To get ahead in life we need to have strong relationships with others. At work, in our personal lives, everywhere. It can be hard for shy people & introverts to develop strong relationships. If you find yourself freaking out before meeting people or before meetings where people are dishing the small talk read on! Shy folks & Introverts can develop strong relationships. And maintain them!
Listen & Repeat or Reword
I recommend more listening to all of my clients! Not just the introverts. Everyone needs to listen more. When you really listen to people it makes them feel good which provides an important foundation for productive & positive relationships. We’ve all heard horror stories (or gone through them ourselves) where one of our colleagues was nightmarishly mean & nasty. Even these situations can be quelled by a bit more listening & repeating or even re-wording what others are saying in order to confirm their message. By repeating/rewording the “mean colleague’s” message you diffuse the situation & often discover that their message wasn’t as aggressive as you thought.
My advice for introverts is similar to that for people in difficult work relationships. Really listen & repeat what you think you’ve heard. You’ll be surprised how what you think you’re hearing is really different from the original message. Like the kids’ game of telephone.
But even if it’s spot on, you really end up making people feel like they’re being heard. That’s so important for strong relationships. Nobody wants to talk to the person who doesn’t stop talking. Everyone wants to talk to the good listener.
This results in people really enjoying your company. You end up being someone who’s considered a good listener. That is the ultimate compliment!
Another important result to really listening is that you’ll learn a lot about people. You’ll learn what they want out of life.
Ok. Maybe you’re far along on the introvert spectrum and even the passive job of listening is freaking you out right now. It makes you uncomfortable. And this exhausts you. The most important thing is to eliminate the tension in your musculature. It is doing you significant harm.
You’ll need to do tensing & releasing exercises & use abdominal breathing. And you can’t just count on it when you’re in these communicative situations. You need to practice in advance.
Once you learn to eliminate the tension in your upper body you’ll feel much more relaxed in these types of speaking situations, which leads to having ultra strong relationships with others.
Body Language & Facial Expressions
When used well facial expressions and body language can be an introvert’s best friend. Simply giving someone a warm smile can be enough to make that person relaxed enough to start talking. A warm smile makes most people feel comfortable and makes you easily likeable.
Keeping your arms & legs uncrossed not only makes you relaxed but makes others comfy, too.
Open body language (not crossing arms or legs) not only makes the introvert more relaxed but the others at the event more comfortable. People often walk away with the impression that you are sympathetic and in agreement with them and think you’re super nice.
Arm Yourself with an Arsenal of Anecdotes
If you know my work you’ll know that I think asking people you’ve just met loads of questions is the absolute wrong way to build great relationships. It puts people on the spot and leads to a brick wall. It leads to awkward conversations and avoidance every time you run into that person. Ugh!
Don’t ask “Where are you from?”, “What do you do?”, “What did you do this weekend?” Cliche. Overused. Boring.
And you also know, of course, that I recommended coming to an event well equipped with very short stories that can spur others to do all the talking. That’s the thing. You don’t need to feel pressure to speak. You don’t have to entertain. People want to talk about themselves. Just create the opportunity for them.
What You Should Say
“I went to the most awesome restaurant this weekend! It was Korean BBQ & I got the short ribs. They were so good!” Just a few details with some passion. A small percentage of people will ask you questions about the restaurant. The majority of people will tell you a related story. Some will do both. Wallah! You bonded over food!
Introverts should have a few practiced phrases that they tell others about themselves. Like, “I’man introvert so talking to others sometimes makes me uncomfortable.” Or even, “Coming to these events makes me a bit nervous–I never know what to say!” (Just put a nice smile on your face.) I’m willing to bet real money that most people will be able to relate and say so. Most reactions will be, “I know! Me, too! I never know what to say!” This establishes a bond that is so much stronger than work-chat. You’re well on your way to developing strong relationships.
Introverts & Professional Relationships
The stronger we make our professional relationships by sharing small bits of information about ourselves in the form of opinions or emotions the better our work like will be.
It’s a big deal to me. I go into firms and work with entire teams. I sometimes find there’s some toxicity there that’s detrimental to the individuals as well as the firm. Once I get people to understand each other better and form better relationships productivity soars. And people are so much happier.
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