An Introvert’s Guide to Becoming More Social
If you met me today, you’d probably see a happy, smiling girl chatting with a bunch of people around her. I bet, hidden beneath this social butterfly, you’d never recognize the quiet, shy girl I used to be… Being an only child with an introverted personality is an interesting experience. It taught me how to feel great on my own, to appreciate my own space and allowed me to have lots of fun. I was always more introspective than others; I read and practiced drawing a lot and even built my own world inside my head. The world inside my head became so unique and special that it was difficult for me to let others in. But at the same time, I missed other people and thought it would be easier for me if I were more social…
“People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.” – Joseph F Newton
Is the world tailored for extroverts?Yes it is. It’s definitely easier to be a confident person who knows how to express your feelings and say directly what you think. My grandmother used to say: “Be nice and polite; people will notice you and your values.” That’s not true at all! If you want to achieve something at school or at work, you have to know how to represent your values well. The social capital you build from your social connections is often much more valuable than your degrees. It’s worth incorporating some extroverted character traits because being social and a good communicator can open many doors and simply make you happier. I’m an introvert and I like it. I really appreciate time alone and would prefer getting stabbed over revealing the serious stuff happening in my mind. But at some point, I made an effort to change and open up a bit towards other people, which was a nice change. I don’t know when I started being known as a person who enjoyed hanging out with all sorts of people, from various backgrounds, ages and subcultures. Going alone to a party and talking to strangers while travelling solo is not an issue for me anymore. It took a lot of practice and mental work to become more social. It’s not a process that’s accomplished overnight. It’s a process of enriching your personality and takes place in many small steps. But I’m sure that becoming more social is possible for everyone. Here are seven keys to becoming more social:
1. Start smallDon’t try to suddenly take huge steps. To become more social you need to learn how to expand your comfort zone, slowly. If you have a tendency to do things alone or with an old friend, just try going a step further. Go to a place where there’ll be plenty of people you don’t know well. Don’t sit in a circle and talk to only the people you know. Use parties or meals with friends as an opportunity to talk to people who are in your circle but you don’t know well.
2. Chat with strangersMaster chatting with people you’re unfamiliar with so you can speak to people who you actually want to get to know later. Coming over to talk to a pretty girl at a bar or going into a circle of unknown people and inserting yourself into the conversation requires advanced social skills. You might never be an accomplished conversationalist without trying small things first. Find your own way to approach strangers and open your mind to them. You can come up with a variation of the method I developed when I was a kid. My teacher suggested that I ask random people what time it was. I thought it was for fun but now I see that it was a simple exercise to teach social skills. Just asking people about the time quickly went into much further conversation and so I advise you to try the same… Chat with a taxi driver, passengers seated next to you on a train, or a shop assistant. You can ALWAYS say something more than “hi” or “how much does it cost” or “thanks.” Talk to a person waiting with you in a queue or with a barrista who is making your coffee. Ask when the bus is coming, or say that there are so many people here today. Whatever matches the situation and is said in a friendly way with a smile will be great. You’ll be surprised by the positive effect!
3. Don’t get overwhelmed by those who speak too muchDo you know the saying “barking dogs seldom bite?” Don’t let yourself believe that people who speak too much are the only ones who have anything really important to say. I sometimes think that people who speak loudly and talk a lot must think of their voices as some music we all must hear, unfortunately… Never let yourself believe that people who speak too much have more to say, because it’s usually quite the opposite. Really chatty people are usually by no means the most interesting people in the world. I’m sure you have at least as much as they do to say. It’s high time for you to believe that you do too!
4. Learn to act like likeable people doIf you want motivation for becoming more social you need positive feedback from others. There are certain things all likeable people have in common. Try to incorporate some new ways of communication.
- Smile a lot. There’s no person in the world who doesn’t like an honest smile. If you’re not used to it, train in front of the mirror everyday.
- Speak loud and clear so people don’t have to struggle to understand what you’re saying.
- When people talk to you ask them questions and follow the conversation. It’ll pleasantly boost their ego, because everyone needs to be listened to.
- Ask people for advice. They love to feel validated and important.
- Ask open questions so the conversation doesn’t get stuck on “yes” or “no” responses.