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Being shy and being introverted are often used interchangeably. But, many introverts do NOT define their personality as shy – nervous or scared to interact with others, especially in group settings. Instead, introverts will tell you that they CAN indeed interact and socialize, comfortably, with others; but, it’s not their preference.
The intro in the term introvert is the key. Introverts are typically very introspective: they spend a good deal of time in self-analysis. They examine their own thoughts, preferences, perceptions and observations to gauge their life’s direction and make life choices.
So, introverts are NOT simply timid individuals, who do not possess social skills. In fact, many successful public figures will admit that they are more introverted than extraverted.
Introverts are quite capable of developing and exuding strong personalities and publicly exhibiting their distinctive characteristics without fear. However, there are a few key factors that introverts need to consider as they attempt to develop and display their personality to the world.
The five (5) elements discussed below are ones that I think are essential to the aim of introverts to take charge and exhibit a secure and strong personality:
How Introverts Can Develop a Strong Personality
1) Self-Acceptance – “If it don’t fit, don’t force it!”
The first advice to introverts who are aiming to develop a strong personality is to simply accept your personality type and work within it. Don’t try to change the basic tenets of your personality.
Don’t try to become an extravert. Don’t try to become a social butterfly or the life of the party! Any such attempt is bound to explode at some point as it will take way too much effort and energy to try and keep up the façade – and that is exactly all it would be.
Instead, mold the star qualities you possess. Work hard to strengthen your positive characteristics and keep your weaknesses in check. Become an expert in areas you care about. Expertise is usually the best method for silencing critics.
When you have developed expertise, you will find that you have also increased your credibility. This in turn elevates your comfort level to speak up, knowing that you are NOT likely to be shaken by challenges or criticism as you are operating from a position of strength and authority.
2) Take advantage of your innate ability to listen – actively.
Another way that introverts can quietly become a take charge leader and display a strong personality is by using a skill that is usually second nature to introverts – active listening.
Active listening is the ability to focus full attention on what is being communicated, such that you remember all of it and can ask questions. This is to ensure you have a full understanding of the information presented and its intent.
This shows the person with whom you are interacting that you are engaged and you are keenly aware of what they are trying to communicate; thereby, building trust and alliance.
As an introvert, take advantage of this innate ability that extraverts must work so hard at developing. Use it to your advantage. This is the skill that will allow you to build, foster, and nurture relationships.
Relationship building results in opportunities to show your qualifications and use your skills; which will lead to openings, possibilities, and chances to be in the forefront instead of in the background.
3) Prepare; but stop over-thinking or over-analyzing situations.
Introverts will surely admit that they are NOT spontaneous individuals. Instead, they respond more effectively when they can prepare and plan.This is strength, so use it as such.
Make the effort to document your ideas, thoughts, and concerns. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to analyze your efforts. Map out the steps that lead to “how” for those things you desire to accomplish. But remain cognizant so that you don’t go overboard or get mired in details and stress on potential obstacles.
When your analysis begins to get too complicated, breathe – step away from it, and remind yourself that simple is best. Still, be sure to prepare as much as possible. Even when you don’t use all your material, you will find that having something builds your confidence and gives you a springboard to wing it, if even for a moment.
At the same time, if things do not go as expected, don’t over-think the why. Accept criticism or even failure. But put it in perspective by relating it to the specific situation or project, instead of seeing it as some personal attack against you, or some shortcoming that you can never overcome.
Don’t scrutinize every comment you hear to try and decipher some planned strike against you. Often, these are simply figments of your imagination brought on by your fear and worry that you don’t fit in.
As you develop a strong personality, prepare for social situations. For example, research and learn about those you may encounter. What are their like and dislikes? What have they accomplished? Or even simply find out where key participants are from, or find out some unique tidbit about the location or theme of the event.
Just find some information that you can hang onto to start a conversation with or to interject in the social communication.
4) Build a small, but strong support circle.
Introverts prefer one-on-one interactions, or small group socializing. So, solidify and bolster advocacy by using some of the skills we previously discussed (primarily, active listening, expertise building, and preparation).
You should take hold of every opportunity for individual exchange to sort out those with whom you are most comfortable, and with whom (based your assessment) you are not only compatible, but you feel a natural affinity for.
Once you have done that, you should cultivate strong relationships with these individuals. By doing so, you will surround yourself with key allies and helpers who can, and will reinforce your convictions. They will also aid you in increasing your self-confidence, or help you become more self-assured.
This will not only increase the likelihood of you stepping out of the shadows into the spotlight, but will give you the boost you need to embrace accolades without feeling awkward, as well as deal with criticism without feeling humiliated.
With a strong support system or circle of friends and family, you will always have someone to call on to. They will fortify you as you deal with the challenges and decisions you must handle while developing a strong personality.
5) Be present – don’t isolate yourself.
Recharging and replenishing are activities that many introverts need to do in solitude so that they do NOT become overwhelmed, because they are required to participate in a barrage of activities and events, or face many people.
The recharging effort helps bring introverts back to a calm state, where they feel rejuvenated and ready to face the ongoing challenge of socializing and interacting in group or social situations, as well as in public arenas.
Introverts should make every effort to set specific recharge time and opportunity for themselves. But, you must be honest with yourself and never use the need to recharge to avoid interaction or socializing. While your solitude is necessary, you have too much to offer to hide out from the world!
Introverts can have a strong personality, too. Accept your personality as it is.
Participate through active listening, prepare and plan (within reason), lean on your community of advocates, take time to re-energize; but, endeavor to stay connected and be present!
Never isolate yourself out of fear or to escape a challenging situation. Never cut off focus and tune out the world.