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5 Things You Should Know About Introverts

5 Things You Should Know About Introverts

The word ‘introvert’ has a lot of negative connotations today, particularly when we look at the Western culture that deifies extroversion as the social norm. In every aspects of our lives, the idea of being a hugely social, lively, chatty person who feeds off the energies of others and spends huge amounts of their free time and energy socialising.

Obviously this isn’t the case for everyone but there seems to be a bit stigma around introverts, moving from childhood ‘shyness’ into the adult moniker of being a ‘loner’ and all the connotations that come with it of being friendless, hating people, being the buzzkills of the party… and on and on it goes.

However, being an introvert is just the flipside to being an extrovert and while the modern world might not be built around us, we’ve got plenty to offer. Here are the key five things you need to know about introverts and being friends with them.

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1. Silence around an introvert is okay.

When an introvert is being silent, this is totally alright. We’re not upset, we’re not distressed, believe or not we’re kind of processing everything. Kind of like when a laptop is doing a virus and systems check, we might dip out of proceedings for a while, but then we’re fine again.

Point in fact, when we’re alone, we’re pretty silent anyway, so believe us when we say that it isn’t you. Introverts will dip into the conversation as and when we like but if you try pushing us, you’e just going to make us uncomfortable.

2. The ‘grumpy resting face’ isn’t a bad thing.

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resting face

    The famous resting face which makes people think you’re not having fun. “What’s wrong?” is the most common example of the reaction to an introvert’s expression. Believe it or not, nothing’s actually wrong, it’s just the way our faces are hanging.

    It sounds really silly, but chances are if you know a friend is a bit of an introvert, then they’re going to listen more and take in more than they put out. Therefore, while they’re dealing with processing everything, we really are listening and we’re not upset. Being quiet and having a bit of a moody expression – or if not moody, then just sort of expressionless in itself – doesn’t mean we want to be left alone or hate the party. We’re just taking it all in in our own way.

    3. Introverts do not hate people.

    We don’t hate people. Simple as that. Theres this common misconception portrayed by a lot of the media that if you’re not out every night with a new date on your arm or a drink in your hand, that somehow you hate people and hate socialising and all that jazz. Rubbish. Introverts do enjoy having fun with people and we do like actually going out to places.

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    The only difference is that we like to be in control of what’s going on. Going to the cinema? Give me at least a few hours notice so that I can mentally schedule some relaxation time with the TV in when I get home. I love people, I really do, as I suspect do most people, but the idea that introverts are these big misanthropes is a bit of a negative cloud that affects the perceptions of introverts.

    4. Taking a break is sometimes needed in social situations.

    take a break

      If an introvert is at a party or a social gathering or whatever, chances are that we’ll need to take a break every so often just so all of our social mojo doesn’t get drained througout the evening. We’re not talking a big fifteen-minute excursion away from the party but even five minutes outside can be enough to get us already to get going back into the swing of things.

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      Why do we need this, you might ask? Well, it ensures that us introverts don’t get so overwhelmed that we stop having fun, because we do enjoy having fun at parties. We just need a little break every so often just for a breath of fresh air, both physically and mentally, and if it gets us back on the dancefloor quickly, then surely that’s no bad thing?

      5. Introverts are all about the recharging.

      The key thing you need to remember about introverts and extroverts is this: we just recharge in different ways. Think about two different types of battery: a solar-powered battery and a regular phone battery.

      The solar-powered battery thrives from being out in the sun all day and being out doing things. It builds up its energy and keeps it going all night. The phone battery gets slowly drained out and about on a daily basis and so needs charging when you get home and you leave it alone.

      Extroverts recharge their energy by being around other people and social interactions while being alone drains them. Introverts are simply the opposite. Social interactions, however fun and awesome which they are, drain our battery limit and so we need alone time or relaxation time to charge ourselves up again.

      In short: introverts love people and parties and going out just as much as extroverts do. We just need some alone time to recharge ourselves back up to full and optimum working order. That way, we can be right alongside you when the party’s in full good-time-mood and that’s the way  I like it.

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      Chris Haigh

      Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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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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