How to Exude Confidence the “Introvert Way”
You're just shy. You need to come out of your shell. You need to speak up. If you’d just act more Extraverted, everyone would respect you more. You should show more confidence. You need, you should, you need, you should.
Have you ever heard any of these things? The assumption is that because we’re introverted, we’re naturally shy and hiding from attention because we lack confidence. But that’s not necessarily true. The other assumption is that we’re not alright as we are, and should change. Also not true.
So, how do you show confidence, demonstrating your self-respect and eliciting the respect of others, without having to act contrary to your nature? Let’s look at some ways you can exude an air of true confidence in a way that feels natural to you, demonstrating that you’re comfortable in your own skin – or shell if you will.
Carry yourself with (quiet) dignity
As Introverts, even if we don’t lack confidence, sometimes we’d be happy if we could literally be invisible. We don't feel the need to make noise or make a show of entering a room just to be noticed. We like the privacy of anonymity.
But if we duck our head, slump our shoulders and stare at our feet, our body language might be giving the wrong impression. Those postures could seem to convey shame or at least excessive diffidence.
So, without being unnatural about it, you might want to try holding yourself erect, lifting your head, and walking with an air of purpose. It's also a good idea to make eye contact sometimes. You don't have to maintain it all the time, but if you always avert your eyes, it might be attributed to lack of confidence.
And if you do meet someone's eyes occasionally, it's easier to command their attention when you need it, and to communicate clearly.
Make yourself heard, your way
You don’t have to talk loudly, or a lot. But you do want to be heard at times, and not get talked over. Your best approach is to use just the right volume appropriate for the setting – and your type of introverted personality – and to speak clearly, so you can be heard without ever having to be loud.
At times, it can even be effective to speak very softly, but with an air of authority, requiring others to listen more closely. You can even reason that the more important and well-thought-out your words, the less loudly you need to speak them.
Or, you may want to wait until others quiet down and are ready to listen to you, so you don’t have to compete for the floor. Bottom line: you don’t have to shout; just speak in the right volume at the right time, so you can be heard instead of being ignored or drowned out.
Don’t apologize for being an Introvert
Let's face it. Even with all the positive attention Introverts have received in recent years, there's still the lingering idea that being an introvert somehow makes you less, so you should strive to change yourself, or at least the image you project.
Whether you want to be an ambassador for Introverts or just be comfortable being yourself, you can show by your words, actions and manner that you’re fine with who you are, and that includes being an introvert. You know that it’s nothing to be ashamed of, so don’t act like it is.
Show, in your subtle way, that you’re proud of the strengths you bring as an Introvert. Exude the air of someone comfortable in your own skin.
Use humor, if it feels right
This doesn’t mean telling a lot of jokes, or laughing loudly, especially when there really isn’t anything that funny. It means using your own brand of humor to show that you’re comfortable as you are, and you expect others to accept that. For example, you might say something like, “I’m going to retreat into my Introvert cave now to get a few hours of deep work done. I’ll be open to questions after I emerge.”
I like the small, enigmatic smile that hints that I know something you may not know. If the loudest Extraverts in the room try to make you feel like you’re less, try sitting back and looking around the room with that small smile, making them wonder what fascinating secrets are going on inside your quiet exterior.
Show rather than tell
Instead of feeling like you have to tell people how great you are, or how really okay Introverts are, you can just do what you're good at and let people draw their own conclusions.
You might volunteer for part of a project that uses skills that you shine in – graphic design, writing, generating ideas, detailed research, listening to others, or whatever your thing is.
If you just let your light shine, others will likely notice and do the telling for you. Which leads us to …
Learn to accept a compliment
You don’t have to brag or constantly talk about yourself, but modesty doesn’t mean that you have to fail to acknowledge what you do well, especially if someone else says it. It’s helpful to learn how to graciously acknowledge a compliment.
Saying thank you, without seeming embarrassed about it, may be enough to show that you have confidence in your own abilities.
On the flip side, you can honestly admit when you’ve made a mistake, too. Few things show more true confidence than accepting responsibility without making excuses or beating yourself up. Just own the mistake, the same way you’d accept the compliment, and move on, with your confidence and self-respect intact, and quietly evident.
Acknowledging your strengths, and your weaknesses, shows genuine confidence.
Showing confidence doesn’t mean bragging, posturing, or calling too much attention to yourself. It also doesn’t mean trying to be something you’re not. It does mean showing that you feel good about who you are and what you’re good at. It can mean quietly commanding respect by behaving with dignity and self-respect.
Really, nothing conveys confidence more than just being yourself, without feeling the need to put on an act.