Already, by writing this title, I’m sure I’ve annoyed a few people. Extroversion is supposed to be a personality trait, not something you pick, but something you were born with. That might be true. But even if you are fairly introverted, I think you can still capture some of the best parts of being an extrovert:
- Being comfortable with groups of people.
- Meeting people easily.
- Having conversations without wondering what to say.
I used to be incredibly introverted. My social life was lagging behind and I used to blame it on my personality. While I can’t claim to be an expert in charisma, I have made big improvements towards the three skills I mentioned earlier. Best of all, I still get to keep the best parts of being an introvert, like being able to focus during time alone.
How to Boost Your Extroversion
I found there were a couple of key steps I took that helped me learn the best parts of being an extrovert, without changing my personality. Everyone needs to take their own path, but hopefully by sharing the steps that worked for me, you boost your extroversion as well.
The most obvious first step is simply to spend more time with people. If you feel uncomfortable in social situations, that’s probably because you aren’t in them frequently. This advice is so obvious it hardly deserves mention, but it’s a step few decided introverts take on. If you aren’t extroverted, you won’t feel motivated to meet people, and if you don’t feel motivated to meet people, you can’t become extroverted. It’s an unfortunate Catch-22 that can stall self improvement.
If you feel stuck in this cycle of isolation, I think there are two main places you can break it. Both strategies work, and doing both at the same time might be your best option.
Find Social Activities You Enjoy
One barrier that forces many people to be introverted is if they don’t see any enjoyable social activities around them. If you don’t like going to bars, and all the people you know are party animals, you might feel happier staying in.
Realizing this was a big step in helping me become more extroverted. I realized that there were certain events and groups of people I could be a lot more outgoing with. There were other people who I didn’t connect with. You won’t connect with everyone, so finding different groups of people is a good starting point.
The best way to find new groups of people are through clubs, volunteering or small classes. Activities with a sign-up sheet. Although you can meet people anywhere, it’s way easier to connect with people if you already have a shared interest and you’re in an environment designed to help you meet new people.
Push Your Comfort Zone Limits
The second strategy to become outgoing is to crush any social fears you have. Everyone has limits at what they consider too gutsy. For extreme extroverts, these limits are pushed far back. For introverts, they might be a lot closer. Pushing your comfort zone backwards makes it easier to socialize.
Once you’ve gone past your comfort zone, it’s easier to do it again. Last year, when I moved to a new building, I took the initiative to go around and say hello to everyone. This is something that would have terrified me four years ago, but was only a mild fear at that time. A month ago, when I moved again, I did the same thing. This time the introductions were even easier to do.
My philosophy is to do the smallest step possible. Don’t beat yourself up if introducing yourself to hundreds of strangers in one day seems terrifying. Build up to it by slowly picking bigger challenges. The key to this tactic is to find the intermediate step between what terrifies you and what you do every day.
Learn the Art of Talking
Listening is an important skill. It is probably even more important than talking. However, if you’re in a conversation and you’re fighting an awkward silence, listening only magnifies that fact. Another skill to become extroverted is to be able to talk non-stop.
In practice, you won’t want to talk non-stop. In fact, the best conversations I’ve had are when I do little of the talking. But, as a reformed introvert, I can say that the worst feeling is standing in a group of people and having nothing to say. Even if you don’t speak all the time, having the ability to do so gives you a lot more confidence in social situations.
You can get the gift of gab by learning to continue conversations even when you aren’t sure what to say. Just say anything. Although you may feel awkward, usually any conversation attempts will be good enough. If you can practice this, then you’ll always have a backup in case the conversation hits a road block.
The Joy of Introversion
I’ve been promoting the side of being an extrovert, but there are benefits to introversion. As an introvert, you can get the benefits of peak productivity while working by yourself. Solitude is also useful for thinking and creative work, so being introverted can enhance your other skills.
The ideal way to live is to capture the best of both. To have the social skills of an extrovert with the quiet discipline and peace of mind of an introvert. If you can do that, who cares what a personality test says you are?
Image by B D Solis.