It’s a common misconception that introverts have poor social skills. In truth, introverts can be very skilled at socializing. When we have the energy, many of us innies are highly engaging conversationalists.
Since introversion is not the same as being shy, introverts can be confident and even bold in their ability to approach people. But, like anyone else, we might also have areas that could use some improvement.
Maybe you have trouble approaching new people. Or perhaps you feel awkward in group dynamics. Wherever your social skills seem to be lacking, don’t get too down on yourself about it.
Socializing is a skill. No one comes out of the womb knowing how to make small talk (babies can’t talk period, silly!). So, if socializing is merely a skill, it makes sense that we introverts can master it. In fact, introverts have an edge when it comes to becoming a social genius. Allow me to explain:
Focus and obsession
I’ve noticed that a lot of introverts (myself included) have a tendency to have hobby obsessions. What I mean is that we find something we’re really interested in and then we OBSESS over it for several months, or even years.
If we’re into a certain religion, we’ll read the holy book cover to cover and get our spiritual on like a boss. If we love partners dancing, we’ll practice until we’re pros (that’s what I did with salsa). If we’re into art, we’ll lock ourselves away and dive into our creative work for hours on end.
Side obsessions lead to mastery. This is good news for introverts who want to become social geniuses. Follow your natural inclination towards intense focus and obsession and you’ll have great social skills in no time.
A major aspect of becoming a social rock star is knowing how to pick up on subtle signals from others. You need to be able to read people’s body language and facial expressions. Otherwise, you won’t recognize when someone is genuinely interested, or just being polite.
You won’t know if they’re leaning in because they like you or because you’re mumbling and you need to speak up. You’ll be totally clueless about the fact that they really have to go pee and they’re looking for a way to politely exit the conversation.
Luckily for us introverts, we’re known for having awesome observation skills. We notice subtleties that others miss. One thing to point out here is that some introverts might be highly observant of things in their environment, such as the paintings on the wall, or the color of the baseboards, etc. While others are more tuned in to other people’s moods and emotions.
I’m someone who rarely notices subtleties in my environment. Ask me the color of the walls in my favorite restaurant and I wouldn’t be able to tell you. Crazy, right? BUT I’m exceptionally good at reading people’s facial expressions, body language and overall energy.
No matter what you’re naturally inclined to ‘tune into’, you can teach yourself to notice social cues. You choose what to focus on.
Quick tips for improving your social skills
If you want people to like and accept you for who you are, you have to actually know who you are. You don’t want to go walking around as just another drone, or parrot, or cookie cutter. You want to embody the spark of uniqueness and authenticity that comes with deeply knowing who you are and what you value.
Pay attention to feedback
As stated early, most introverts are keen observers who notice subtle signals from other people. You can probably tell if someone is not at all interested in you. If one or two people you approach have zero interest in getting to know you, it could just be that they are jerks.
If almost everyone you talk to seems bored or turned off, it’s time to do a little course correction. One reason for their disinterest could be that you are in the wrong social setting. You can sink or shine depending on the environment. Choose a venue that reflects your values, interests, and temperament.
You also might need to make some tweaks in your appearance, approach, body language, and/or conversation skills. If this is the case, know that it is possible to go from social pariah to genius with study and practice. And it DOES NOT mean that you are a loser.
Focus on your major motivator
Did you know that many comedians taught themselves to be funny because they were bullied or didn’t have many friends? Yep. It’s true. Avoiding getting a punch in the face is a pretty good motivator to learn a new skill – and learn it fast.
If you want to improve your social skills, try focusing on the underlying ‘why’ behind your goal? How will having better social skills make your life better?
Another way that you can motivate yourself to learn quickly is by turning your efforts into a game. Set a goal for how many people you will introduce yourself to in one day and celebrate when you hit the mark. Not everything has to be so bloody serious!