As the world has transitioned to a more global and internet based way of life, it can be easier to be an introvert these days, connecting with people without ever having to leave your house.
But being an introvert in an extrovert world still isn’t easy.
From business meetings to college campuses to high school pep rallies, extroverted people who thrive around being around people just seem to have some advantages when it comes to being perceived as friendly or being able to do the networking, social meetings, and general hype that you need to have to be successful in the world.
Now, don’t get me wrong – extroverts are awesome and should be valued for the energy they bring to all situations, but there’s no denying that we, as a society, seem to value their innate skills more than that of introverts.
Introverts can tend to be behind-the-scenes, and they’re not always the first to talk at a meeting or conference.
They might prefer to not be surrounded by a lot of people and just have a few close friends, or they might be the person who slinks off to the buffet table at the party instead of telling all of the funny jokes.
I am the world’s biggest introvert, and I make no apologies for it.
I prefer interpersonal interactions rather than that of a large group (or even a small group).
I get tired after socializing and want to be alone.
I like writing rather than speaking.
The list goes on.
But over the years, I’ve learned some ways of improving your experience as an introvert in an extroverted world and playing to your strengths.
My Favorite Book for Introverts
Okay, everyone grab your favorite introvert shirt like this one and let’s get going.
1. Learn How to Be a Genuine Person
What the world needs more of, rather than introverted or extroverted people, is genuine people.
If you can say what you mean and be authentic in your interactions with people, you will get far in your life and develop a great network of people around you.
Sure, people are drawn to outgoing people, but they are also drawn to people who they can trust and who are authentic in everything they do.
Make sure that you’re being a genuine person in everything you do and embracing your true self and letting that shine through, never being fake or insincere.
2. Embrace a Role as the “Hype Wo(man)”
If you’re happy in a behind-the-scenes role in people’s lives, embrace that.
I was much happier being my friend’s confidante in college than being the one dancing at parties with them.
But when the party was over, they would come back to our dorm and tell me everything that happened and any potential love interests or funny things that happened.
I played an important role in their life, but it wasn’t front and center with them out in the world, and that was fine.
That was what I wanted.
3. Find Jobs that Use Your Skills
When it comes to deciding on your career path, there are so many that do thrive on introverts and the skills they bring to the table.
If you are happy to spend lots of time alone, you could find a job that is a lot of independent work without that team atmosphere, or you could go into a career in writing, where many of the people on the team might actually be introverts and putting you all on the same social playing field.
Think carefully about how you want to spend your time at your job and what type of people you want to be surrounded with, and embrace that.
For instance, I thought I wanted to go into PR, but it turns out PR is a lot of networking and socializing and events.
Instead, I now make money online with my blogs, which uses almost all of my PR skills, but doesn’t require the same level of social interactions.
4. Push Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone, Knowing Your Limits
Just because you’re introverted doesn’t mean you should hole yourself up and never talk to anyone, and that’s not what I’m saying.
To thrive in this world, you should always be trying to go just a step further outside of your comfort zone, as that’s how you grow.
If the entire world was set up specifically to cater to you, you wouldn’t grow and, to be honest, that would be boring.
The main thing is knowing your limits.
If your friend invites you out to a big dinner with a group of friends, maybe you say yes, but then excuse yourself later on when they move on to the bar for more drinks.
Maybe you push yourself out of your comfort zone within a club or organization that you feel comfortable in by taking on a leadership position after you’ve gotten to know more people and feel more confident.
You can be a great leader and be an introvert.
Don’t hold yourself back.
5. Be Honest about Your Introversion
There’s nothing wrong with being introverted.
It’s not a bad thing or something to be ashamed of.
So be honest about this part of you, whether that’s in a work or a public or a friend group setting.
I used to turn down invitations to go out with my friends in college, and they knew why.
I just didn’t want to be around a giant group of people for hours and preferred to do what I wanted to do.
They appreciated my honesty and we were able to maintain strong bonds because they didn’t think I was just not interested in being friends or doing things with them.
It can also help in the workplace to be honest about your introversion.
Other colleagues might be the same way, and it can encourage others to be their true selves and help each other work towards the final goal in a way that works for them.
6. Think of Group Speaking as a Skill
One big hang up for many introverts or shy people is a fear of public or group speaking.
I don’t even like speaking to a group of more than two other people, as it suddenly feels scarier.
However, you can learn how to speak to groups and how to speak to the public as a skill rather than something that you do because it brings you energy.
There are going to be times in your life, whether that’s doing presentations in school or speaking at conferences for your job or in meetings, where you’re going to need to speak to a group.
Accept it as a necessity and practice ways of making it easier for yourself.
I basically just blur everyone out and don’t make eye contact with any one person, and suddenly they all disappear a bit and it’s like talking to just one massive person rather than hundreds.
7. Send in Your Feedback/Thoughts in Writing
One of the hardest parts about being an introvert in an extroverted world is keeping up in conversations with extroverts.
An extrovert will often start talking before they even know what they’re going to say, while introverts feel they need to think through exactly what they’re going to say before they say it.
It can be helpful in these situations to either write down your thoughts before the meeting so you’re ready to jump in with them, or to use written communication to express things to people even after the conversation is over.
For instance, if a group of friends is having a conversation about a movie they all liked and you feel like you can’t get a word in edgewise, wait until after the group is dispersed and then go up to one of your friends and carry on the conversation individually.
In a workplace setting, send an e-mail to your boss with your thoughts from the meeting after it has been held if you couldn’t work up the nerve to say something in the meeting.
It’s not ideal, but it can be a nice stepping stone instead of just not saying anything or letting your voice be heard.