Are you an introvert? Do you like being alone? Are you more comfortable in small groups? If your answer is yes, yes, and yes, you are probably introverted. While there are many valuable assets of introversion, it takes a little bit of extroversion to make your way through today’s society.
Learning how to act extroverted can seem like an impossible task at first. But if you want to learn how to be more outgoing and sociable without losing your introverted character, there are the steps you can take. Learning how to be an extrovert does not mean you have to change who you are. Introversion is a valuable side of yours, it only means that you are ready to make a positive change in your life.
Start your journey with these simple steps!
1. Understand Who You Are
Start by developing self-awareness about your behaviour patterns. Why do you feel more comfortable alone? What makes you anxious about social situations? Begin to monitor your thoughts, feelings, and actions and really pay attention to yourself.
The importance of self-awareness has been studied for decades. Studies have shown that the process of self-reflection helps alleviate stress related to interpersonal difficulties. You will be better able to work on parts of your personality if you are able to acknowledge and accept these behaviours before trying to change them.
A period of self-reflection will help you identify patterns that recur in your life and give you an opportunity to change them. If you are able to accept that you are an introvert without trying to change yourself, you will be better equipped to move forward.
2. Picture the “Right” Type of Extrovert
If you were an introvert your whole life, it might be easier for you to identify extroverts by their stereotypes. You might believe that all extroverts are loud, obnoxious, attention-seeking people — Why would you want to become them? It is natural to define a group this way out of jealousy or fear. Instead of trying to adopt behaviours you admire, you might focus on the negative as a way to avoid change.
If you find yourself using this avoidance tactic, take a step back and reflect. Try to picture three extroverts in your life that you actively admire. Write down what behaviours and personality traits they have that you want to adopt.
Admitting that there are parts of your personality you want to work on is a difficult step. It’s always easier to ignore the process and deflect with a negative stereotype. If you find yourself in these thought patterns just remember — Introverts and extroverts are not better or worse, they are just different people.
3. Be Willing to Grow
This is a pivotal step in any journey of self-improvement. Sure, you can logically understand where you want to end up, but change is an action word. You can’t keep everything the same and expect different results. This is where willingness comes in. You will have to be entirely ready for any changes to take hold.
If you have a desire to grow, a willingness to change, and you are able to accept new parts of your life, the resources you need to work on your personal goals will come to you. It will become clear that your openness to a different experience will directly impact the positive changes you receive. As a Chinese proverb says:
“Be not afraid of growing slowly. Be only afraid of standing still.”
The more willing you are to change, the easier it will be. Your genuine desire to work on yourself will be apparent to others. These people will clear your path towards extroversion and help you along the way. And your willingness will help you keep a positive attitude along the way
4. Do What Feels Uncomfortable
Part of this willingness to change will include doing things you wouldn’t normally do. If you aren’t feeling a little uncomfortable daily, you probably aren’t allowing yourself to grow. You shouldn’t expect to change overnight– developing new habits takes time. However, being uncomfortable means that you are on the right track.
It will be important to learn how to act as if in the beginning of your journey. Fake it till you make it, as the saying goes. Acting as if these new behaviours come naturally to you will help you start to practise them daily. Treat the world as your stage for a while. Train yourself to “play” extrovert. Start by trying to play extrovert in just one part of your life. Try acting as if at work or in social situations. It’s ok to start small.
Acting as if will get you through the initial uncomfortable stage. Even if your mind is racing, wondering what people think of you suddenly being outgoing, train yourself to act collected. Where the body goes, the mind will follow. Eventually, you won’t be acting as if anymore and just be taking action. It will become a part of your character.
5. Practise Open Body Language
Body language is one of the most important communication tools. A lot can be interpreted from the way you hold yourself. Practising open body language is a good way to begin your role as an extrovert. Introverts tend to have “closed” body language. behaviours like crossing your arms, hunching over, making yourself smaller, checking your phone, or facing away from the group send negative signals to those around you.
You tell a story through your body language. Avoiding eye contact might indicate you are untrustworthy or lying to others. Bad posture is an unconscious method of making yourself seem smaller. Even the direction your feet face during a conversation sends signals to others.
