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7 Steps To Embrace Your Inner Introvert And Not Feel Bad

7 Steps To Embrace Your Inner Introvert And Not Feel Bad

Have you ever done a personality test? When I got the results of my Myers-Briggs last year I had an epiphany. INFJ all the way. Of course, I’m an introvert! Are you an introvert as well?

Unfortunately, the excitement over my new insight wore off quickly and was replaced with worry: Does that mean I suck at networking? How can I ever be successful if I’m not a people person? Will all my friends abandon me if I embrace my introvert personality?

If you’re an introvert like me, you probably feel bad about yourself quite often, because you think your personality is holding you back in life. But over the course of the last 9 months I found plenty of reasons that that’s not true. I discovered 7 ways how you can embrace your introverted personality and feel great about it, here they are.

1. Listen to music when you leave the house on your own

As an introvert, I often walk around outside alone, for example to the pool to go for a swim or to shop for groceries, or even just take a walk. I found that listening to music makes me a lot more confident. You can listen to your favorite songs and get pumped on the way to the gym, or play a funny game called eye-gazing: you look people in the eyes as they pass you. Don’t look mean, smile, but look them in the eyes and don’t look away. You’ll see most people will avert their gaze faster than you do!

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It’s a great way to boost confidence and make you feel great about who you are. Dance your way through the streets, not caring what anyone thinks. You’re an introvert and you’re just fine.

2. Use social media. A lot

Remember how everyone always says social media aren’t all that social, because now people just stay in and socializes on their computer? This is what makes them perfect for us introverts! You can talk to and connect with millions of people – without having to leave your living room.

Imagine having 20 people in your house, exhausting, right? But talking to 20 people throughout the day on Twitter, Facebook and even Skype, that can be fun! You can reach out to old friends or get to make new ones, learn tons of new things and find mentors, without having to say a single word, if you don’t want to.

3. Start something creative, and be bold in creating

Have a passion project, for example a blog, an Instagram account where you take photos, or write a book. When you create you can be as bold as you want to be. Your imagination knows no limits and none of the limits that others might put on you matter when you quietly work on something that shows your genius.

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I chose to start a blog and it’s been great fun to write for myself, for other blogs and try all kinds of content to grow it and create something valuable that helps people. This is your chance to show the world your brilliance, passion and even become an authority. Those who teach are always perceived as experts. A lot of people who might criticize you at work, will commend you for what you write on your blog, giving you a confidence boost and showing you that you DO have a story that’s worth telling and showing the world.

The world is split into consumers and creators. Becoming a creator is one of the best ways to feel great about yourself (whether you’re an introvert or not).

4. Pick up a solo sport

You know exercise is important, and maybe you even do sports with your friends on occasion already, but chances are a team sport is not for you. Even if you play one, a solo sport can be a great way to balance things out.

For us introverts exercising solo is one of the best times to think, so get a treadmill, buy a ticket to the pool or pick up yoga, running or another sport you can do all by yourself. It’ll just be you, your thoughts and maybe some music – you’ll feel great during and after!

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5. Say no to meetings you don’t want to do

Especially for business, people love to do in-person meetings. Everyone just gets together and chitchats. These meetings are often much more about socializing, than they are about solving a problem. Often there’s a much faster way that doesn’t even require a meeting to take care of the problem.

So when you feel like a meeting won’t help you make any progress, politely decline and suggest an alternative solution. The same is true for meeting with your friends. Do it as often as you like, but never be afraid to say no when you don’t want to. You’ll always be glad you did it afterwards.

Do you know that awkward feeling in your stomach after you said yes to something you didn’t want to do? This will make it go away.

6. Inspire yourself by reading books about famous introverts

You’re not alone. There are many introverts out there in the world, who have become wildly famous and successful. You just need to surround yourself with them. Books are a great way to do this. For example “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, “Quiet! The Power of Introverts” by Susan Cain or the Sherlock Holmes series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are a good start.

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All of these people are introverts, but they didn’t let that stop them and neither should you.

7. Come up with a powerful mantra

A mantra or affirmation is a short little statement you can recite to yourself over and over again. For example this can simply be you, standing in front of your mirror in the morning, telling yourself: “I’m an introvert, and I’m great the way I am. My life is my message to the world and I’m going to make it inspiring in my own way.”

You can also develop a very short mantra that you can repeat to yourself before difficult situations, for example when you’re about to enter your office in the morning, such as: “I am strong.” or “What I do matters.” Just repeating this one sentence over and over again for a minute or so will program your subconscious mind to live the words throughout the day.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via images.unsplash.com

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Niklas Goeke

Student, Technical University of Munich

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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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