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10 Things That Introverts Have The Hardest Time With

10 Things That Introverts Have The Hardest Time With
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The fact that I’m writing this from the confines of my bedroom with only my cat around to distract me should be enough to convince you that I’m an authority on introversion. This is not to say that I avoid people at all costs, or am some sort of misanthrope. I definitely enjoy the company of good friends and my family. However, there are many conventions of modern society that introverts just don’t buy into, including the following activities listed below.

1. They don’t enjoy always being around people

I never really understood the idea of “happy hour.” I just spent nine hours of my day with a group of people at work, and I’m supposed to want to spend more time with them when we get out? I know, it’s a good time to let it all hang out; but really, all I want to do when that 5 o’clock bell comes around is go home and stare at the wall for ten minutes before having to cook, wash dishes, and clean up before settling in for the night. Social gatherings can definitely be fun, but not when they’re forced upon you.

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2. They don’t enjoy small talk

“How about this weather?” “Looks like someone did some grocery shopping!” “This elevator’s always so slow.” Honestly, there has never been a time when something like this was said to me that ended with a meaningful connection. I get that it’s seen as friendly to chit-chat while waiting for a bus, but unless it’s going to end with a new-found friendship or relationship, it’s really just not worth the effort. Now, if I’m wearing a shirt featuring an obscure band or something, by all means approach me since we obviously have something in common, and might hit it off. However, what connection is ever going to be forged based on the fact that we both absolutely hate rain?

3. They don’t enjoy crowds

I love music, and I love going to shows. However, I absolutely dread being in the middle of a pack of shouting (possibly drunk) twenty-somethings when my favorite band is on stage. I came to hear them, not to hear them be drowned out by a group of slurring college students. The same goes for the crowd before the doors open. Since you’re cramped up with a bunch of strangers, it will inevitably lead to small talk. As an introvert, there’s not much worse than being stuck in the middle of a sweaty group of strangers and having to feign interest in a menial conversation that will end up going nowhere.

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4. They don’t enjoy phone conversations

I’ll admit, I’m the worst at talking on the phone. However, it’s because I enjoy listening to what others have to say, and rarely put my two cents in. In person, at least the other person has physical feedback that I’m listening and understanding what their saying, but on the phone, there’s only silence from my end. Of course, there’s also a fair amount of small talk, but I’m sure you’re getting tired of hearing about how much introverts hate that. Texting and email are great boons to introverts because they allow messages to be sent and received without any extraneous chitchat.

5. They don’t enjoy keeping in touch just to keep in touch

Visiting my hometown is great. I get to see old friends, spend time with my family who I haven’t seen in months, and catch up on everyone’s life. But when someone from my past who I honestly don’t miss all that much finds out I’m home, I feel obligated to meet up with them for an hour of “So how’ve you been?” I hate to say it, but it’s absolutely dreadful. The worst is when it’s obvious the other person wants to be there even less than I do, but of course they put on the false-friend face and carry on as if the fact that we went to the same high school means we have some sort of life-long bond.

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6. They don’t enjoy icebreaker activities

Here’s another situation in which you’re forced into meeting and interacting with people. Icebreaker activities in college or on the job are almost exclusively dreaded, even by the most outgoing people. Yes, you do get the chance to find out more about the people you’ll be spending a lot of your time with, but it’s done in such a falsified way that no real relationships ever come of it. Relationships that grow organically are much more meaningful than ones that are forced through silly games meant for 8-year-olds being played by graduate students.

7. They don’t like people making noise just to break silence

Silence really is golden. Like I said, I’m writing this in my apartment, with no outside interference to interrupt me (except that buzz-saw that erupted the second I started this part of the article). I realize when I was living with my parents, I never got anything done because there was always some noise going on in the background. I don’t mean people talking; that’s not something I would complain about. However, leaving the TV on, or putting on a song and then walking away from the computer: that I can’t stand. Embrace the silence once in a while. You’ll get a lot more done.

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8. They don’t like people talking while they’re trying to focus

Okay, I hate to shout her out, but my mom is guilty of this one for sure. I used to test her out with it. I’d be sitting quietly on the couch, and she wouldn’t say a word. Then I’d pick up a book, and within two pages she’d find something to talk to me about. Now, talking to my mother is definitely more important than reading a book, so I never complained. However, when complete strangers or co-workers interrupt you while you’re very obviously focused on a task, that is inexcusable. I’m not ignoring you, but I’m not stopping what I’m being paid to do to talk to you about the game last night.

9. They don’t like people thinking they’re conceited

This goes along with the last entry. Just because introverts don’t feel the need to talk about every little thing doesn’t mean they think they’re any better than you. In fact, it’s usually quite the opposite. Since introverts don’t love small talk, they often aren’t very good at it, and feel awkward when they get into these situations. I sometimes wish I could thrive off human interaction the way others seem to do, but it’s simply not my personality. It really does amaze me that some people can act with people they just met in the same way that I do with my closest of friends. Just because I’m not incredibly outward about my feelings doesn’t mean I’m devoid of them, either.

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10. They don’t enjoy talking about themselves

Introverts love to listen. They want to learn as much about the world as possible. On that same token, they really do not like talking about themselves. During job interviews, my most hated question is, “What’s your best feature?” Even though I know the point of a job interview is to sell myself, I don’t want to come off as conceited (see above), and I certainly know that I’m no better than anyone else. This is because I’ve spent my entire life listening to others and I understand just how much everyone else knows. Perhaps the toughest part of being an introvert is not so much talking about yourself, but rather wishing you were better at talking about yourself.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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