How to Be an Extrovert

Three Parts:Having the MindsetDoing the WorkEngaging with Others

Extroversion is the act, state, or habit of being predominantly concerned with and obtaining gratification from what is outside the self. In other words, extroverts appreciate the attention of others and gain energy from social interactions. If you want to get more gratification from the world around you and enjoy social interactions, you can do it without changing who you are.

Part 1
Having the Mindset

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    Value extroversion. It's important to concentrate on the great qualities that extroverts have: they generally make friends easily, are comfortable in front of and with crowds, and can keep a party going. While it's true that both extroverts and introverts have downsides (some extroverts talk too much and sometimes interrupt others, which can be inappropriate at times), focus on the good.
    • It's easy to think of extroverts in a negative light -- people think they speak before they think and that they're overly concerned with the superficial. It's not true! Extroverts are just as intuitive and thoughtful as introverts. If you want to become an extrovert, you'll have to associate it with positive attributes -- and there are many!
    • The definition of an extrovert is someone that recharges when they're around people. That's all. They're totally capable of deep thought and being good listeners. They generally have good social skills (...generally) and can be quite the go-getters.
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    Envision yourself as the right kind of extrovert. It's true: some extroverts come off as fake and phony. Think of a car salesman that pressures people into buying their product -- that's the kind of extrovert you don't want to be. And you don't have to be. You can be whatever kind of extrovert you want. Some extroverts are even shy!
    • What are the qualities of your ideal extrovert? Maybe they feel at ease in groups, maybe they speak up more, maybe they get the party started. Whatever it is, these are things you can accomplish. It's simple habit. Think of a few things and write them down. "Being more extroverted" is a tough goal to hit; "speaking up more" is something a lot more doable.
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    Know that it's a spectrum. Heads up: research says most of us are ambiverts.[1] It's your standard bell curve. Some people are on one end (introverts), some people are on the opposite end (extroverts), but the vast majority of us lie somewhere in the middle.
    • Even if you're mostly introverted, you have at least a few extroverted characteristics. Even Jung (the famed psychologist) said that no one is only one or the other -- if they were, they'd be in an insane asylum.[2] All you have to do is draw out your extroverted tendencies. They're hiding somewhere.
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    Know that you may feel better than you felt when you were an introvert. Though there is an argument that the studies are a little biased, some research has shown that when introverts act more extroverted, they're happier.[3] Experts aren't super sure why, but the idea behind it is that in general, you receive a more positive response. That positive reinforcement from others can be very, very powerful.
    • It does seem to be true that introverts underestimate what they'll enjoy. