In my life coaching work, many of the women I work with are introverts. They’re uncomfortable with the idea of being the centre of attention. Sometimes, they may even pass up an opportunity to be visible. Even ‘having the floor’ or being the focus of the conversation amongst a group of friends can put them on edge.
While there are many upsides to introversion, in an extroverted society, the tendency to avoid being seen can have some negative outcomes on your personal and professional life. Staying in a comfort zone of invisibility can lead to not reaching your potential at work, feeling isolated or lonely in social settings, and ultimately feeling that you’re lacking in some way.
Whether you’re trying to feel more comfortable in your own skin, or wanting to develop the quiet confidence to speak up in the workplace, the following six strategies will help you step toward the spotlight:
1. Work out why it matters
Looking deeper into the benefits of opening up can help the ‘logical’ part of your mind understand how it would help to be seen, even if the ‘emotional’ side is feeling anxious at the thought.
Think about a clear reason you want to step out of your comfort zone. You may have been overlooked for an opportunity to develop your career, or you may be feeling inadequate and awkward in a social group, constantly unable to fully express yourself.
Find your personal motivation to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Being able to confidently communicate your thoughts can be a way to overcome these hurdles.
2. Recognise you have something to offer
We all have unique traits that can be valuable contributions to those around us. Introverts are known to be in creative thinkers, reliable self-starters, great problem solvers, and compassionate leaders. Create a list of the qualities you are most proud of or ask a few close friends and family to describe the characteristics they love the most about you.
When you truly acknowledge you have something to offer, that translates into an assurance or confidence that allows you to show up authentically. This strong belief also helps to diminish the fear of judgement playing in the back of your mind.
“What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly” – Carl R. Rogers
3. Prepare ahead of time
Whether you have an upcoming social occasion or work event, doing some preparation ahead of time can alleviate the nervousness of a future interaction.
For example, if small talk is needed, looking up a few icebreakers can ease the apprehension to start a conversation. Keep these conversation starters in mind when you’re trying to find common ground with the other person.
4. Practise in safe settings
Practise may not mean perfect, but it does give you extra confidence through repetition.
Find a space to run-through what you want to say. You can practise with a trusted friend to receive their immediate feedback, or you may prefer to rehearse alone.
The more comfortable you are in your environment, the easier it will be to feel vulnerable, openly communicate your thoughts, and be unhindered by your inner critic.
5. Be open about it
Remember you are not alone in your feelings. Expressing your frustrations and doubts with a trusted friend can help you start to break the cycle of concealment. A good friend can validate your feelings, share their personal insights, and be vulnerable with you.
“We don’t have to do all of it alone. We were never meant to.” – Brené Brown
Surrounding yourself with friends who make you feel good about yourself can inspire you to embrace your gifts and what you have to offer. You may also like to reach out to a counsellor or life coach if you feel you could do with some extra support.
6. Take the pressure off
Stepping out into the spotlight can be a very nerve-wracking thought. Honour your progress by taking it one day at a time, starting with small steps.
Practice self-awareness by understanding your limit, and respecting it. If the pressure of taking a big leap forward feels like it’s too much, balance it by pulling back to what feels right. Be kind to yourself, quieten your inner critic and celebrate your small wins.