I’ll be honest, I’m no introvert. Never have been. I’ve loved socializing my whole life, and I’ve never had trouble talking to new people. "Wired” this way since birth, as a child I thought everybody was like me, but I grew up and I wised up.
I realized that some people are terribly shy, so much that it can be paralyzing and significantly affect other aspects of their lives. I’ve watched from afar as shyness has kept people from making new friends, socializing with co-workers, meeting their soul mate, and assuming leadership positions. I even know someone who is so socially awkward, this person doesn't know how to reach out to their own family members.
Our psychological health is just as important as our physical wellbeing; if someone is introverted and it’s affecting their personal and professional life, then by all means they should cultivate their social skills because it will lead to improved self-confidence, which in turn will translate into more meaningful relationships – both personal and professional.
After all, nobody wants to be that quiet guy or gal standing alone at the party or business networking event with their drink in hand, afraid to approach people or strike up conversations. That’s just no fun.
If you’re a self-proclaimed introvert, or if you were the designated shy person in high school, I'm curious: Have you ever watched how warm and friendly people circulate around the room with ease and confidence?
Ever wondered how on Earth they do it? Well…ask and ye shall receive. For us extroverts, the following comes naturally to us, but I’m going to break it down for those who could use a little help in the people department.
- Smile and say hello.
It sounds simple, but I've noticed how so many shy people have trouble getting past this first step. When you make eye contact, smile and say hello, it makes the other person feel comfortable around you. When a shy person looks uncomfortable around me, it makes me a bit uncomfortable! Even if you’re uncomfortable around people, practice making eye contact, smiling, and saying hello to them. If you have to – please fake it for the rest of us!
2. Try harder to remember people’s names.
I admit, I’m terrible with names; I'm more of a visual person. Since I have to work harder, I'm always trying to make a mental note of people’s names. When you remember a person’s name, it shows them that you care about them. It goes a long way. If you forget their name the first few times you see them, that’s OK, we have so much information to remember, it’s understandable, but do put a conscious effort into remembering people’s names and use their names when you see them; it will put a smile on their face and make them feel warm inside.
3. Find something to comment on.
As an artist and writer, I’m naturally observant and I when I’m near people, I can’t help but comment on a friend’s new haircut, or on someone’s cute dog, on the beautiful weather, or on the amazing cheesecake that somebody brought into the office.
If you’re searching for an ice breaker, all you have to do is find something to admire about the person (as long as it’s appropriate) or you can comment on the weather, or something going on in community that everybody seems to know about, like the new Starbucks going up down the street.
As an extrovert, I do these things naturally and I do them with tact. You don’t want to say anything negative or bring up something controversial, but it’s not that hard finding something you can both relate to, even if it’s the fact that you and the person in front of you drive a Chevy!
If you have children, you can ask the other person if they have kids and if so, you can ask them their ages. I can guarantee that you can have a whole conversation about raising babies, toddlers or teenagers, especially teenagers. Same goes for other popular topics of interest, such as sports, pets, travel, working out, etc. Essentially, if you talk to the person for a minute or two, you can find something to relate to.
4. Treat people with respect.
This may seem like a given, but too many individuals are impolite and it rubs people the wrong way. Some people don’t treat others with respect unless they’re in their “inner circle,” and this can be bad, especially if the individual is in management or otherwise in business. Even if someone is an introvert, they can still go out of their way to be polite and respectful.
It’s harder to successfully lead an organization or even get that promotion if you treat lower-level employees as if they’re unimportant. Can you imagine how many more great leaders we’d be cultivating in our own companies if everybody led like Richard Branson and Tony Hsieh? These great leaders treat all of their employees like family, and their company culture is thriving because of it.
5. Be more like Grant...Cardone that is!
I had the pleasure of meeting Grant Cardone once when I was living in California, years before he moved to Florida. He had just given an inspiring speech and afterward, he circulated around the room, introducing himself to people. He was truly present and interested in each participant that he spoke to. I was touched by it.
I’ll never forget how kind Grant was. I quickly joined his email list and followed him on Facebook. As he began publishing books and becoming more successful, he didn’t let fame get the better of him.
On Facebook, Grant didn’t hesitate to reach out to anybody and everybody. He’d say things like, “Hey, I’ll be in Las Vegas, anybody need my help?” I truly believe that his compassion for people and his total willingness to help is what sets him apart. If you want to be successful in your personal and professional life, be more like Grant.
Whether you're naturally introverted or extroverted, make a conscious effort to acknowledge everyone you come into contact with. Whether you’re walking past the janitor at your 5-star hotel, or the receptionist at your office, look them in the eye, smile, and say “hello.” These simple gestures will make all the difference in how others perceive you, and more importantly, how you feel about yourself.
Elainna Ciaramella is an independent journalist, business blogger, and ghostwriter for entrepreneurs and business professionals nationwide. She has written extensively on the topics of business, entrepreneurship, law, and medicine. She is well-versed in search engine optimization, content marketing, and social media. You can connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and Instagram.
Originally published on LinkedIn.