Learning to Win as an Introvert in an Extroverted World
Extrovert-privilege is a real thing. The way our world is set up favors those who have big voices, outgoing personalities, and can handle social situations with ease. For introverts, the decisive, charismatic confidence of an extrovert can make it seem impossible to succeed in their careers, relationships, or sometimes even life in general. However, this is far from the truth. Introverts make up more of the population than you may think— because of their quiet, introspective nature, they often go unnoticed. Introverts are competent and have ideas that need to be shared; instead of waiting on the world to adapt to their more reserved nature, here are some tips for introverts in reaching the success they deserve in an extroverted world.
1. Fake it until you make it.
Personally, I’d call myself an introvert. I usually keep to myself and keep time for myself after a day of socializing. I need time to think about decisions I make, which can often times make me seem indecisive. I’ll raise my hand in class if I am comfortable with the people in it and my professor, but if there’s a chance that I could be embarrassed, I usually remain quiet (even if I know down deep that I have the correct answer).
My mom is an extrovert to the max and communications professor— which meant that growing up, she’s tried grooming me into learning extrovert ways that will help me succeed in life. Her biggest piece of advice has always been: “fake it until you make it.” If you project that you have confidence, you’re already half-way there.
Faking confidence usually includes: sitting up straighter, making eye contact, slowing yourself down, speaking louder, and getting rid of “hedging” words. Hedging is common in introverts and is when you begin a sentence with something like “I’m not sure if this is a good idea but…” or “I don’t think this is right but maybe…” Own your words because more often than not, you’re right.
Practicing fake extroverted habits can pave the way for genuine confidence and sure-ness in your actions and in your identity. Getting comfortable putting yourself in uncomfortable social positions will help you immensely in succeeding in an extroverted world.
2. Know who you are.
This may seem like an insignificant tip, but is probably the most important. Knowing the situations that you’re comfortable in and uncomfortable in will help you navigate through life. You’ll know when you’re out of your comfort-zone and may need to work a little harder to get your voice out compared to times where you are around people you trust and can be unapologetically yourself around.
Knowing that some days, you might need to go home and self-reflect, journal, watch a movie, or be by yourself is fine! Recognizing a day where you have more confidence than usual and then going out with coworkers is also fine.
Be in touch with your emotions, social tendencies, and levels of self-confidence. This will guide you through your decisions and keep you grounded. You can’t fake it every day; it’s important to understand your level of comfort and let yourself recharge when you have to.
3. Write, write, write.
If speaking isn’t your thing, but you have great ideas, don’t let them go to waste! Write, journal, and email about what you think and want and know. Online, it doesn’t matter whether you’re an introvert or an extravert— online screens give everyone a voice no matter who they are (which can be both good and bad). Use your writing to take your time, gather your thoughts, and put together a well thought out response/idea. Writing doesn’t require impulsive or pressured replies, when you write you can word everything exactly how you want it.
Using your writing as speaking points will give you confidence to project your thoughts, without fear of articulating poorly, or embarrassing yourself, or forgetting what you have to say. Writing can give you the confidence to understand what you are thinking in a more concrete display and give you confidence to say it.
There’s no reason that an introvert cannot be successful in an extroverted world. Although it can be tough to get past the discomfort of speaking out, sharing ideas, and potential criticism, introverts need to be heard and taken account for. Faking confidence until it becomes genuine, knowing your strengths, weaknesses, and abilities, and also articulating thoughts through writing are all effective strategies to give introverts the voice we deserve.