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Why Being Both Extroverted And Introverted Is Good For You

Why Being Both Extroverted And Introverted Is Good For You

Variety is the spice of life- and I believe that when you possess the characteristics of being both extroverted and introverted, you find yourself on the fast track to living a more balanced and successful life.

Growing up, I was known as “The girl with no filter”. I liked to talk a lot. I spoke my mind, considering any notion of whether the time and place rendered it appropriate, irrelevant. I loved being the center of attention. I cracked jokes and spoke loudly. I wanted to see and be seen. From psychologist Carl Jung’s perspective, I would be considered extroverted, through and through. I get my energy from being around people. I love public speaking and have no issues with walking into a crowded room full of strangers.

Jung coined the terms ‘extroverted’ and ‘introverted’ in the 1920s. Introverted people are defined as being shy and reticent. People with extroverted personalities are said to be outgoing and socially confident. Extroverts get their energy from being around other people. Introverts get their energy from being alone. However, we have to understand that we really the characteristics of both extroverts and introverts to survive. You can read more about Jung’s psychological types here.

We live in a high-speed, in-your-face society. We’re pressured to pursue things harder, better, faster, stronger (as the Daft Punk song explains). As we try to keep up, we’re riddled with social anxieties, depression and other mental illnesses. We need to slow down. But how do we face these challenges in a better way?

By being ambiverts! Sprinkle in some social stimulation and a dash of spending time alone, and- voila! You are now a more even-keeled, happy individual.

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In her eye-opening novel, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain examines how we live in a world dominated by extroverts. Extroverts are championed for being social and outgoing. We’re pushed to take centre-stage.

Upon reflection, as I grew older, I found that being the loud-mouthed social butterfly was starting to get tiring. I was sick of putting my foot in my mouth. I was literally sick after weekend benders. Making plans with everybody all the time became a chore. Some would call it a quarter-life crisis- I’d say it was time to grow up.

I would still say I’m an extrovert, but now I enjoy the blissful habits of being introverted, too. I stay in on weekends, I can’t get enough of reading a great book, and I’m far more in touch with my feelings and the feelings of others. I now proudly find myself to be both extroverted and introverted: an ambivert.

The more I learn, the more I realize the importance of emotional and behavioral flexibility. It allows you to connect with people from all walks of life, but more importantly: yourself.

Here’s why being an ambivert is good for you:

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1. You’re a phenomenal communicator.

Knowing when to slow down and listen, or ramp up and make your point, will make you a better leader, lover, and friend. It will also make you happier, and add more balance to your life.

2. You’re extremely adaptable to whatever is thrown your way.

You’re like an emotional chameleon, able to adapt to different scenarios by calling on your knowledge of how both extroverts and introverts tend to act.

3. You don’t fear change.

The only thing constant in life is change. You embrace the uncertain because you know you can handle it.

4. You love a good social outing, but also love quiet time at home just the same.

You feel energized when you’re with people you care about, but you also understand the importance of recharging with quiet time when you get home.

5. You know when to speak up.

You know the importance of standing up for what you believe in.

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6. You know when not to speak up.

You understand that in some situations it’s best to be a passive listener and sit quietly while the other person speaks.

7. You’re assertive, but not too overbearing.

You know what it takes to get things done, but you’re not pushy or rude about it.

8. You know when to observe and when to respond.

You are successful in many social situations because you are able to read cues and be an active listener. This helps you to know what kind of behavior is appropriate in different situations.

9.You know when to push and when to stand back.

Sometimes you have to let people know you mean business, but you’re okay with admitting your faults and standing down in a conflict.

10. You’re flexible.

Not the kind of flexible where you can touch your toes (but maybe this fits you too)- but you’re able to go with the flow and not get wound up in taking things personally or making it all about you.

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11. You’re emotionally intelligent.

Because you’re an ambivert, you know both sides of the story; you are aware of other people’s feelings, as well as your own.

12. You’re a people-pleaser, but you also know when to say “no”.

Making other people feel good makes you feel good, but you also know when someone is trying to take advantage of you.

13. You know that being both extroverted and introverted is badass.

To learn more about why being an introvert is awesome, watch Cain’s TED talk, The Power of Introverts. To learn how to speak up and take on conflict, full-frontal, watch Margaret Heffernan’s talk, Dare to Disagree. 

Ambiversion is often overlooked and undervalues, but together we can share the beauty of being both extroverted and introverted- and make for a more ambiverted tomorrow!

Featured photo credit: Fisheye + Ringflash + Pub = via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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