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9 Signs That You Are Actually A Shy Extrovert

9 Signs That You Are Actually A Shy Extrovert

I first took a personality test in junior high.  The results reminded me of Tris’s aptitude test in Divergent. I was exactly on the line, between “introvert” and “extrovert.” And my life experiences reflected this.

I loved being in groups of people and sought acceptance, but I did not like talking or being the center of attention. I was very introspective, but I liked to share my thoughts with other people.

Thankfully, as more research has been done on personality, we are realizing that there are more types than just “introvert” and “extrovert.”  Over time, I would realize that I am a shy extrovert.

Is it possible that you are a shy extrovert as well?  Here are some situations you may encounter, if you belong in this camp:

1.  We are at the party, but we aren’t the life of the party.

Shy extroverts love being in social situations, but we do not feel the need to dominate the conversation.  We may not speak up at the party, because we do not think that our jokes are interesting and because we do not always enjoy talking about ourselves. We also enjoy observing those around us, and we may become expert “people watchers.”

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One way that I have learned to capitalize on this ‘quirk’ is to use my interest in observing those around me as a way to connect with them. Most people do love talking about themselves, and shy extroverts often feel more comfortable when there is less of a ‘threat’ of being judged. So I ask people open-ended questions. When they tell a funny story, I ask them questions about it.  Inquisitiveness is a secret superpower that shy extroverts can hone, and it can provide us with a strong social advantage.

2.  We tend to be great listeners.

Because we are interested in those around us, shy extroverts tend to be good listeners. We are often able to devote a great deal of time listening to those around us, without seeming like we would rather be somewhere else. We are also able to listen deeply to the speaker, rather than just thinking about our next words.

I have found that my ability to listen to those around me (especially as I have learned to ask questions) has helped me to connect with a greater variety of people. I have developed friendships with people from many different walks of life, and I hear all about the ‘drama’ that my friends are experiencing, without being dragged into it.

3.  We are very good at keeping secrets.

Shy extroverts sincerely love listening to other people, and we do not feel the need to become the center of attention. That means that we know everybody’s secrets, but we have no desire to share them in a gossip session.

I have heard juicy, deep secrets from my friends, my acquaintances, and even total strangers in the grocery store line! And I can say that I honestly have no need to divulge these secrets, because I know that the situation is about the person who shared it, not about me. I have no desire to make someone else’s drama my own.

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4.  We love big, loud parties.

Large, but quieter gatherings make us nervous. We do not want to be put on the spot, when we would rather observe those around us and just be a part of things. We are uncomfortable when we are caught between two conversations at the dinner table, or when someone asks us to share something from our personal lives.

What we really prefer is a loud, fun gathering with lots of music and dancing. We can join the crowd on the dance floor, or we can sit down and take in the sights and sounds around us. We love to watch, and we love to be a part of it all, without having to talk.

5.  We don’t need conversation to be constant.

While most extroverts are not comfortable with pauses in the conversation, shy extroverts do not mind them at all. In fact, we welcome the break, where we can take a moment to process and collect our thoughts.

I have noticed that I become exhausted conversing with people who never pause, and that I also become frustrated when someone tries to answer a question for me. As a shy extrovert, I need that processing break. The wheels are turning, and my answer will be well thought-out, because it is not instantaneous.

6.  We tend to have long conversations.

Due to our introspective nature, shy extroverts like to take time to process things. We like to examine everything from every angle and to consider all the possibilities of a situation. And, because we are extroverts, we prefer to do this with someone else there, to bounce ideas off.

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I learned early on, that I loved to write in my journal, but that I also liked someone else to read it, so that they could give their input. It wasn’t that I was seeking approval from the other person; I was wanting a third party to see my ideas and to share their thoughts on them. I still tend to write long e-mails to friends, when I am trying to sort out a situation.

7.  We love meeting up with old friends.

When we haven’t seen a friend in a long time, it can be very exciting for shy extroverts to hear all about that friend’s adventures and learning. We love to watch how people grow and see how everyone matures and changes after a long absence. Add to it the fact that the meet-up is often a one-on-one conversation, and this becomes a perfect scenario for a shy extrovert.

I have found that I am much more comfortable meeting up with one friend at a time, and I do prefer the meet-ups to be somewhat spread out. I love to take a couple hours in the evening to catch up with an old friend over coffee, or to enjoy a short picnic with a visiting friend from my home town.  Hearing other people’s stories has always made me happy, and the stories do become more interesting after a time of absence.

8.  We hate public speaking.

While many extroverts love talking in front of crowds, shy extroverts can’t stand it. Public speaking is everything we dislike. We are the center of attention, we are not able to observe those around us, and we are set up in a position where we may be judged.

I have noticed that I stumble over my words much more when I am speaking to a crowd of more than three people. The lack of immediate response that you receive from public speaking also makes me nervous. If I am not confident, I always assume the worst. I would much rather converse one-on-one, or share my thoughts in writing.

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9.  We need some (but not too much!) time to recharge.

Like introverts, shy extroverts may become overwhelmed in large social gatherings and need some time to recharge. We might stay home for an evening, thinking that we will love spending a great deal of time alone. However, after a few hours, we become restless and start craving human contact.

I have definitely found this to be true in my life. I need my alone time, but then I also need to be hanging out with everyone else, even if I am just observing and asking them questions about their lives.

In the end, the existence of shy extroverts only proves that all of humanity cannot be divided into just two categories. We need to understand (and embrace) the fact that our personalities are much more complex than that. All of our quirks are more than “okay,” and it is really time for all of us to embrace the one-of-a-kind person that we really are!

Featured photo credit: Flicker 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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