One big introvert misconception is that we are not social.
This is not true!
Our way of socialising is merely different than that of most people.
I believe that everyone can learn the skills to be social. You can learn them, without having to change who you are. It’s just a process of exploring the more outgoing part of yourself.
First—the difference between being social and being sociable:
- Being sociable means wanting company.
- Being social means thinking of the community and welfare of others as well as your own.
Extroverts are more sociable. Extroverts and introverts can be social around people.
This actually taps into some introvert strengths.
We are often thoughtful and tend to think of other people, even down to conversations. Introverts like to contribute impactful and insightful comments, and this is hard to do when we don’t value the welfare of others as well as our own.
But, as everyone who’s tried before to be social found out, it’s often harder than it looks.
That doesn’t mean it’s unachievable.
I know that you can become the person you want to be. It may take mustering up the courage and doing what feels scary.
But before long, what used to feel scary starts to feel more comfortable.
If you want to learn to be more social and outgoing, knowing the mindset and tactics to get you there is essential.
And that’s exactly what we’re going to cover here.
(1) Expect great things to happen
The negativity bias means we often assume the worst.
It’s a survival mechanism leftover from evolution and explains why we give more importance to insults while taking compliments less seriously.
Instead, try to cultivate a little known concept called “pronoia“.
It’s the belief that the world is conspiring to bring good things into your life.
(The opposite of paranoia).
You can do this for most social situations:
- Tell yourself that this is a great opportunity to learn
- Set yourself the challenge of discovering something new
- Assume that you’ll connect with people
When you’re meeting new people or going to social situations that feel uncomfortable or scary, you should absolutely assume the best case scenario.
Assume that you’re going to find a wonderful connection with someone, you’ll be able to connect two people who need each other’s services, and that you’ll come home feeling glad that you went.
There is so much power in positive thinking… but even more power in taking positive action.
Prime your mind by expecting the best, then act in a way that assumes you will be expecting it.
We tend to find what we look for…
“Whatever the mind expects, it finds.”(Brady and Grenville-Cleave, 2017)
And between the two choices, I’d much rather prefer to be a person looking and finding positive scenarios.
(2) People like approachable people
It’s been found that first impressions can insanely be made in the blink of an eye (otherwise known as 1/10 of a second).
And they really count!
Learn to quickly make a good first impression and your confidence in conversations will skyrocket, helping you feel like a social introvert in no time.
People are thinking one thing when they meet you for the first time:
“Can I trust you?”
And once created, first impressions are difficult to change.
Your body language is so important.
Smile! The type of smile that reaches your eyes and shows genuine warmth. (Think of something you love dearly to help if needed).
Create engaged eye contact by trying to find out the other person’s eye colour.
Seriously, by looking with the intent of finding out what it is, it creates the impression that 100% of your attention is on the other person.
Have your hands loose and relaxed by your side. Using them to gesture in conversation subconsciously lowers the anxiety by showing you are not a threat.
When we first meet someone, our eyes instinctively go to their hands.
This goes back to tribal eras when we needed to check if the person was a friend or a foe quickly. If they were carrying a club or something threatening, we needed to know that so we could run off and… survive another day.
Creating a good first impression has another benefit: you can start to take advantage of the halo effect.
The halo effect is where the perception of positive qualities in one area boosts the perception of other qualities.
We assume that if someone is good in one category (friendliness), they would also be good in another category (helpfulness). For example, you meet a friendly person and later think of them as someone who was really helpful—even if they had directly helped you or not.
(3) Use their name frequently in conversation
“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”– Dale Carnegie
Our name forms the foundation of our identity. It’s something we’ve known intimately throughout our life.
When we hear our name we turn towards where it came from.
It’s been ingrained in us so long it’s instinctual, we can’t actually help it.
Using someone’s name in a conversation (both face to face and via email/message) helps them feel at ease.
Tips you can use to remember names:
- After an introduction, repeat their name back to them.
- Drop it into conversation every now and then.
- Link it to something familiar in your mind, eg: another friend. Sometimes a song or a rhyme works well for this. The key is to anchor it to a feeling, memory, or image, that isn’t new.
- Practice. It is okay to double check with them—”Your name is Charlotte, right?” They will correct you if you are wrong, and will be flattered if you are right. Ask people how they want their names pronounced, then say it regularly to help it stick in your mind.
This also goes both ways.
Make it easier for someone to remember your name by:
- Repeating it in conversation.
- Sporadically referring to yourself in third person.
- Explicitly linking it to something well-known, eg: a rhyme.
Become the social introvert who is good with names.
You’ll be remembered for the 10% extra effort.
(4) Ask for someone’s opinion
Being asked for advice is flattering. You feel significant.
There’s an easy way to help someone feel like this…
Invite people to complete your knowledge.
For example, your conversational partner is sharing with you their love for houseplants. Instead of directly asking a question, show your knowledge first:
“Houseplants make my home feel much cosier! I’ve heard that you need to repot them every year. What do you think?”
When you contribute before asking a question, people become more engaged:
- You show that you’re someone who understands them.
