Open, approachable, warm, friendly, unrestrained … I’m not sure about you, but when I think of the typical extrovert, I make these word associations, perhaps along with a few other less savory ones as well (loudmouthed and exhibitionist also come to mind).
For quite some time since Susan Cain’s Introvert Revolution took off, social media has shifted its attention to the many virtues of being an introvert, with many advocates (including myself) arising from obscurity and encouraging self-acceptance amongst the world’s introverted, and generally misunderstood, population.
While this is wonderful and extremely beneficial, extroversion does tend to get shunned and discredited amongst all the frenzied passion and self-empowerment.
As Sol pointed out in his last article:
When we talk about “types” of people, this also implies a separation between groups of people that really doesn’t exist.
So although these personality labels of “introvert” and “extrovert” do tend to create unnecessary separation and dissent (not taking into account that most people are actually Ambiverted), for the purpose of this article, we’ll use “extrovert” to refer to a friendly and open person. We’ll also use the label to discus how and why temporarily tapping into your inner extrovert can benefit your life in the long run.
Doesn’t That Make Me Inauthentic?
Why go to the extra effort? What’s the point? Doesn’t that go against our own personal authenticity?
Actually, this article was inspired by an email I recently received from an introverted LonerWolf reader wanting to find effective ways to ‘fake extroversion’ for the purpose of excelling in a desired position within a company.
My response was that we are all multidimensional beings, which is why through life we are often able to discover and access new sides of ourselves that we never knew existed before.
I believe that we are all able to be introverted and extroverted (to varying degrees of course), so it is not a question of going against your personal authenticity to tap into a way of being that doesn’t come first-nature to you. We are all capable of opening ourselves up, just as we are all capable of introspecting.
Depending on your strengths and abilities, becoming a charming and gregarious extrovert can take a lot of time, energy and persistence, but can certainly be refined for your benefit in the end.
So what’s the point, and why bother? Well, learning how to be a warm and sociable person can personally benefit you in the following situations:
- Job interviews.
- Meeting the family of your boyfriend/girlfriend.
- Interacting with children.
- Gaining pay rises and job promotions.
- Bargaining and bartering.
- Excelling in positions of authority.
- Playing the role of a mediator or peacemaker between people.
- Finding a new friend or small group of friends.
- Business networking.
- Showing other people they are important and valued through conversation and social niceties.
As you can see, these are 10 of the possible ways tapping into your inner extrovert can benefit your life, and the lives of others in the long term.
How to Be an Extrovert
Being your extroverted self is not just about “faking” it all the time. In my experience, creating balance in life is essential for your own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Balancing introversion with extroversion creates more equilibrium within you, opens more doors, and introduces more skill sets than just remaining in your small circle of comfort would ever give you (and this is coming from a highly introverted loner).
However, to constantly put yourself in positions that demand different skill sets does require a lot of mental and emotional balance. By this I mean that if you are prone to anything like excessive crippling anxiety, perfectionist angst, or self-esteem issues, you will need to work on creating more balance within yourself before stepping into this challenging territory.
So while I’m no expert at how to be extroverted, I have experimented with a few tricks and approaches through observation. This is what I had, and still have, the most success with:
1. Always acknowledge people.
Make it a habit to greet people and say goodbye to them, no matter who they are, or how close they are to you. Saying a few friendly words to absolute strangers isn’t actually considered that weird, believe it or not! To remain quiet for an extrovert in such situations is very off-character (they consider it cold, unfriendly or rude).
2. Genuinely take interest in people.
Find something to love about each and every person you meet. Whether a loveable quirk, their eclectic style, or a specific virtue, you must find something to appreciate about the person. This is mandatory (sorry for the use of an intimidating word, but it’s true). If you’re not genuinely interested in the people you talk to, this will eventually come across.
3. Embrace the need for small talk.
If you’re an introvert you will undoubtedly find small talk irritating and mundane, but to extroverts small talk is essential. Why? Small talk forms a social bridge of careful, friendly connections with people. It’s a way to test the social waters and establish how much you have in common with other people, as well as how safe or appropriate it is to reveal more about yourself. There are many social sharks out there who use your personal information as gossip bait, so consider small talk a prudent caution. Also, you can make small talk typical and boring (e.g. about the weather or traffic), or spice it up a bit (e.g. about something unexpected that happened to you, something weird you heard on the news, a joke about something you just saw).
4. Pay attention to your body language.
Psychology and sociology have constantly shown that what we feel and think directly influences how we present our physical bodies. If you are bored, you yawn; if you want to leave a conversation, your feet will point towards the nearest exit; if you are uncomfortable or insecure, your arms will be crossed over your chest tightly. Learning basic body language is important to keep yourself open and inviting. We have 10+ articles on the essentials of body language which you may like to take the time to read. This will give you a good place to start.
5. Learn how to “mirror”.
I previously wrote about mirroring here, and its ability to create a sense of affinity and understanding between people. When two people “click”, you will often find that their body language mimics that of the other person’s. People who mirror each other develop immediate connections. You might like to continue reading here.
6. Keep an open mind.
People with charm avoid being inflexible and judgmental. They enjoy seeing the world through other’s eyes as well as their own. ~ Brian Tracy & Ron Arden, “The Power of Charm“
Tapping into your inner extrovert is about learning how to become cordial and approachable. If you are an intolerant, opinionated bigot, you won’t get very far at all. Putting yourself in the shoes of others and trying to see through their own eyes helps to foster more compassion, empathy, and social charm. Communicate your ideas and beliefs with respect as a simple exchange of ideas, rather than as an arrogant display of superiority or rightness.
7. Participate actively, but keep it equal.
It is said that only 7% of what we respond to in a social situation are the words of the speaker (55% is what we see, and 38% is what we hear), so it doesn’t matter how eloquent you are, just make sure you participate at least 50% of the time. Keep the ball in the other person’s court and allow them to take over as much as they like. Not only will this make it easier for you, but this will create stronger connections than simply yapping on about yourself for hours. There is the charming extrovert, and then there is the obnoxious one.
8. Be open, but distant.
Sounds a bit like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? One mistake I’ve made during my journey of honing my extrovert skills was getting too involved with people too quickly. If you are an introverted by nature, you really need to learn how to make space for your quiet self to breathe. Otherwise, you may find yourself feeling suppressed, caged in, or constantly overwhelmed. Once again as I mentioned, you must be mentally and emotionally balanced to tap into your inner extrovert. So while you can be warm, friendly and sociable, you can also create distance between yourself and other people by not getting too involved with their lives and problems, or allow others to not get too involved in your life matters. This will safeguard you well against dreaded “drinks at the pub” or “get-togethers after work”.
Refining your charming and gregarious extrovert skills can take a lot of time, effort and practice, but in my experience it can significantly benefit your life in the long term. Remember to not throw yourself in the deep end by first establishing mental and emotional balance, and you will find new and unexpected doors opening to you everywhere!
Feel free to share your experiences below!