Introverts, Please Practice Communicating.
What’s really stopping introverts from socializing, and how to overcome it.
One of the biggest misconceptions I had about life was that people were born with the ability to communicate really well. Although there are some people who seem to be gifted in influencing people with words, these people have practiced a lot, whether knowingly or subconsciously. But that doesn’t mean that you cannot exceed those extroverts’ abilities to communicate. Once you realize that making small talks, or striking conversations with strangers can be practiced, you will slowly become an extrovert.
Being an extrovert has its own benefits. You may have great talent, but your lack of communication skills might be hampering you from meeting amazing people in your field, or taking more opportunities. So learning to socialize might take you closer to your goals. Before we dive into the actual tips to practice communications, you should know that introverts are afraid of talking to people for two reasons:
They don't know what to say, and how to say it.
Even though I still am a bit of an introvert, I have made a lot of progress towards becoming an extrovert. But there was a time when I couldn’t even talk to save my life.
A few years ago, our relatives came from Afghanistan to stay for a few months in our house. One day, their daughter got sick and needed to see a doctor. Even though there were nearby clinics, the father insisted on taking her to the government hospital outside the town, because there, they wouldn’t have to pay for the doctor’s fee. But there was a problem. Our relatives didn’t know exactly where the hospital was, and they didn’t speak the language. And since my father had urgent business to take care of, he told me to accompany them there. I was seething with anger, because like most introverts, I hated leading the way, and being in the spotlight. Here, I had to take these adults to a hospital and do all the talking and translating.
Nonetheless, thirty minutes later, we found ourselves in the hospital, and that's where I began to panic. I was just a teenager. I had always been to the hospitals with my parents, and it was they who did the talking. Right then, I felt like I would make a fool of myself in front of our relatives. I didn't know where the receptionist was, and I was afraid to ask the other adults for directions.
"What should I tell them?" I thought.
Even if I had found the receptionist, I didn't know what to say. After a minute, I found the receptionist sitting behind the counter, and my feet slowly took towards his direction.
"Should I ask him where the doctor is?" I thought. "No, that sounds too basic. Should I say we have come to see the doctor? No, that’s stupid, he wouldn’t know which doctor I am talking about."
You can see how I actually made my problem look big and intimidating. But that’s the thing, introverts make a fuss over petty things. However, I was somehow past that stage because the father of the sick girl told me to ask if there was any general physician available right now. Then I fumbled my way through the rest of the appointment; talking to the doctor, and then buying the medicine. And every time I hesitated to say something, fearing that my words would sound foolish because they were the inappropriate words, the father of the patient would help me out with saying the "right thing." But those right things weren’t so different from what I had in mind. It was just that I deemed my way of communication as inferior.
I could have said anything to the receptionist and he would have understood my point. There was no reason for me to think that I didn't know how to say the "right thing." Let's return to the lesson.
So many times, when introverts want to approach a stranger to start a conversation, or ask for a job, or communicate in every stage of life — from setting an appointment with the doctor, to asking for ketchup in a restaurant — they think that there is a right way to say things. And they fear that if they don't say the right things, they will be ridiculed, so they panic and start sweating.
But the truth is, there is not a fixed method to get your words across, and people are smart enough to get your words even if it seems "awkward" to you.
This is the first thing you should remember next time you have to communicate. Secondly, since introverts don’t know what to say, or are afraid of saying it the "wrong" way, they can practice communicating, and become experts in knowing what to say in a particular situation.
Start with the basics.
See how people congratulate, or compliment, or negotiate with each other, and write them down. Heck, you can even search for it on the internet; there are countless videos of people greeting each other and communicating, whether they are in the airport, or in a bar. Once you jot down their dialogues, you can practice them in front of a mirror. I do this all the time.
I am fluent in three languages, but trying to learn even more. Whenever I choose a language to learn, I first learn the basic every day vocabulary, then the numerals, then the greetings, goodbyes, and compliments etc.
There are moments when you meet an old friend on the street, or have to reply to an unexpected question, which makes your mind go blank. Those awkward situations can be avoided if you visualize such scenarios, and come up with things to say to keep the conversation flowing. Do all these things, and see the results for yourself. If you supplement these techniques with another one which I will tell you, your confidence will skyrocket.
Talk from your gut.
Once you learn how to say things, you should start saying them loudly.
Most people are afraid of being the center of attention, so to attract less eyeballs, they speak from their throats, making them look timid. Their words have no zest to them, and people barely like listening to them.
People hate confrontations, and are intimidated by a slightly harsh reply. You don't have to be a smack talking dickhead all the time, but talking loudly from your gut will actually make others listen to you more because they perceive you as confident. When you manage to do this, your brain might hit the alarm button and you might think:
“Oh God, they are looking at me, what should I do now, my knees are beginning to tremble.”
But you should do the next step, which is:
Faking it till you make it.
Even if your body wants to melt and escape the spotlight, you should stand your ground. Keep your chin up and puff your chest; don’t tap your foot on the ground, or crack your fingers in a nervous frenzy. Lastly, don’t cross your arms behind your back all the time. Keep an open body language and soon your feigned confidence will actually make you really confident.
Okay, these are the techniques I have used to slowly becomes an extrovert, but if you have mastered these basic ones and you want to be someone who others would like to talk to, I would recommend reading Dale Carnegie’s books on communication, especially the How To Make Friends And Influence People.
Have a good day, or night.