- No one likes me so why even bother speaking?
- I’ll never be as good as him/her
- I always mess things up
I used to think I was bad at communicating because I would stumble with my words, feel overwhelmed, and couldn’t get out what I wanted to say. I would walk away from interactions feeling so embarrassed.
But for me, the worst experiences were always when I couldn’t speak. These times I would be with a group of people who seemed to easily chat with each other. After a while of listening I would become so aware that I hadn’t said a word. And then I would start to notice others looking at me, which seemed to me that they were also aware that I hadn’t spoken.
The next thing that would happen is that my level of feeling weird would sky rocket. This meant that it became even harder to speak as I had to combat feeling weird and trying to speak. This rarely if ever ended in success.
Once I was in this head space, my only thought became how to leave; how to remove myself from the group without being noticed. Sometimes an opportunity would show up that caused some distraction so I could leave, and other times I just felt frozen and unable to move.
These interactions were often followed by a few days of feeling deep shame and embarrassment. You see, I wanted to connect more with people. I wanted to be able to share my thoughts. I wanted to be able to share in the laughter.
What I made this mean
We live in a world that over values extroversion. This means that those that can talk easier are often rewarded.
For the quiet ones, we are often seen as defective and encouraged to learn to be more outgoing.
So what I learned from being is quiet is that there was something wrong with me, that I needed to improve, to change.
This led me to not liking myself. The more I disliked myself, the more I avoided being with others.
What I now know it actually means
It was about 10 years ago when I discovered I was introverted. Since then I have learned so much about the negative impact of being introverted in a world that values extroversion.
I have learned that it’s a struggle to feel good about yourself when the world says to be different.
I also learned that it’s actually a really brave thing to be yourself when the world invites you not to be.
I have learned from my kids, my clients, and myself that there are so many great qualities that come with being quiet. And I’ve decided not to discredit this.
I’ve decided not to agree with the narrative that quietness is a failure.
What does this have to do with communication?
One of my more recent discoveries is that it is hard to communicate when you feel flawed.
It’s hard to communicate when you feel weird.
It’s hard to communicate when you are embarrassed for who you are.
It’s hard to communicate if you view yourself as failing.
How to improve communication for Introverts
The most effective way to improve communication is to work on how you feel about yourself. I have seen this to have the greatest impact for myself and clients.
My own experience has been that the more confident I am, the easier it is to speak.
The first step is to start being aware of your thoughts when it comes to speaking with others. What do you say to yourself?
Do you say negative things like:
The next step is to challenge yourself to use more positive thoughts. The better you feel, the easier it will be to open up.
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