I am very introverted. I can easily go an entire day without talking to anyone, and social interaction tires me out. My friends used to make fun of me because I “stay in my room all day” with the door closed.
Right now I am sitting in a cafe, alone, while groups of people socialize around me. Aside from ordering another coffee, I probably won’t speak to anyone for the next 5 or 6 hours.
There is nothing inherently wrong with introversion, but because we are the minority, many introverts have poor social skills or suffer from social anxiety.
However, introversion is not deterministic. No one is “locked in” to their personality.
If you work at it, you can develop your extroverted side and turn yourself into more of an ambivert. Then when you have the energy and desire, you will be able to “switch on” in social situations.
If you want to succeed in our extroverted society, you need to at least be able to be social when you want to.
There is no reason to handicap yourself and risk missing out on opportunities because you lack social skills, confidence, or are too stuck in your head.
Even if you don’t want to be social very often, you need to at least have the option.
In order to be able to be social when you want to, try to get in the habit of being social even when you don’t want to. Here are 3 ways to be more social as an introvert.
1) When you second guess yourself about saying something, say it anyway
Often when I think of something I might say, there is a two-step process. First, it arises in my head, and then second, I decide not to say it. For whatever reason, I second guess myself or just don’t bother to say what I’m thinking. Often saying something just feels like it’s somehow not worth the effort.
The trouble is, if I let this go unchecked then I end up hardly speaking at all. So to deal with it I add a third “step” to the process; deciding to say the thing anyway.
(For anyone reading who is used to just blurting things out, this won’t make any sense. But if you’re introverted like me, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.)
It takes a bit of effort to make yourself say something after the fact, and it might feel weird or like your statement is “mistimed” in some way. Don’t think about it too much and just say it, even after you’ve second guessed yourself. No one will know the difference and you’ll end up talking way more.
2) Try not to get irritated when people interrupt your train of thought
Have you ever been deep in thought, and then someone suddenly speaks to you or asks you a question? It’s disruptive and annoying, right?
It derails your train of thought, throwing you completely off track. It feels like this person just barged in uninvited, interrupting the conversation you were having with yourself.
But understand that most people are not in their head as much as you are, and that they don’t mean it as such an intrusion. Try not to snap at them or respond too rudely. It might be irritating, but recognize that they probably don’t realize they are disturbing you to the extent that they are.
Respond politely (or at least not rudely) rather than getting annoyed for what others will see as “no reason”. If you really are busy then just say “Can we talk about it later,” and usually people are fine with that.
3) When you are in a social situation, be 100% there
What I mean by this is: don’t be trapped in your head when you are talking to a person or group. This is difficult if you are normally always lost in though, as introverts often are. Regular meditation makes it much easier to become present.
If you’re in a social situation, try to catch yourself immediately when your focus turns to your thoughts, and then return it to the person or people you are talking to. Concentrate on them, on the situation at hand, and on the environment surrounding you, rather than the voice inside your head. Try to be in your body as well.
This doesn’t mean that you have to be hanging off of every word that someone says. Often having a conversation with an extrovert is actually pretty easy because they will just talk the entire time. Some people just like to talk and talk and all you really have to do is sit there and nod and say “Uhuh, right, uhuh” and they will be perfectly happy.
On the flip side, having a conversation with an introvert can be easy too, because you’re both cool with it being quiet a lot of the time. Anyway, I hope this was helpful. Practice being social when you don’t want to, so when the time comes that you do want to, you can do it and do it well.
Read next: The Best Way to Develop Social Skills (If You Have None or They Suck)
Are you introverted like me? Have you had any similar experiences, or other tips for succeeding in an extroverted world? If so, please share them in the comments section below.