Being shy and being introverted are often used interchangeably. But many introverts do not define their personality as shy. Instead, introverts will tell you they can indeed interact and socialize comfortably with others, but it’s just 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 extroverted.
Introverts can develop and exude strong personalities and publicly exhibit their distinctive characteristics without fear. However, they need to consider a few key factors as they attempt to develop and display their personality to the world.
The five (5) elements discussed below are essential for introverts to take charge and exhibit a secure and strong personality.
1. Self-Acceptance—“If it doesn’t fit, don’t force it!”
The first piece of advice to introverts who aim to develop a forceful personality is to accept your personality type and work with it. Don’t try to change the basic tenets of your personality.
You don’t need to become an extrovert. 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 keep up the facade.
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 develop expertise, you find that you have also increased your credibility. This elevates your comfort level to speak up, knowing that you are not likely to be shaken by challenges or criticism because you’ll operate from a position of strength and authority.
2. Take advantage of your innate ability to listen actively.
Another way that introverts can quietly become take-charge leaders and display a strong personality is by using 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 ensures you have a full understanding of the information presented and its intent.
This shows the person you are interacting with that you are engaged and aware of what they are trying to communicate; building trust and alliance.
As an introvert, take advantage of this innate ability that extroverts must work so hard to develop. Use it to your advantage. It will allow you to build, foster, and nurture relationships.
Relationship building will cause opportunities to show your qualifications and use your skills, which will lead to openings, possibilities, and chances to be at the forefront instead of the background.
3. Prepare but stop over-thinking or over-analyzing situations.
Introverts will admit that they are not spontaneous individuals. Instead, they respond more effectively when they can prepare and plan. This is strength, so use it!
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 gets 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; even if for a moment.
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 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 likes and dislikes? What have they accomplished? 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 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 skills we previously discussed (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 on your assessment) you are not only compatible with, but feel a natural affinity.
Once you have done that, 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. 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.
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 a group or social situations.
Introverts should try to set specific recharge times and opportunities 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 strong personalities too. Accept your personality as it is.
Take part 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.