Your confidence is nowhere to be found. Flown the coop, just when you need it most. Oh, the irony! Perhaps you have a networking function and you’re freaked out about speaking up, maybe it’s a job interview, or just a coffee date. Your best ally has gone MIA. You try all the standard mumbo jumbo about how to be more confident, more self-assured, how to finally grow that spine, but, if you’re at all like me (or the me I’m shedding like last year’s snakeskin boots) you feel even more anxious; shaken to the core, and quite unsure of yourself. Get a grip. All that hokey advice just doesn’t work for you, and there is a very good reason…you are an introvert. (in any variation)
Take heart my quiet ones. Even extroverted introverts (yes, we’ve been through this, there is such a thing) are misunderstood. Are you an introvert? Do any of these sound familiar?
- Raising your voice (ok, shouting) over people to be heard just isn’t your thing.
- You love being social; you love to get out there with and party and then, suddenly, you have the urge to be home. In pajamas.
- An overloaded and busy calendar feels like punishment for a past life.
There is a ton of OTC advice on how to be more confident, and it does work for a lot of people. It may only make them seem more confident, but as an introvert, trying to improve your self-confidence by following this type of advice often leaves you feeling more self-conscious than ever. Pretending to be who you are not eats away your confidence and devours self-esteem. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to being more confident. We are all unique, with different life stories and challenges, but for the introvert, some common advice conflicts their true tendencies.
And so… I give you the myths and the real truths about building confidence. (If you’re an introvert, but extroverts can learn something too!)
- Smile. This says “I’m relaxed, confident, and easily approachable. But to the introvert, sometimes we don’t want the whole world to approach, to engage in conversation, or to look for deep connections. By trying to wear a permanently enthused smile, there are some seriously confusing messages sent to others about how involved you are comfortable being. Keep your confidence boosted by preserving your quiet space instead of pretending to be a 24 hour drive thru line.
- Speak up! To get along, you’ve got to speak up, right? In today’s fast paced world, people need to hear you over all the “noise.” And they need to hear you fast. But if you’re introverted, trying to speak louder feels really uncomfortable. Someone who speaks quietly, and only when they have something to say, can command greater attention than the loudest, most vocal person in the room.
**A side note: Mahatma Ghandi never raised his voice, and a whole nation heard him perfectly well.
- Eye Contact. Remember the staring contest? You know – who can stare longest without blinking? Winning this supposedly shows that you are confident, and have nothing to hide. Well, in real life it can be embarrassing. You feel like a weird stalker, hanging on every word, but hearing nothing because you are totally obsessed with winning the staring contest. Don’t totally avoid eye contact – people will think you are very shy or very guilty. It’s way more intense than words can ever be. If you’re reserved, make that stare as natural as possible for your own confidence to flourish.
- The Power Pose. Similar to eye contact, your body language says more than your words. “Power poses” include: the way you sit in your chair, how you stand – legs apart, hands on hips, etc. and how you rest your hands on the table in a meeting. Power poses release hormones that boost confidence. I am admittedly an extroverted introvert, and I have taken public speaking. These postures make me feel like a B rate actor onstage in a dying off, off, off-Broadway show. As an introverted human being, the hormone flux that fuels the confidence boost is more than likely to be offset by an increase in stress. Ay yi yi! So instead of trying to contort yourself into unnatural poses, try just being yourself. In your black jeans and DMs. Scary, but it works.
- Stay Busy. The idea of making yourself extra busy to create an image of you being in demand and successful works for some. Not so for the introvert. Being busier means having to engage with lots more people to attract more tasks. Often, you overload, and become too busy doing everything badly, rather than doing one thing well. And FYI, quiet people like to do a good job. It’s critical for our confidence. So don’t volunteer to be the go-to girl for any and every project, become the one to call when the job needs TLC.
So peeps, let’s sum this up. We are told that louder is better, that it makes us stand out- win. And this is why we all hope that good advice is the answer. But it’s not one size fits all. Stop seeing ‘quiet’ as the broken link in your chain mail. You’ll see your confidence rise like a hot air balloon (OK- maybe not the best analogy, but it’s late peeps) Your own unique version of confidence is quiet. Make amends, be at peace with this. Introverts can rule the world, after all it says, “And the meek shall inherit the earth.”
Stay Motivated and Caffeinated!😉☕