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12 Reasons You Should Stop Feeling Guilty Of Being An Introvert

12 Reasons You Should Stop Feeling Guilty Of Being An Introvert

When you’re an introvert, it’s challenging to live in a world where extroverts set the social standards. I know this first hand because I have an introverted personality. It’s not that I don’t like people. On the contrary, I love to socialize and to hang out with friends and family, but for an introvert it can be mentally and physically draining.

If you’re an introvert, you might analyze and judge your actions because you feel as if you don’t fit into the same mold as extroverts. For example, in the past I’ve felt guilty about my actions, such as avoiding eye contact, escaping small talk or screening calls. I worry that I’m offending others or that I’m perceived as being socially awkward. However, when I learned that we as introverts have unique qualities that are just different from extroverts, I began to accept my ways of interacting with others.

If you’re like me and you occasionally feel guilty about your actions from your introverted personality traits, here are a few things you should know about introverts that make us unique, extraordinary and purely awesome people.

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1. We might think we’re outsiders, but up to 50% of people are introverts.

Nobody wants to feel like an outsider. Introverts like spending time alone, but we don’t want to feel alone in our world. It’s comforting to know that up to 50% of the United States population are introverts. Thus, we as introverts are in good company. Many of the most successful entrepreneurs, actors and politicians are introverts including Mark Zuckerberg, Meryl Streep and Hillary Clinton. Hence, it’s not necessary to be an extrovert to excel in fields that are typically perceived as only suitable for those with outgoing personalities.

2. While we might be quiet, it doesn’t mean we’re not great listeners.

Introverts are phenomenal listeners. In my experience, colleagues, friends and family members often approach me to express their feelings and to request assistance. Introverts carefully examine situations before speaking. When we’re ready to speak, we’ve considered all the views and alternatives. Our responses might not be lengthy, but they’re right on point. Because we vigilantly assess what’s being said and study non-verbal cues before expressing our views, we’re solid partners when solving problems, generating creative ideas, making plans and working in teams.

3. We don’t always do the happy dance, but we’re genuinely happy and appreciative.

I have an extroverted friend who will bust out in a happy dance just from hearing a favorite song. Everyone knows when she’s feeling joy because she openly demonstrates it. We as introverts are not as gregarious when we’re happy. We might even appear ungrateful and this can make us feel guilty. Understand that we have the same deep feelings of joy and appreciation of extroverts. However, we’re more reserved and show our feelings within the boundaries of our comfort zones.

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4. Just because we don’t tell stories at parties, it doesn’t mean we can’t script an epic tale.

The author, John Green is quoted as saying, “Writing is something you do alone. It’s a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.”

Green nailed it. Writing requires quiet, solitary surroundings, such as musty libraries and closed office spaces where we can conjure up deep thoughts and reflect intensely. Introverts are excellent storytellers, but we tell our stories through writing. Brilliant writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and William Faulkner were introverts and in some cases were considered reclusive, but it never stopped them from being thought-provoking storytellers.

5. Even though we avoid phone calls, it doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy conversations.

For introverts, making and receiving calls requires a lot of energy. Many of us screen our calls, even from friends and family, and we feel guilty about it. This action results from our need to conjure up the energy to have a conversation, especially when we’re over-stimulated from a busy day. If you can relate, accept that you just need some downtime to prepare for your calls. Understand that once you’ve mustered up enough energy, you’ll be happy to spend the time conversing.

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6. We might spend time alone, but it’s not because we don’t have mind-blowing relationships.

What’s fantastic about being an introvert is we’re very comfortable spending time alone. In my own personal experience, solitude helps me to be more self-aware. Introverts can form terrific relationships because our frequent introspection supports our ability to form an accurate perception of our character, feelings and behaviors. This self-awareness helps us understand how our behaviors affect others and we become less guarded. In turn, this knowledge and understanding feeds and grows our relationships.

7. While we tend to be less social in person, we rock it online.

Introverts can have serious swagger online. Whether it’s on social media, blogging, gaming, online dating, email or other online outlets, we’re typically comfortable when using these channels. It’s just easier to be sociable online than it is face-to-face. Why? These interactions are less draining to introverts because non-verbal communication is detached, we have more time to process our thoughts and we can write our views instead of verbalizing them. In fact, introverts can outshine their extroverted counterparts online because of these dynamics.

8. We might be guilty of not joining the company softball team, but it doesn’t mean we’re not athletes.

As an introvert, when someone mentions bowling I want to hide in a corner. Many introverts tend to shy away from high-energy team sports, such as rugby, softball, basketball or even bowling. While we might not enjoy team sports, many introverts are excellent athletes. We have outstanding hand-eye coordination and we enjoy complexity. Golf, track, cycling, archery and tennis are ideal for introverts. The lesson? Stop feeling guilty about declining the company team invitation, and pursue sports that suit your introverted personality.

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9. You might think we’re snobs, but we’re actually just happy being in our bubble.

Many times in my life I’ve felt guilty about being labeled as a snob or stuck-up because I’m not the most social person. However, after people get to know me, they understand that I’m just comfortable in my own bubble. As it might be more difficult to get introverts to open up, once you pop our bubbles, look out! We’ll share our deepest thoughts, tell jokes and talk up a storm. Introverts are very loyal so you might even find a best friend for life.

10. If we decline your invitation, it’s just because we need to recharge.

The energy of an introvert is comparable to our cell phone batteries. After a day of email, texting and talking our battery simply dies. We need time alone to meditate, exercise, be with nature or just think. If you’re an introvert and you feel guilty about declining an invitation, understand that you’re doing the right thing. Accept that being overstimulated can take a toll on your mind and body. If you need the time to recharge, take it.

11. We avoid big music festivals, but it doesn’t mean we don’t like concerts.

Austin, Texas is a mecca for live music and the Austin City Limits music festival is one of the most exciting music festivals in the world. When I lived in Austin, I felt guilty because I only attended this festival one time. Introverts like me don’t like crowds and attending a festival with 450,000 people is overwhelming. I learned to accept this personality trait and I no longer feel guilty about it. When I attend concerts, I don’t purchase general admission tickets. I splurge on VIP or seats up front where I know the crowd will be controlled so I can make an easy escape if I get overwhelmed.

12. Our circle of friends is small, but our relationships are meaningful.

As an introvert, do you ever feel guilty that you don’t have a large number of Facebook friends? The reason for this is introverts focus on fewer, more meaningful friendships, rather that hoarding shallow ones. Stockpiling friends doesn’t make us better and more interesting. Thus, being popular is not always something for which we need to strive. What’s important is we have a few friends that we can call at any time of night or day and get help if the need ever arises.

Featured photo credit: 162/Mitya Ku via flickr.com

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Marilyn Rogers

Marketing Consultant | Content Strategist | Freelance Writer

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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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