How to be an Extroverted Introvert
Merry Christmas! I hope you are all having a great time enjoying the holidays.
As you might have guessed from earlier posts, I am more of an introvert. I like hanging out at home rather than going out and talking to myself rather than other people most of the time. So when I found myself at a wedding, where I knew a couple people, but wasn't sitting with them, I had a quick moment where my brain switched into some sort of survival mode. It must have worked because my boyfriend came up to me afterward and said, "look at you running around like a socialite!" A socialite!? I have never been called that before, and never expected to be! I was also sitting next to a man who called himself an introvert outright. I could tell he was even more introverted than me, but I learned a lot watching him navigate the wedding scene too. So for all you introverts out there that think this is a nightmare situation, and it is holiday (socializing) season after all, here is how I put on that extroverted mask:
1. Don’t freak out.
This might seem obvious, but it can also be super hard to remember in the moment. Don’t hide in your shell just yet. It might take a minute to internalize what is happening, especially if you didn't expect it, but take one step at a time and realize you got this!
2. Posture is everything.
The first thing people see is your posture. You don't have to truly feel confident to make people think you are. Head up, shoulders back, and walk like you mean it!
3. Say hi.
Even in your own awkward way. And when you introduce yourself, always say your full name. It can make a situation even weirder if you both know you've met before but don't know each other's names. Maybe even remind them where you met before, if you remember. People meet lots of people every day. You might as well make it less awkward by reminding them right away.
4. Start with small talk.
Where are you from? How do you know the bride and groom? What do you do? Some weather out there, eh? A warm December... Know what questions you can start with.
Ok, this might seem like a huge step. Ya, small talk is one thing but it can turn into an awkward silence in an instant. Practice questions you can ask. This also might seem silly, but I learned this from watching my mom. She’s the absolute best at making friends. (She also works as a nonprofit high-level development person/CEO so she kind of has to be) but I always watched her and thought she makes it look soooo easy, why can't I do that too? Her trick is to keep asking questions until she finds something she has in common with the other person (and yes, a few times even she haven’t found anything with someone). She can just come up with these questions on the spot, and maybe one day I will too, but for now, it takes a little more work for me. Here are some examples of conversation starters. If you really want to test yourself, try and come up with questions that can't be answered with one word. That gets them talking about themselves even more. (That is another development trick.)
6. And don’t just talk about yourself.
This one can also be hard because we fall back on what we know when we don't know what to do, and we know ourselves better than anything else. Instead, try to build the other person up. That’s how you become memorable and make a real connection with them. Everyone loves to talk about themselves, so give them that opportunity, and you might find socializing a little easier.
7. Know your interests.
Even though you don't want to talk their ear off about your past week (when they never asked), you can still come prepared with questions that reflect your interests and allow you to weed out any similarities you might have. The conversation is easy if your both passionate about what your talking about.
8. Work at their names.
Sometimes it takes more work. Find a trick that works for you, whether it is saying it back to them, associating it with the color they are wearing, even writing it down.
9. Know your limits.
You know that man I met at the wedding, he really stood his ground when his buddies asked him to go up and do the garter thing with them. I have so much respect for that. Peer pressure can really get you in some places you don't want to be. So know your limits and stick to them. Nobody is going to be mad at you for hanging back. Take a minute to yourself if you need it. Recharge. Take a deep breath.
10. Remember that you make it awkward, or don't.
It is your choice whether or not you make the first move and say, "Hi, I know we have met before, but what was your name again?" instead of playing that awkward, I know you but can't remember your name, glancing game all night. Go on the offensive and take the bull by the horns! Also, realize that other people are awkward too. Maybe that is the similarity you can bond over...
And that’s how it’s done. Not easy, by any means, but with practice and a little more hard work and planning, you can survive those inevitable social events, and come out a winner!
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Owner and Founder, kfons