These tendencies are usually subconscious but are a tangible behaviour to work on as you practise extroversion. Open body language shows others you are confident and trustworthy. If you start changing your body language, people will notice the shift in your energy and start treating you differently — even if you don’t feel different yet.
6. Don’t Live in Fear of What People Think
Living in fear of other people’s perception of you is the easiest way to never allow yourself to grow. When you begin the process of personal growth, you have to let go of the fear of what others might say. This is certainly easier said than done, but it’s a good opportunity to act as if.
It is human nature that we want to be accepted and loved. Make a list of all of the compromises you have made and things you have done to win the approval of others. Then imagine what you would have done if you weren’t seeking approval — How would your life change? This is not an exercise in regret but rather a way to understand what impact does it have on your life to fear what others might think of you.
You will probably feel uncomfortable in your own skin as you start exercising extroverted behaviour. It’s likely that you’ll feel like everyone is watching you or wondering why you are acting so strange. It might feel easier to just keep things as they are to avoid what people might say about you.
These feelings are normal for introverts, but they come from irrational fears. If you start to feel this way, take time to notice how you feel, acknowledge that it comes from past behaviours, and let them go. practising this tactic will help keep your head clear as you work on yourself!
7. Practise Being Vulnerable
Take the risk of showing your true self to others. People value honesty and openness in relationships. Think about it: If you think someone is fake, you are less likely to develop a relationship with them. Being vulnerable does not mean you are weak, but instead, holds a special power.
Learning to value vulnerability is especially hard for introverts because introversion can often originate from a fear of rejection or failure. Introverts tend to feel most comfortable and at peace when they are alone — if they are isolated, there is no chance someone will reject you. However, it is important to break down those barriers on your journey to becoming an extrovert.
As an introvert, you choose to believe that sheltering your true self will allow you to have better interpersonal skills. You might believe that if a person knew what was really going on in your head, they would push you away. By having your walls up, there is no way the other person can hurt you, right?
Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly went through her own exercise in expelling fear and embracing vulnerability. Brown found that themore vulnerable you are with someone, the more likely you are to find a connection. When you start to break down your walls and view vulnerability as a strength, you will begin to create stronger relationships with others and gain confidence through connecting with them.
8. Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help during this journey! Voicing your quest for personal growth might seem terrifying as an introvert, so start by letting your small circle know what you are trying to do. It is important to develop a support group to help you through this process, no matter how small it is.
This group of people (or person) will become your greatest asset during your extrovert practise. Ask them to hold you accountable. Tell them what your goals are for this week, this month, or even a year. This way, you will have people who are regularly checking in with you and will be able to give you constructive feedback. They also work as a great “dummy” group for practising your new skills!
9. Set Attainable Goals
Start your extrovert exploration by setting goals that you know you can achieve. Your new mindset won’t grow overnight, so you have to be patient with the process. Give yourself a chance to succeed. For example, don’t sign up to do a stand-up comedy show right away. Try setting goals like asking 5 people how their day is going. Maybe invite someone to lunch?
Small goals are sources of motivation. If you “fail” during your first attempt at extroversion, you might give yourself an excuse to give up! If you start small, you will learn to have confidence in social situations. For example, if you are able to successfully meet your goal of asking 5 people about their day, the next time it won’t seem like such a big deal.
You will also be able to learn and acknowledge what your limits currently are and which areas you could push a little harder in. Eventually, you will find your perfect level of extroversion. Don’t confuse attainable with easy: Being uncomfortable during this process is necessary. If you set yourself up to make your path easy instead of attainable, you will never truly grow.
10. Don’t Try to Change Who You Are
We can’t stress this step enough. This is not a guide to change your personality. The point of learning extroversion is not to let it take over your true self. This is why the first step to developing self-awareness is so important.
Self-awareness will help you harness your new skills and apply them to relevant situations. There is nothing wrong with who you are! You think before you act or speak. You are a great listener. You don’t need outside things to make you happy. You are loyal to those you let in. The self-aware and reflective tendencies of an introvert are too valuable to hide. Instead, treat this list as a way to learn how to let your introverted light shine. Don’t forget that extroverts have a lot to learn from you too.
By practising self-awareness, creating a willingness to learn, and developing a few extroverted habits, you will start to see the benefits of extroversion in your daily life. Even though keeping things to yourself is a normal trait of introverts, it is important to remember to share your value with the world.