Confessions of an Introvert Highly Skilled at Masquerading as an Extrovert
“Introverts are capable of acting like extroverts for the sake of work they consider important, people they love, or anything they value highly.”
Do you have to attend events, either socially or professionally? Do you ever feel hesitant? Nervous?
Do you struggle to “make yourself” attend? Wish you liked these gatherings?
Well as a true introvert (no kidding, I wish we could just attend these things virtually in our pajamas, with our video cameras turned off) I’ve learned a few things.
People are always surprised when I claim myself as an introvert. Boy, do I have them fooled!
Not anymore. At the risk of blowing my cover, I’m sharing my best secrets with you!
Create Safety; Inside and Out
It’s a little known secret that I’ve found to serve me well; everyone, no matter what it seems, is scared. That person who just walked in, doesn’t know who to talk to. The person across the table wishes they had a friend so they didn’t feel so uncomfortable. That person standing alone acutely feels the pain of not having been included in a group.
When we are afraid, we don’t feel safe. When we are afraid we can fall into 1 of three behaviors; fight, flight or freeze. In situations where people gather, we often choose “freeze” or “flight”.
What this creates is an opportunity for a person who knows how to reference their own inner security. When you can remind yourself that you are safe, then you can extend the light of safety to others. And when you do so, what you’ll feel is the relief the other person feels, if you look for it.
I’m going to share with you, one of my most coveted secrets. When I’m feeling a bit uncomfortable about attending an event I simply remind myself of these three things:
- People appreciate someone who is strong and safe enough to be themselves.
- People care about those who care about them. So all I have to do is care.
- People are hungry to be heard. All I have to do is ask a few questions from genuine curiosity and people will start talking. All I have to do is listen.
Take the Lead
When people are nervous, aka frightened, they are hesitant to make the first move. Their fear is a signal to others who probably will then feel uncomfortable back and try to hang back or avoid.
When I connect to my inner safety and security, a type of confidence arises. This allows me to deliberately make the first move to extend a hand, turn toward someone alone, or catch someone’s eye. I can offer a greeting or opening first.
I guarantee that this makes you memorable in other’s memories. They will recall that person who offered them the opportunity to “join in”. They will see you as a leader, as someone who stands apart.
If you want to heighten this even more, play the host or hostess and introduce those you meet to others, even if you don’t yet know them. That’s one of my favorite tricks. It’s a super easy (and fun, once you get used to it) way to get a social momentum going;
- meet someone
- introduce them to someone else
- call someone over and introduce them round
- start again
This is also a very easy way to avoid getting caught by someone who really doesn’t yet understand the art of conversation and, in their nervousness, attempts to monopolize the conversation.
Not only are you escaping capture, but you are also modeling a social behavior that works better for everyone in attendance.
Have a Backup Plan
One of the ways to help you connect to a feeling of security is to have a back up plan. That can look several different ways:
- Bring a friend. Have a conversation with that person. Have a plan in place to explore out and away from one another, but have one another to fall back on if you need to retreat and begin taking initiative again.
- Slowly and deliberately walk around the entire venue. Then go to the men or ladies room where you can think about where you want to start things off in a deliberate manner. This will help you feel more in control. Your actions are from your own choice. This too, will help you feel more secure.
- Cut yourself some slack. Have an agreement with yourself before you enter an event about what you need to be feeling to stay. If you truly are uncomfortable (not just nervous because it’s new) then let yourself leave. Stretch yourself, but don’t be harsh. You’ll have more success and be inclined to try another event if you refrain from forcing yourself.
- Set your goals for the event, but lower the bar. I often say to myself that I want to be sure and connect with just one person I’d want to speak to again. That’s an easy goal to accomplish and of course, you guessed it, I always make more connections than just the one.
A Few Extra Tips
I have a few extra tips for you that I just couldn’t decide where to place under the previous headings so here you go…
Smile, not just with your mouth; all the way up to the eyes, all they way inside.
Feel the smile. Those on the outside can’t resist.
Do you think you might have trouble with this? Then that’s where to start. Being with others starts with being with ourselves. Cultivate a life that brings a smile to your face that you feel in your heart. When you “bucket” is filled, it’s easy to open the gates to share with others.
If you still think this might be hard, call me right away to set up a 20 minute “Get To Know You”. Let’s explore what needs to shift to get a smile back on your face!
Practice, practice, practice
As someone who attends my fair share of networking, speaking and business events, I can tell you that the more these skills are practiced, the easier they are to use and access. They become a part of who you are. You begin to be them without even thinking about it.
Take joy in your accomplishments!
Do you have a buddy, a mentor, a mastermind, or a journal where you can celebrate when you achieve successful interactions? It’s the sharing, the acknowledging that helps anchor these behaviors and make them a part of you more quickly and easily. Reach out if you want to talk about how you can get support.