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12 Details to Thoroughly Understand Introverts

12 Details to Thoroughly Understand Introverts

Once again, we come back to the topic of introversion versus extroversion, which has been popularized by author Susan Cain in her book: Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. In her work, Cain conducts a large amount of qualitative research, mostly in interview form, of successful people who consider themselves introverts. Combine this with growing thought chains on where people draw their energy (as in the E versus I section of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), and there is more to know about introverts than ever before. For that reason, we’ve compiled some the findings to help you understand us introverts.

1. We don’t dislike people — we dislike group-think.

The first thing to know about introverts is that we actually love people. Small group or one-to-one conversations with an introvert will make this clear very quickly. We truly do enjoy the company of others. The difference is that we have to be in the proper circumstances to appreciate each person’s uniqueness, and when people get into groups they act differently and tend to purposefully blend together in group-think. That’s where introverts struggle.

2. We focus on single-person tasks easily, and aren’t doing it to hide from people.

Introverts typically have very strong hobbies, and what separates them from hobbied extroverts is that we do not give any thought to others before we engage in the hobby. We actually just like reading, painting, writing, video games, computer coding, HAM radios, Magic the Gathering, or whatever else. The fact that other people might like our hobby too never occurs to us.

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3.  We think about mundane entertainment much more than others.

If you ever ask an introvert about their favorite movie, their eyes are likely to light up. We adore certain movies, while commonly thinking that most of pop culture is generally terrible. For example, I hardly ever go to see new movies in theaters, but if you ask me to explain the philosophy of determinism via The Matrix, the historical accuracy of Gangs of New York, or any single line in Fight Club, you should buckle in, because I’ll be talking for way too long.

4. We often misunderstand body language.

For years, and even into present, I have not understood other people’s body language. For me, this manifested most obviously with girls–a hand on my bicep never registered as a suggestive gesture; if the girl never said anything about enjoying my company, I would always miss the signal. When talking to introverts, be sure to be direct, because, for us, the value is often in words and not other signals.

5. We question authority.

Introverts, even when sitting compliantly in the back of class or in a meeting, are always thinking rationally through problems,and, so, when a problem is solved through emotion, we love to pick through the solution logically, often missing the greater good of the group in the process.

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6. We have to rationalize shopping in stores, or else we hate it.

Some people love the arrangements of clothes or the deals to be had in stores, but introverts have to find a way to think about the benefits of actually going to a store for “deals.” Most stores are built to purposefully overwhelm, so introverts would rather shop for everything from cars to underwear on the web.

7. We are the ones who engage in single-player sports.

Tennis, rowing, fishing, biking, golf, and especially competitive running are often populated by introverts. When we don’t have to worry about others, our minds can focus for very long times, so it’s natural that we use that focus to excel in sports where no other people can break our concentration.

8. We mechanize our day.

People are creatures of habit, but introverts even more so. For me, several days a week go exactly the same, down to the same time showering and the same lunch eaten. This simply creates less tangible obstacles to thinking more, so we fall into routines easily.

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9. We are certainly fine being the center of attention — but not for too long.

At parties, I find myself the center of attention often, and I love it, and then, all at once, I don’t. I legitimately have a breaking point, past which I cannot stand being the center of attention, and I can tell when I’m going to reach it, and I adjust accordingly. Similarly, famous actors such as Russell Crowe and Jim Carey — larger than life, charismatic figures — are the same way. They put on the face on camera, but, once they’re done, do not bother them. They can’t stand it.

10. We know ourselves better than others.

As I said above, I know exactly when my “people overload point” is coming, and I know how to deal with that. Further, introverts often spend lots of time in their heads, and therefore have a strong sense of self and the needs that come with that. Extroverts wouldn’t dare think about themselves so much.

11. We are concerned with ideals and like to work to create them.

Introverts love helping people, not because we love people, but because they love the idea of compassion and sympathy. We love when the court system works properly, because we love the idea of justice. We love cheesy movies, not because we like poor dialogue or hastily contrived plots, but because we love the idea of true love. There’s a difference between enjoying the people and enjoying the idea the people represent, and introverts love the latter.

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12. We think more than EXTROVERTS could ever dream of.

Introverts cannot turn of their brains. It doesn’t work like that. Still, could anyone who has read this far imagine an extrovert writing something similar. Further, how many of you still reading considers themselves an extrovert? Not many? That’s what I thought.

Featured photo credit: I Live Inside My Head/Jacqueline Murray 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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