This article was last updated on June 22, 2016
Not everyone is born a “people person”. Me included. I tend to shy away from the spotlight when there are many people around. However, I love people and am attracted to them. I find their stories fascinating and continuously learning from them to better myself.
This explains why I love interviewing inspiring people and reading biographies and memories. The deeper I know someone, either in person or virtually, the more I admire them.
In my world, everyone is a teacher. We can learn from their successes and their failures. Acknowledging them is the first path to be a “people person” in the fullest meaning of the term.
It’s common knowledge that individuals who are good with other people would enjoy privileges in connecting with, relating to, and leading others. These traits are essential for success. Both extroverts and introverts can learn these skills.
Introverts regain their energy with alone time, while extroverts gain their strength from being out there with many people. Both types are necessary for society and for human evolution. However, many people misunderstood the quieter introverts for being “weak,” while the louder extroverts are mistaken for being “strong.”
The truth is, introverts tend to think first before speaking, while extroverts do the other way around. These traits can be learned as well. For instance, introverts can learn to speak without any pause from thinking too much. Extroverts can learn to think first for one or two seconds prior to expressing verbally.
I’m an introvert and will always be. This means I think before I speak and I find alone time recharging and relaxing. I prefer not to be involved in loud group activities, but favor more quite group activities and one-on-one sessions. I genuinely love people but prefer having a small group of like-minded people with deep relationships instead of hanging out with a large group of people whom I barely know.
Susan Cain in her 2013 best-selling book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” says that there is nothing wrong being an introvert, for the primary difference between an introvert and an extrovert is their source of energy.
Realizing the need to better my skills around people, I learned the importance of the following elements when communicating. It takes time to master them and I often fall back to my own quiet way.
Just remember to keep reframing your thoughts and words whenever you’re communicating with people before retrieving into your private world. Here are 5 tips you can use to become more charismatic.
How to Be a People Person When You Aren’t
First, practice the Golden Rule.
To relate with others better, place yourself in the other person’s shoes. Open your heart up. Treat people like how you want to be treated. It may sound cliche, but it’s the most important principle of communication. When you invest in something good, it will return to you. When you appreciate people, they will appreciate you back.
When people don’t behave well and are negative, if we keep our positive attitude, most likely they’d change and follow our lead. For instance, if you want others to encourage you, you can start by encouraging them. This kind of positivity brings people closer and, together, you can bring the best in each other.
Second, hold no grudges and forgive right away.
Forgiving others right away is a sign of strength. It’s both liberating your mind and maintaining peace at heart. For thinking introverts, who tend to ruminate a lot, grudges would create an endless cycle that doesn’t stop.
The more you think of something that’s “not right” in your eyes, the more you’d ruminate, thus the more unforgiving you are and deeper the grudge would become. Stop the vicious cycle by forgiving and letting go.
Third, remove your “ego” to be seen “intelligent.”
Let communication flow and create a positive and friendly atmosphere. For a nerdy introvert like me, it takes time to warm up as I tend to talk about “big ideas” rather than personal activities.
You can start talking about whatever it is available in front of you at that time, such as what a fine dinner it is and how good the weather is. Start with something both of you find interesting, instead of talking about the Congress, the latest stock price for APPL, or the recent debate on Universal Basic Income.
Fourth, show interest by really listening to other’s stories.
Listen to what people are saying by showing the proof of it. Ask questions based on what they have just talked about. Make positive comments with some facial expression.
Don’t wait for your turn to talk by nodding without really listening. The more you practice this proactive listening, the better you become at understanding others. And you’ll open your heart more.
Fifth, use “we” instead of I whenever possible.
Use “we” more often than “I” and frame your message to include “we” than merely “I.” Remember that an ideal communication is a win-win, meaning both parties gain something meaningful. Small simple things, like attentive listening, appreciating their time, and reciprocity would reinforce the “we” factor.
Introverts can communicate well with others and some are even famous for it. For example, Dianne Sawyer, Julia Roberts, Abraham Lincoln, Emma Watson, Christina Aguilera, George Stephanopoulos, and Bill Gates are all introverts. We love them for who they are and we can attest that they are “people persons.”
I’ve been practicing this more open communication style with these five elements, which are both engaging and positive, for years. And I’m still learning how to make people like me more for who I am than what I know about the world. Everything takes time.
Three more tips:
One, if you’re super shy when dealing with others, imagine that you’re talking to only one person whom you truly trust, like your partner or your best friend. Trick your mind to believe it.
Two, if you become nervous, look at the wall behind the forehead of person you’re talking to. Look at the spot in between their eyes. You’re still looking at them, but slightly indirectly.
Three, be aware of your body language. Have an open body language, not squeamish or closed. Study reveals that open body language also tricks our mind to think that we’re confident and positive, as if everything goes in our favor.
At last, be brave and watch yourself grow on daily basis. Communicating the way “people person” does takes time and practice for introverts. Eventually, you’ll have the so-called “charisma” to open more doors and more opportunities.
Just take the first step.
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