Can An Introvert become an Extrovert
Can An Introvert Become An Extrovert
I still find it weird that I effectively earn my living through public speaking. Whether it be delivering talks and pitching in meetings with the NHS, leading training sessions on the sports field or coaching with private clients, if you told 11 year old me that’s what would be paying the mortgage he wouldn’t have believed you, not that he knew what a mortgage was, a simpler time!
11 year old me was painfully shy in so many situations. Whether it be going beetroot red giving an answer in class or shaking at the thought of arriving first for a social event, I was definitely an introvert and, as I got older, I could feel this starting to limit me. I was very ambitious and as I was introduced to basic psychology in my late teens I realised it was here that I needed to invest some effort if I was to get anywhere near where I wanted to go.
Whilst I was taught to be careful of any attempt to categorise humans into such crude boxes, the introvert to extrovert scale seems to be such a part of everyday vernacular that many of us have grown up with our identities attached to these concepts. The challenge with this has largely come for us introverts growing up in a world that has demanded extraversion. We see extroverts around us advancing forward in a system that is largely set up by extroverts for extroverts.
Thankfully, as I have since learnt, this label needn’t be a limit for those of us on the ‘I’ end. There are ways of gaining confidence with traditional extravert tendencies, to the point where you start to question and challenge those labels. Whilst this list is certainly not exhaustive it is the list that I have found to be effective for me.
1. Question why
Just because the rules are written by extraverts doesn’t mean we have to play by them. It is important, as a first step, to question why you are requiring to be more extraverted. Is there a way of doing things that you could suggest which would more suit your personal style? Or is there a mis-match between where you are and who you want to be? Don’t be afraid to look for alternatives, thankfully the world is becoming more introvert aware.
2. Operate from a place of strength and comfort
Self-confidence is built through repetition. Slow, potentially painful, rep after rep. It therefore makes sense to start this from a place where you already feel confident. For me this was in a sporting context, I did my first public speaking in team meetings and post-game speeches. They were still very nerve wracking but I was operating from a place of knowledge and experience which provided comfort.
3. Fake it til you make it
As anyone who has seen the Amy Cuddy TED talk on ‘the power of posture’ will know; we can manipulate our physiology to reduce our stress and feel more confident. Simply imagine what an extraverted person would do in the situation you are in and follow that lead.
4. Implement the barbell strategy
Imagine a barbell with a weight at either end, this is how we should seek to balance our lives. If we create stress or anxiety in one area we need to balance it with rest and relaxation in another. I spend my days in front of people which is why I’ve deliberately chosen to live in a very rural place so I can escape to solitude afterwards. When we do something that is more extraverted we need to then nurture our introvert with something peaceful. This makes the journey sustainable.
5. Don’t do it alone
No successful journey is achieved alone. Enlist the help of others to give you the skills and build your confidence. Find a coach, have a mentor or buddy, join a group, find a community. There are an awful lot of us introverts out there and we can help each other with our journeys.
6. Get geeky about the science of public speaking
Public speaking is often referred to as an art. This is a misnomer and can create limiting beliefs around it. Successful public speaking is all about understanding human neuroscience and appealing to this through your words. Books like ‘Talk like TED’ do a great job of breaking down the simple steps we can take to make our words more appealing to the brains of others. Focusing on these areas takes the focus of ourselves and our fears and anxieties, it shows us that it is a recipe that we can all follow.
7. Embrace vulnerability
If you haven’t yet digested the entirety of Brene Brown’s work then that is your next task. She provides the ultimate roadmap for embracing that nervous, shaky, vulnerability and climbing into the arena. Think of everything good in your life, it all started with vulnerability. To avoid those feelings now robs us of creating and experiencing even more great moments.
8. There is no such thing as failure, only feedback
Whilst you may have specific goals in mind for applying new found extroversion try to maintain a sense of perspective and see this as a life long journey of continual development. That growth mindset approach helps move us away from the black and white of success or failure. When you step into the arena you will ‘fail’, potentially quite often at first. This will not feel good but it is crucial, it is at these moments where we learn and develop if we stay open to that possibility. I regularly bomb now, I’ve learnt to treat myself with some self-compassion at these times and then reframe this as exciting for how much more there is to learn.
I hope the above has started to provide something of a roadmap for my fellow introverts to find ways to jump through those extravert hoops to achieve your goals. The key point with this is that you shouldn’t be trying to fundamentally change who you are, these are simple skills that can allow you to be more of who you are, never less.
Sheffield Private Lunch Club – IMPOSTER SYNDROME
Why not join us in Sheffield at the Leopold for our private lunch club, for mid to senior level professionals. This May we discuss Imposter Syndrome. Click here to find out more about our private lunch club and details on our next Lunch Club in Sheffield.