1. Follow your inner GPS
Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Emma Watson. Every single one of them are noted introverts. Let it now be known that you have models out there, people who have struggled with introversion; humans like you and me who lived their lives in a proudly dignified way, instead of living by the rules and conforming to extroverted personalities.
2. You don’t have to be an extrovert to be a good leader
It’s high time to uncouple leadership from extroversion. Wharton management professor Adam Grant and his colleagues found that introverted leaders make better leaders when leading proactive people and extroverted leaders do better when in charge of less proactive people. This is because some extroverted leaders might feel what is known as “status uncertainty” and feel challenged by the proactive employees, while introverted leaders are less concerned with their egos and are generally more receptive to advice.
3. Introverted extroversion
Susan Cain’s book “Quiet” mentions an interesting little theory known as the “Free Trait Theory” which states that introverts are sometimes able to display “extroverted” behavior when doing something close to their hearts and deepest passions. That’s why some of you may feel energized, brimming with seemingly boundless energy when doing something you love. Understanding this little theory goes a long way in helping you direct your social electricity to things that you love, and help channel them away from things that you don’t really like.
4. Don’t make introversion an excuse
Sometimes it’s a cinch to blame genetics, to blame fate. Because that implies a final resolution, something that cannot be changed and is forever rendered static. So don’t use introversion as an excuse. Don’t use it for an excuse for not socializing: introverts love to socialize, it’s just that we get weary afterwards. And that’s okay, because we can recharge.
My point is: get out there and meet people, don’t use introversion for self-reclusive, anti-social behavior. Once you take the first step, it’s always easier. Trust me. I was once like that.
5. Incentivize yourself
Sometimes you just want to give yourself a break and escape from the world. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that — we introverts have to sometimes retreat into our personal world and recharge silently (if only it were as easy as how Green Lantern does it). But sometimes, it’s easy to let loose and fall into a deeper trench and even easier to just stay there and not venture. So set targets, and incentivize yourself. For example, say you were saving a book for a quiet Saturday evening ensconced in your sofa, buried deep inside the warmth of its leathery hide. BUT WAIT. How about making an effort to go for this mini-meetup with some friends? You’ll end up appreciating the book even more, I bet. And moreover, you may end up enjoying the social gathering even more than you imagined.
6. Small-talk the introvert way
A dictum that has been going around, or at least what I perceive, is that introverts dislike small talk. It might appear odd then when I say that I actually do enjoy small talk. But there’s a caveat, as you might have guessed. I enjoy small talk only when it pertains to an interest. So if you can, try to direct the trajectory of the discussion to stuff that you are interested in to make small talk less tedious. However, when your friend starts talking about something that holds little interest to you, a neat trick that I learnt is to try framing the conversation as one to know that person better, if he or she is a valued friend whom you are trying to build a meaningful relationship. In this case, it would be a change from a topic of interest to a person of interest, and it’s easier to input energy into the conversation.
“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” Questions are powerful weapons that are capable of building upon the intrinsic strengths of introverts who are generally more sensitive and empathetic. A good question then, is one that conflates genuine concern and sincere curiosity and can be directed to anything or anyone. I have too discovered that asking is a way of making yourself heard, especially amidst the noise and energy that is generated predominately by extroverts.