Almost everyone knows if they are naturally introverted or extroverted. But in a group of people it may not always be that easy to tell them apart. In fact, introverts, and even very shy people, can become outgoing. Because being outgoing is a skill, and skills can be learned. Furthermore, they get better with practice.
If you are very shy, or unsure of yourself around others, here are some simple tips to help you become more outgoing.
When you are shy it is just so easy to look down, or away, and hope no one sees you. Sometimes you may even want to disappear. So you stare at your shoes.
Looking up is a small step, but a crucial one. It will help you stand a little straighter, which boosts your confidence, and helps you breathe. Breathing is really important when you’re nervous, so take advantage of a little more air.
Practice making eye contact.
Your head is up, you’re looking ahead, and someone is there. You see someone non- threatening, an older person or maybe a child. Make eye contact when you feel you can. It can be quick. You can look away, it’s okay. But don’t look down. Just take a breath and survey your surroundings. After all, the person is just someone in your view.
This simple gesture relaxes your face, and you can continue smiling even if you move your eyes away. You can smile in another direction, and then return. You can smile at your own thoughts, and then make eye contact again.
When you smile, and you relax, it is easier to move around a room. You can smile at multiple people, then when you feel comfortable…
If you are usually terrified at talking to people, say one “hello” and then you can move on if you like, and practice smiling in different situations.
If you are doing okay with hello, add “how are you”, and ask someone about themselves. You would be surprised how far you can get with a few simple questions. Asking people to tell you about themselves allows them to do most of the talking, and all you have to do is listen.
Listening is a more important skill than talking.
If you are sincerely interested in people, it will show in how you listen, and people will enjoy being around you. You become more comfortable asking gentle questions, and when they tell you about themselves, you realize they won’t bite.
Listening is also a skill that introverts tend to excel at. They may simply be more interested in what other people have to say. Some extroverts, on the other hand, can be more interested in themselves and the sound of hearing themselves talk. In extreme cases, a really talkative speaker may not even care if his audience is listening.
Being a good listener gives you an edge.
When you enter a room full of strangers, or people you barely know, take pride in your new listening skills. Having pride means you have something of great value to offer the people you meet. Having pride even helps you hold your head up.
Practice on neutral ground.
Practice going out every day, smiling, and saying hello. Smile at the barista, the sandwich maker at the lunch counter, sales clerks in the mall.
Progress to simple small talk, “how are you, lovely day,” or give genuine compliments wherever you can. Say “hi” to your grocery checker and call her by name, before she gives you her canned greeting. You may find she suddenly treats you like an old friend.
The more you practice the simple art of being friendly, the easier it becomes.
Finding an organization where people get together to serve others offers excellent opportunities to meet people without the need for extensive conversations. People will mostly be talking about the project at hand.
Serving food at a shelter or soup kitchen is a wonderful place to practice simple heartfelt greetings, while fulfilling a need to do something worthwhile.
Building for Habitat for Humanity gives volunteers just about enough time to say their name and occupation, before talk turns to “can you hand me that hammer,” or “we need a pair of hands.” It is hard not to be outgoing when you are share in putting up a wall.
Whatever service you do, you gradually become better acquainted with those you serve with. Conversation becomes more natural, and you may meet people from all walks of life.
Practice creates habits.
Continuing to practice starting conversations with people, and really being interested in who they are and what they have to say forms a new habit of friendliness. In time, you may wonder how you could ever have spent time looking at the floor, when looking at smiles is so much more rewarding.