Most people conceptualize introverts as shy, quiet, and reserved. We can be shy, quiet, and reserved, but some of us can also be extremely outgoing given the right time and place.
Talking a lot doesn’t necessarily mean communicating. Just like there can be many ways of expressing art — through painting, telling stories, singing songs, dancing, and so on — there can be many ways of communicating.
Communication is an art, and we introverts may have an unconventional way of doing it, whether it’s talking or listening.
People communicate with you at ease or with difficulty based on the following points:
- Charm — The quality of being engaging and compelling.
- Charisma — The influence you have on people.
- Body language — The way you sit, stand, your posture, etc.
- Mood — Whether you’re happy, depressed, or feeling empty.
- Interests — If you have anything in common with the other people.
- Character — Your actions define who you are.
- Environment — The situation, whether it is a conversation with a big group or one-on-one; a situation of light-heartedness or seriousness.
- Reputation — What they know about you, how they’ve seen you communicate.
These things will affect your own communication or another person’s communication to you — and there may be many more variables. Half of these things are dependent on fate and luck, but the other half make up your response.
Keeping these points in mind, it should help us to evolve our sense of communication.
Introverts are good at listening.
We love listening when a person genuinely speaks about something about which they’re passionate. We hate it when it becomes small talk. Extroverts love to talk, whether it’s big talk or small talk, as that’s how they attain energy. Introverts can talk very little/a lot about things about which they’re passionate.
To evoke this sense of passion in introverts (or extroverts), ask them questions. People love being asked questions, as it makes them feel like the other person is interested in them. When they start answering, it gives us introverts an opportunity to listen. Not by asking, “What’s your favorite color?” but by asking things like, “What do you aspire to be?” or “What are your favorite hobbies?”
Tip: Try to avoid controversial topics, unless you know the other person well. It can cause the other person to take offense, and disagreeing can cause an eternal awkward silence.
If the mouth and the throat are working on a scheme to stereotype us as bad communicators, we can depend on our body language.
Some of us use our body language naturally to communicate, while some of us may have to work on it. If we are awkward in the way we speak, we can make it up by being smooth in our movements. No hunching shoulders, looking self-confident, etc., are all the basics.
I’m not telling you to act like a soldier, but if you build self-confidence within you, a confident posture should slowly come automatically. Take this analogy: eating healthy keeps us healthy from the inside out, while working out is helpful also. So if we build our self-confidence from inside, we’ll develop better body language. Consciously being aware of our body language and correcting it every now and then helps.
Eye contact is probably the most essential thing. It subconsciously makes other people feel like they’re involved, and you are too. Don’t be over the top about staring into the eyes. Eye contact will probably come instinctively if you’re genuinely delighted with a conversation.
Start from the bottom and work your way up.
I find it very overwhelming when I am faced with communicating with a whole group of people. Instead, what I do is start with one person and then let that person introduce me, or I try to ease into a conversation between the person and the other person (but not interrupt). Introverts are better at one-on-one discussions.
Don’t segregate yourself between “introverts” and “extroverts.”
I find myself doing this quite often. Don’t, as this is a restriction of communication. Labels don’t make us who we are, as we are very complex characters. Who knows, maybe you’re trying to communicate with a fellow introvert.
Communication isn’t something that can be taught, but rather understood and learned.