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Let’s face it: being an introvert often goes hand in hand with some sort of social awkwardness. Not necessarily because you behave in a weird way (although I do), but because there are situations that you’re simply not comfortable with.
As an entrepreneur, I had to face a bunch of these situations and find ways to make them work for me. Or, to be more accurate, to avoid getting a panic attack every time I have to make social contact with people outside of my comfort zone (a.k.a. everyone besides my boyfriend, family,
To share my newly acquired knowledge about not being socially awkward as an introvert, let’s talk about the three most common problem situations and how to cope with them.
1. How to deal with phone calls as an introvert
I don’t know about you, but phone calls are amongst my least favourite things in the world. When I was younger, I used to avoid them at all cost and make someone else do them for me. Now, I treat them like a necessary evil I need to put behind me as quickly as possible.
No matter how much practice I’ve gotten in taking and making phone calls: they never get easy. And I’ve had a lot of practice, especially since I started my business!
But how to deal with phone calls as an introvert without having a panic attack every time?
First of all, you need to determine whether you even need to take the call. For me, the answer is simple: if it’s an unknown number, I never pick up. Unless it’s a landline from the town I live in, then it’s almost always business-related.
When I just started my business, I tried accepting all calls. But it’s not worth spending 30 minutes trying to convince a random woman that you don’t need a savings account because you’re too polite to just hang up.
Plus, “real” callers often leave a voicemail if you don’t pick up. That way, you can get the message without even having to make conversation. It’s a win-win, right?
Now, let’s talk about the actual call.
Whenever my phone rings, I get that sinking feeling in my stomach that only goes away if I see that it’s my boyfriend calling. But accepting a call is like jumping into cold water: it’s better done quickly to reduce the suffering.
Don’t spend minutes staring at your phone and risk the caller hanging up. Calling back is even worse than picking up! Just press the accept button and get it over with.
The same goes for when you need to make a call. Anytime I need to make a call during the day, I’m unable to feel calm until it’s over. If you’re the same, don’t procrastinate and get it done as quickly as possible!
2. How to talk to strangers as an introvert without feeling weird
There are plenty of situations that require you to talk to strangers. For instance, when you’re ordering food, asking for directions, or making those phone calls we just talked about!
I’ve written a whole post about small talk tips for introverts already, but I find that this is different. It’s less about making conversation and more about a simple exchange of information. In a non-awkward way, if possible.
First of all, you can’t let yourself chicken out of these situations because you’re uncomfortable. Even if you struggle with shyness in addition to being an introvert. It’s okay to feel the way you do, but you can’t let it stand in your way.
As Susan Cain stated in her book Quiet, introverts do like to be prepared and do worse when they have to improvise a situation. There is no harm in preparing what you will say in advance. It seems silly, but I like to walk into a store or restaurant knowing exactly what I need to say. It makes me feel much calmer and less uncomfortable.
In addition, it’s sometimes nice to imagine what another person would say in this situation. When I’m in an awkward social situation, I imagine myself in someone else’s shoes and just act
And my last tip is to smile. Because even if you completely failed the “not acting weird” part, at least people will think that you’re a friendly weirdo. And that’s better than nothing, right?
3. How to engage in introvert activities in public without feeling self-conscious
As an introvert, I love to read, write and do other creative hobbies. But doing these things in public often makes me feel quite uncomfortable. Like sitting in an airport reading my newest self-development book, or, even worse, a psychological evaluation of serial killers. Please don’t look at me weird.
I often plan to work on blog posts or other articles on the train but end up being too self-conscious about the personal stuff that I’m writing. What if someone can see my computer screen? I don’t care too much to post stuff on the internet for people to read. But them seeing me writing the whole thing is somehow much worse.
And when I’m trying to casually work on some graphic design on a plane, I suddenly become really aware of my complete lack of creative skills.
Longs story short, I apparently didn’t overcome my shyness as much as I thought and still care way too much about what others think about me. But how to cope with that?
First of all, I suggest finding a quiet corner with as little eyes on you as possible. There’s really nothing wrong with wanting to be to yourself!
My grandpa always puts newspaper around book covers. To protect them, he says, but I find it weirdly practical to be able to read a book without showing off what it is. I don’t use covers for my books, but I like to put them on something so that you can’t necessarily see the cover.
And when it comes to people looking at your computer screen, I only have one tip: be proud of what you do. No, really! I do feel uncomfortable when someone reads my blog posts while they are created. But at the same time, they probably think that I’m some writer who actually makes a living off their articles. Which I don’t (yet), but they don’t need to know! Isn’t it cool to act like an actual successful writer?
When working on my latest graphic design elements, I can simply pretend that I’m a freelancer who actually creates their own websites. Which is kind of true,
Basically, be proud of what you do. And if you’re not yet where you want to be, act as if you were. Today I wrote a post for an IBS website I work for in a hotel lobby. Talk about taking a step out of my comfort zone! And if I can, so can you.
With this, please share this post with fellow introverts if you liked it. And let me know your thoughts in the comments!