In today’s society, the most sought out people are usually characterized as extroverts. This leaves behind a wedge between those who are marked extroverts and introverts, almost characterizing introverts as a liability, a strange anomaly in the equation of life. As an introvert, I would argue otherwise.
There is nothing wrong with being an introvert; however, the current thought that circulates around the characterization is. We are so obsessed with the gregarious natures of extroverts that we disdainfully object the silent nature of introverts, and this thought process makes introverts think that they themselves are a problem. Imagine a usually quiet but normal child being judged for his nature; can we not say his loneliness would simply multiply to the point where his mental facilities would be plagued with self-doubt and a sense of despair?
Though I would like to argue much more on the introvert’s behalf, I believe that we introverts must act as well. I believe that through certain networking skills, introverts may be able to provide a sense of openness without compromising their own inherent nature. In a sense, these skills are meant to rebrand the way we see introverts and find them socially acceptable rather than segregating them from the “normal” people.
One of the pillars of networking is through body language. When one goes to a networking event it is common to see many people slouching on the walls, arms crossed and so forth. Humans instinctively perceive and react to different stimuli in their environments and the reaction most would have for this kind of posture would be avoidance. In order to create an atmosphere of generous interaction, we have to stop seeing things through our own lens. We have to rationally think about what our actions would result to. Here in my example, we see that many people will avoid those who have their arms crossed because it is a basic human instinct. The posture of crossed arms gives off a defensive aura that people are usually taken aback to, and the person who does not wish to isolate himself from the pack has unconsciously done so. The solution to this is easy. Fix one’s body posture.
Do not cross your arms, put your hands to the side. This posture creates a space of openness to you. While some may argue that this creates an air of vulnerability as well, I argue that that is the point. Opponents may argue that now you appear to be some easily manipulated fool, but the change of posture is not a result to a degradation of intellect. Rather, it makes you look more approachable and friendly. When people tend to loosen their tight guard and pursed lips, wondrous results can be observed almost immediately. People will open up to you and attempt to interact with you. While it may be minimally at first, it can grow as your confidence in yourself grows.
This leads me to another point. To smile. Smiling is easily one of the deal breakers in human interaction; however, it has commonly become more of a jab. Too commonly I hear people telling others, “you should smile more,” “you look better when you smile.” I cannot deny the fact that smiling is an art that seems to bring out the best of someone, but everyone has different personalities and traits that define them. The insistence of smiling creates a mechanical response from many and it is awfully infectious. The problem with this is that people can sense when falsity is in front of them. They know the difference between a genuine smile and a fake one. The problem lies in that people who are urged to smile will instinctively put on a manufactured smile. What I ask of you is not to do that, but rather attempt to genuinely smile. Try thinking of something that makes you happy. A genuine smile opens doors for people through networking and not just that, in life as well. According to psychology, a person’s life span can be expected to increase by an incredible 9 percent. That is even more than exercising which lies around 2 percent. Being happy is like a watery solution that breaks down on the anxiety and mental illnesses that build up inside many of us introverts.
While it may seem counterintuitive to do these things, I believe that one should allow the results to speak for themselves. Too often we generate our own problems that populate our minds when we can easily create beautiful green grass on our own terrace much like our neighbors. There are much more networking strategies that I believe can provide beneficial life lessons, but some may work and some may not. As Bruce Lee once said, “Absorb what is useful, discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own.”
By: Wai Wing Lau, AiT Contributor