Why there's an extrovert inside all of us
ALTHOUGH life is rarely as simple as labelling anyone as either an 'introvert' or an 'extrovert', the majority of us do have a proclivity for either introversion or extroversion.
Being an introvert in this sense of the word has its merits but there are times in our professional careers where it pays to be more extroverted.
An introvert doesn't become an extrovert overnight; but there are several steps they can take to bring out their more extroverted side.
1. Be Open-Minded
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It's difficult to draw out of yourself a personality trait that you perceive negatively. Too often introverts will stereotype extroverts as noisy, disorganised and 'crazy'. Open your mind to the idea of extroversion as something positive. Write up a list of all the extroverts you know and whom you get on with or at least respect and admire. Identify the qualities that you like in these people. You'll realise that many of those characteristics are to do with their extroverted personalities – so being an extrovert isn't, in fact, all bad.
2. Adopt Opposite Behaviours
Practice behaving like an extrovert until it comes more naturally to you.
At work, have a go at drawing attention to yourself and your workspace by putting pictures on the wall or a packet of biscuits on your desk. In fact, any kind of food on display will draw more colleagues than usual to you because, let's face it, we're talking about free food here.
3. Act the Part
A lot of stars of the screen and stage are actually quite introverted. It's only when they assume the role of a fictional character or impersonate a real person, that they find that the freedom of a different persona gives them license to become more extroverted. The impressionist and comedian Jon Culshaw, for example, comes across as rather shy in certain interviews, yet he is one of Britain's most successful performers. Even if you are not inherently outgoing, you do have what it takes to play the game and put on a performance as an extrovert.
Think back to your school plays or drama classes and what you did to immerse yourself in a role. Don't make the mistake of thinking you're being fake – you're simply putting the adage 'act it until you believe it' into practice.
4. Learn from Others
In any given group of people there will be a mix of introverts and extroverts. There are extroverts present in all your personal and professional networks, whether it's your social circle of old university pals or your team at work. Watch these people closely to see what they do differently and learn from their actions.
5. Know Thyself
Explore who you are and what makes you different from others. You can be the same sex, in the same age band and from the same social class as someone but be completely different to them. Don't assume that just because you are in the same demographic grouping you behave like them. Being aware of what makes you unique will help you understand how you come across to colleagues, employers, interviewers and recruiters. This in turn helps you to identify and isolate areas of your personality that you can improve upon.
6. Encourage Other Introverts
What if the introvert in question is not yourself but a member of your team?
Any experienced team leader, especially one that chairs a lot of meetings, will tell you that you must watch introverts very closely and make the effort to consciously include them, as they're not naturally going to speak up.
Offer protection to the quieter ones around the table by reminding the more extroverted ones to be inclusive. Give introverts time to speak.
Whenever someone is about to interrupt or talk over someone else, ask them to be quiet and listen and ask the other person to keep talking.