- You give them an opportunity to show how interesting they are.
- You help them feel useful as they add value to what you already know.
In fact research from Harvard Business School has found that asking for advice benefits all parties involved.
The person giving advice has an opportunity to share their knowledge and feel significant, while the person receiving it learns something.
Researchers also found that it encourages learning and information exchange, while leaving a positive impression.
It flatters the person giving advice and boosts their self-confidence.
Think back to a time when someone asked for your advice. How did great did that make you feel?
It’s a win-win. Asking for advice means you learn something and make a great impression.
This technique is a great one to use for introverts.
We like to take our time to formulate an insightful and impact response, and transferring the attention to our conversational partner gives us the space we need for this.
An easy way to become a social introvert.
(5) Be strategic with the If/Then – When technique
Talking to people becomes easier when you start small, low-stakes conversations during your day to build up momentum.
Once you’ve built that momentum, you become less anxious.
You don’t think, you just do. It creates an automatic cycle of starting with much less pressure than before.
Conversations become one of many, rather than one of… one.
I like to use the If/When-Then technique (I learnt it from Robert Cialdini).
What is the If/Then – When technique?
It’s a logic model that can help a you determine what to do after you receive a trigger or event.
The idea is to tie goals you have to events that lead to specific actions.
Conversations can end up feeling effortless.
IF I see someone with a cute dog, THEN I’ll start a tiny conversation with them
WHEN I buy food at the supermarket, THEN I’ll start a tiny conversation with the person at checkout
IF I see someone filling up their water bottle at the same time as me at the gym, THEN I’ll start a tiny conversation with them
Aim to keep these tiny conversations as simple as possible.
The most effective strategy is to simply use the shared situation or environment that you’re both in.
Celebrate every time you do this. It’s showing your subconscious that you CAN talk to new people, you have the power to start conversations whenever you like and be both social and an introvert (otherwise known as a social introvert!).
(6) Let go of the outcome
When we enter conversations with an intended outcome, our mind is always checking ahead. It becomes occupied with checking that you’re on course, and if then correcting it.
We start to plan: “If they say this, then I should respond with this”.
Or we start to become anxious about the conversation drying up and running out of stories to share.
Instead, if we enter into a conversation without any pre-determined outcome or agenda, our brains are free to focus on the person in front of us.
We start to pick up on what we find interesting or enjoyable.
And that automatically means the conversation has a better chance of being exciting and enjoyable for the other person as well.
So instead of being attached to a pre-determined outcome, try:
- Responding to what is being said (rather than the story in your head). Ever had the feeling you’re speaking a different language to the other person? You may be creating a narrative around what they are saying and responding to that instead. For example, if you have had a bad experience with something they are sharing, it might influence what you say in return.
- Adapt the conversation by observing their body language. If they frown or look uncomfortable, perhaps by folding their arms, it’s a signal that we should start to shift to a new topic. On the other hand, if they light up, lean forwards, and nod enthusiastically, we’re on the right track.
- Quiet the chatter in your mind to become present. Feel your feet on the floor and the weight of your body. Bring your full attention to the person in front of you.
The conversation will flow.
Time will feel like it’s sped up.
It’s a wonderful way of connecting with new people and becoming a social introvert (without changing who you are).
(7) Practise, practise, practise
As introverts, we like to consume lots of information about a topic before making a decision on what the best course of action would be.
Take this as a sign for you to make the first leap to becoming a social introvert.
One of our introvert superpowers is preparation. And feeling prepared for something has the added bonus of massively boosting your self-confidence.
Take the time to collect the tools and strategies you feel you need to enter a social situation confidently…
Then take action, and practise.
No amount of thinking or reading will magically make you more outgoing, or social, or confidence.
It comes from having the courage to take the leap and step into the fear.
Seek out situations where you can be social this week. There are a huge amount of opportunities for this anywhere in the world, including:
- MeetUp for finding people with similar interests or hobbies
- Shapr for a machine-learning algorithm matching you with relevant people
- Event Mobi for events
Schedule in one time this week where you will walk into your growth zone and put these tips into practise.
After practicing for a while, you’ll look back and be amazed at how far you’ve come!
- Anyone can become a social introvert, and having the mindset tools and social skills techniques can really help.
- Cultivate pronoia by expecting great things to happen… then acting on those positive thoughts.
- We like people who are approachable. Shift your body language to become someone who others want to get to know.
- The sound of our name is the sweetest song. Use the other person’s name frequently in conversation.
- Get strategic by using situation-specific scenarios to practise speaking with strangers.
- Let go of the outcome and focus on the conversation instead.
- Put what you’ve learnt into practise in real life.
I’m celebrating you for taking the next step on becoming a social introvert.
Knowing these skills can really help you in so many areas of your life.
Being able to communicate clearly is so important. Want more tips on how to connect with other people?
Click on the blue button below.
I’ll send you the Introvert’s Ultimate Guide to Connection.
In it, you’ll learn:
- Strategies to melt away awkwardness when starting conversations
- A framework to ensure you’ll never run out of things to say
- How to navigate fears of saying the wrong thing or social blunders