [just] works.”

While he won the presidency, he said the campaign made it worthwhile. By introducing himself to people and putting up posters, he was able to perform his number one tip for meeting people:

“Put yourself out there.”

This places responsibility on the individual to solve the shyness problem, and Manor said that he has to wait for the person to come to him for advice—he does not actively coax people from their shells.

“If a person is shy, then I don’t think they’ll be very receptive to me getting all up in their faces and saying: ‘Hey, what’s up? Why aren’t you ever talking to anybody?”

This doesn’t stop him from encouraging people to socialize, however. He said he had a resident that didn’t seem to talk to people—so every time he sees him, he asks him about his day and introduces him to people who walk by.

He also encourages people to take advantage of the college atmosphere.

“There’s no lack of people,” he said. “Sometimes all it takes is going to the Union and sitting down next to someone you don’t really know, and you can make the excuse that there are no other seats.

“Before you know it, you may actually be talking to them.”




About Bobby Waddle

Bobby Waddle is a third-year print journalism student at Bowling Green State University.
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