1. Social Confidence and “Extrovert Skills”
“I used my extrovert skills.” “I had to learn some extrovert skills.” “Oh, well, I don’t have extrovert
skills.” I hear these phrases all the time – and they drive me crazy.
When did the ability to be socially graceful or to display good manners become the sole province of one
group of people, one temperament?
Good social behavior is within the reach of every human being, no matter how quiet or even shy you may
be. As an introvert, you may need to protect yourself from too much stimulation, but you shouldn’t
protect yourself from connecting with others.
The problem, many introverts assure me, is that it takes too much energy to relate to others. Well,
anything you don’t know how to do well takes more effort and involves more stress. Swimming, running,
public speaking, cooking a Thanksgiving turkey … the list is endless.
Here are a few simple reminders:
When meeting other people, look them in the eye at the same
time you shake hands. (Don’t extend your hand and then
glance over the other person’s shoulder as you say hello.) Use
their name, too. According to Dale Carnegie, nothing is sweeter
than the sound of your own name.
Give the other person a chance to shine. Even if you’re
networking, don’t focus so hard on your elevator speech that
you fail to draw out information about the other person. Listen
intently and be appreciative. (This is an especially good tip if
you don’t think you’re good at conversation. You don’t have to be. Become a great listener and you’ll get
a reputation as a great conversationalist.)
Throw some positive bouquets. For example, we all err on the side of thinking that someone needs to do
something extraordinary to be worthy of thanks or even praise, yet someone who consistently performs or
behaves well, time after time, needs to be told how important this is in order to stay motivated.
These small affirmations can create long-lasting bonds. People may forget what you said, but they will
never forget how you make them feel.
And protecting yourself from social interaction? A bad idea. According to a joint report from
Carnegie Institute, Harvard University, and Stanford Research Institute, only 15% of success is due to
your technical skills. A whopping 85% of your success is due to social skills! You spend years of hard
work and tons of money acquiring degrees and expertise, and your only return is 15%? Well, no,
employers tell me that those technical skills will insure that you keep the job; but the social skills are what
get you in the door so that your expertise can be appreciated. Those social skills are well worth
Lynette Crane is a Minneapolis-based speaker, writer, and coach. She has more than 30 years' experience
in the field of stress and time management and personal growth. Her latest book is The Confident
Introvert, written to help introverts overcome the stress of living in a culture that idealizes extroversion,
so that they can thrive, and not just survive.Visit her website at http://www.creativelifechanges.com/ to
see more in-depth articles and to view her programs.