Note from KW: This is a guest post from Aaron who writes at Freedom and Fulfilment about various aspects of personal development. Topics include mindset, habits, getting girls, lifting weights, introversion, psychedelics, and spirituality. You can find out more about F&F here and follow him on Twitter here.
How much of an introvert’s social handicap is actually just limiting beliefs?
This has been on my mind a lot lately. I think introverts too often fall into the trap of making excuses rather than actually trying to address their issues.
While I am extremely introverted (comfortable going ~3 days without talking to a single person), I’ve also managed to develop pretty good social skills. With some effort, the ability to have large circles of friends and acquaintances has become part of my personality.
Something I’ve realized is that being introverted can actually be an (indirect) advantage in a lot of social situations. Here are a few ways:
The Halo Effect
Provided you look good/interesting and you don’t talk much in social situations, people will actually be more interested in you than others who “spill all the beans”. The so-called “Halo effect” is strong when you appear cool/interesting from the outside and make a good first impression, but people don’t really know much about you otherwise.
(How do you appear cool/interesting from the outside? Learn how to sell yourself.)
If you are an introvert who’s just getting started with the whole personal development thing, it’s often easier (and faster) to look good from the outside than it is to actually develop social skills and deeper personality traits. For me at least, it was much easier to have good style, go to the gym, and improve my body language than to actually learn to talk to people.
Because changing things on the surface can be quick and easy, it might take a little while for your personality to “catch up”, but this is fine. Changing the outside isn’t a problem so long as you do address the inner issues in the long term. Anyway, I think this is an often overlooked, counterintuitive sort of advantage.
Many people will like you (a lot) if you just listen to them (or seem like you are)
If you can get good at listening to someone in a conversation (as an introvert you probably already are), then many people will absolutely love talking to you. It’s easy to nod, smile, say “right” “uhuh” and ask open ended questions, while the other person does the majority of the talking.
A person will talk for 90% of the time without being aware of it, and then afterwards feel like they’ve had an amazing conversation with you. While this might seem disingenuous, it actually suits the both of you and sometimes it’s all you need to do to develop great rapport and relationships.
For guys: You seem “mysterious” to girls
“What are you thinking about?”
—Every girl lying in bed with an introvert ever
In general, being closed off is probably not a good thing. But if you don’t naturally reveal a lot about yourself, then people (especially girls) will be interested to know more about you.
Similar to the Halo Effect, if girls like you before they really get to know you, they will be curious and want to “figure you out”. You seem mysterious or something similar and they want to know more because they’re attracted to you.
People think what you say is more important when you speak less
If you don’t talk much but people respect/like you otherwise, then they will be very interested in the things you do have to say. What you share will be valued more highly by others because it is scarce. And chances are, if you do talk rarely then the things you say are actually pretty valuable.
The best part of all this is that none of it is fake or contrived. As an introvert you probably genuinely don’t feel like talking (especially not about yourself), but as I’ve described here it can definitely work to your advantage.
What if you actually want to be more open as an introvert?
Your perception is not like the average person’s
As an introvert, your perception of social output is probably different from that of the average, extroverted person. What do I mean by this?
Let’s say you share something with a person or group that to you seems very personal or like a lot of information. Relative to what other people are used to it won’t seem like a lot to them.
The average extroverted person puts a lot more of themselves out into the world than an introvert does. This means that what feels normal to you in terms of social output doesn’t seem normal for most people.
I used to work at the gym at my university, and one time I had a shift with a new guy who didn’t talk much either. We were sitting there in silence and I kept thinking, “Why isn’t he saying anything?” It actually felt pretty weird until I realized This is what it feels like being around me.
So while the amount you talk might feel normal to you, it doesn’t seem like it to others. The positive side of this is that you probably never need to worry about being too open.
The more open you are, the better your life is
Being more open provides opportunities for connection and reciprocity with others that wouldn’t otherwise exist.
When you share your experience, people get to see the struggles or difficulties you’re encountering on your path. You might be surprised at how willing people are to help once they know what it is you want or need. But in order for this to happen, you have to put yourself out there first.
At the same time, by being open about your experiences you help other people as well. Whatever it is you’ve learned, someone out there can probably benefit from it. Don’t underestimate what you can offer to the world.
Forgive me while I get spiritual, but the more you open yourself up to the universe, the more you allow it to flow through you and to you. It’s a two-way street; you get what you give. The more you put yourself out into the world, the more the world will give back in return. But it always starts with you.
Practice being more open bit by bit
Like everything in life, this won’t happen overnight. It’s a journey and a process.
A girl I was seeing used to joke that I was like a clam because I was so closed off. So I always pictured being more open as like prying open a clam. It’s gradual and slow and often uncomfortable.
You might find that when you talk to the right people (ironically often other introverts), it’s much easier to be open. Or maybe when you try being open, you’ll start to get used to it and it will become easier as you go.
Anyway, with incremental progress, one day you’ll find that what’s hard for you is now easy. What’s more, your life as an introvert will only get better along the way.
What do you think? Has this post provided you with a different perspective? If you’re introverted, what do you think about being more open? Anything you would add to my suggestions? Let us know in the comments section below.
What do you think? Do you agree, disagree or have any thoughts to add? Let me know in the comments below.
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