If there’s one thing that prevents people from being charming, it’s this deadly phrase: “I’m introverted, and I don’t really like talking to people.”
I’ve found over and over again that being ‘introverted’ is a poor excuse for not liking to socialize. In fact, being introverted has more to do with how you manage your energy than how good you are with people.
Because being charming to anyone you meet can allow you to make friends with ease, get new opportunities, and even date anyone you want, it’s a crucial social skill to master. The best part? You don’t have to be loud, gregarious, or striking up a conversation with everyone to do it.
Here’s how to do it regardless of how introverted or shy you feel:
1. Make yourself comfortable
One of the biggest mistakes you can make going into a social situation is to constantly worry: “Will they like me?” and “What will they think of me?”
The minute you start thinking that way, the more self-conscious you become, and the more your behavior skews towards being ‘people pleasing’ than being yourself.
What to do instead?
Before you go into a social situation—whether it’s a party, an event, or even work—do an activity that makes you feel relaxed and at ease with yourself. This can range from meditating to having an uninterrupted meal to going for a run. I call these ‘pre-game rituals’ so that you feel confident before you go into the situation, versus trying to calm yourself down in the middle of talking.
2. Use the ‘Child-Like Wonder’ technique
Most introverts I know feel exhausted by small talk and conversation because they feel they constantly have to rack their mind for what to say.
The good news? There is no perfect line or witty, clever phrase that will suddenly make you charming. In fact, the harder you try to ‘charm’ someone the more forced and unpleasant it feels.
Instead, charm your conversation partner with what I call the ‘Child-Like Wonder’ technique. You become curious about who’s in front of you and ask them open-ended, ‘why’-type questions so you can draw out detailed and interesting answers you can use to further the conversation.
But there is some fine print: This isn’t to be confused with peppering the person with question after question as if it’s an interview. Questions like “Why did you move?” or “How did you do that?” will prevent that from happening because they elicit meaty answers.
3. Listen and observe like Sherlock Holmes
The essence of charm is knowing how to make whoever you’re talking to feel like they’re the only person in the room, and introverts have a huge advantage here. They love to listen and be thoughtful about what they’re going to say, and anyone in the presence of that will swoon with how special they feel in your presence.
But listening and observing is harder than you think.
It’s not enough to simply nod and not say anything. In fact, excellent listening is about hearing what the other person is not saying. You do this by observing how someone is talking—their facial expression, body language, and even their tone of voice. Then, you reflect back to them what you’re both hearing AND seeing.
The easiest way to do it is to use phrases like this:
“It sounds like even though moving was a huge challenge for you, it was also what you needed to do”
“It sounds like even though the job is challenging, you get a rush from it. I can see your face light up when you talk about it”
“It sounds like where you lived was a great place, but also tough, too, because of what you mentioned about ‘X’”
Of course, you don’t need to use those phrases word for word. But they’re powerful because you’re reflecting back to that person what they’re saying, but also mentioning a different part of it that wasn’t talked about. This is the best way to make someone feel truly heard and listened to, and they’ll wonder how you’re so in tune with what they’re thinking. Instant charm.
While it’s normal to feel shy about talking to people, the only way to get better at this is to start practicing today. The next conversation you have, you can use your advantage as an introvert to be as charming as you want without needing to ‘own the room’ or be the life of the party. You will be amazed by how you can draw people to you without changing anything about your personality.