I was listening to an audio book the other day and the author mentioned a few times about how introversion is a choice, or something psychologists have ‘diagnosed’ people who have a hard time talking to others.
I was taken aback.
This isn’t what introversion means, is that what people think introversion means?
Introversion doesn’t mean that we don’t like or don’t know how to talk to people. Introversion simply means that we get our energy from time spent alone.
In saying that, I do know that the need to think things through before speaking is important to more introverted souls and something that we can struggle with sometimes – especially when in new environments or when we’ve been put on the spot.
So here are six tips for talking to new people:
Be Open To New People
I know, I know, this might seem a little 101 but I also know that we can have a tendency to approach new people and new situations with armour on. This is coming from a place of understanding, not judgement! I remember one of my colleagues left a job where we were the only two in our office. The day the new girl started, I was so closed off to being friends with her that I think I prolonged our inevitable friendship for a couple of weeks before realising she was basically my soul mate.
What are you missing out on by being over protective of yourself or your energy?
When you find yourself in new or unfamiliar environments, what can you do to be 100% committed to connecting with one new person? One person isn’t draining to introverts – 10 people, yes – but if you’re using your introverted nature as an excuse to shut yourself off from the world and other people, you might find that it impacts your life, business, career, and opportunities on a much bigger scale.
I’m an INFJ who people used to confuse for being more extraverted than I am – it happens a lot because INFJs have extraverted feeling energy. But, once upon a time, I was timid and shy. I didn’t like to speak up, I hid away from the world. This wasn’t to do with being introverted, this was about being unconfident and scared to be seen.
Even if you only have the energy to be open and friendly for a little while, you might let one person see you and connect with you. And they could end up becoming your closest friend, your new business partner, or even a new client. But it’s never a possibility if we close ourselves off from others!
Look For Opportunities To Connect With Someone One-on-One
In a big busy room, I’m the first person to start inadvertently moving towards the exit. It’s often too loud, too much stimulation for my senses, and just not that much fun to be smooshed into a room full of people. Even in smaller social gatherings, it can feel awkward to insert yourself into someone else’s group or conversation.
So that means best to avoid these situations altogether, right? Nope. Especially if you’re trying to build a business, or your career, being in social situations is just part of the job.
Instead of making an excuse to get out of it, how can you create an opportunity to shine in your own way?
I went to an event for women in business just last week and did feel awkward at the start when people were already standing in groups talking. I looked for body language from the people near me to see if they were inviting me to join the conversation, and when I made contact with one lady, she stopped talking to invite me to join in.
I personally find one-on-one much easier than being part of a group. I feel like I struggle to know when to speak up because I don’t want to interrupt or speak over someone, but I also want to offer something to the conversation as well. The whole thing can be a little anxiety-causing and while I still do it when required, I think that talking to someone else who is standing on their own is much more natural. It means you can have a meaningful conversation, you can ask questions, and you can create a deeper connection than standing speaking in a group where you never really get to know anyone.
Prepare Or Refer To Your Go-To Jokes or Conversations
This is dorky AF and I’m giving away a top secret here, but I find having go-to jokes or conversations the perfect way to either avoid or participate in small talk. I’m not a small talk person, in fact, I’ve naturally become an expert at segueing small talk into more meaningful conversation.
Something I’ve also found helpful is having go-tos. Especially in your job, if you have to deal with different people but often about the same thing, having little jokes or questions that you call on time and time again can be priceless. No one knows you’ve said the same thing to 10 different people, but you might get a laugh and ease into the conversation or situation.
If you naturally play conversations in your head anyway, why not make use of that skill and put it to work? Try and avoid pre-empting the other person’s response if you can but, just before meeting with new people, it can’t hurt to run a few topics, ideas, or questions over in your mind before you get there.
Find Common Ground
If jokes aren’t really your thing, maybe it’s a conversation starter you know you can speak comfortably about. Movies and TV are always easy for me because I’m a film geek and it tends to be a subject where you can find common ground with most people.
It’s actually surprising how easy it can be to get into a good conversation with someone you don’t even know just by bonding on a TV show you’ve both seen or a movie you love.
What subject do you love talking about and could talk about it forever?
That could be your starting point.
If that’s not your thing, what else can you suss out from the other person that you might have common ground on? Asking questions not only allows you to do get some background information, but it also means that they can talk while you listen, and that’s often an even better way to converse with someone new – get them talking about them so you don’t have to do so much talking yourself!
Take Your Extravert Wing-Person
You know that I love extraverts. And one thing they do easily is talk to other people, make connections, and feel energised in the presence of others. I learned about the ‘extraverted wing-person’ from Denise Duffield-Thomas and it’s perfect for situations where you might just need a little extra support.
If you’re going somewhere like a networking event or a conference, take an extravert you love with you! They will naturally work the room, talk to others, and hang out where all the action is happening (possibly while you’re outside or in your room taking a people-break) and then when you rejoin them, they can introduce you to all their new friends.
Who do you know that you can take with you next time you’re going to be a big event as your extravert wing person?
Learn to Protect and Manage Your Energy
What are you most afraid of when you’re around other people? Is it what they will think of you, being awkward, or just running out of energy? I totally get that because I’ve definitely experienced all of those things! When you learn to protect and maintain your energy from being drained or influenced by others, you’ll find you have more energy!
You stop stressing and worrying about the little things and can focus more on the experience in front of you. You will eventually still want to go home, but you’ll feel good about doing so and you’ll leave knowing that you got the most out of the situation you were in!
I used to always worry about getting too exhausted or drained by going to big events. But I know that when you’ve taken care of yourself and learned how to look after your energy, there’s a way to go out and feel protected and energised even if you’re around other people.
What are you worrying about or what’s draining your energy?
Awareness of your energy (and where it’s going) is the best first step. You can also try energy healing, such as kinesiology or reiki, visualise drawing your energy back to you, or even learn to strengthen your energy field so that you can be out in the world and be your best. This months’ Secret Society digital box contains a eBook I wrote called High Vibin, with a corresponding playbook and has some insights, tips, and info about how to look after your energy! Be sure to check it out if you are interested in learning more!
Your introverted side doesn’t have to be the reason to stay home, have no friends, not be able to get clients (because you have to talk to people to get clients…). In fact, it shouldn’t be holding it back in any area of your life.
Is it holding you back in your life?
Are you using it as an excuse to not do things that seem a little challenging or uncomfortable?
It’s okay if you are, I think we probably all do it sometimes and now that introversion is becoming more widely discussed in the mainstream, this misunderstanding of what it actually means to be an introvert can easily be used as a mask to hide behind, an excuse to explain inaction and staying small.
But if you can start to expand your comfort zone, start connecting with new people and use your introverted nature to your advantage, you’ll never shy away from opportunities, and you’ll start to see big changes in your life. I know it.
Leave a comment below and let me know if you’ve tried any of these, or which one you found the most useful! And, if you know anyone who might find this article useful, please share it with them! Let’s mobilise as many introverts as we can to step up and shine in their own way!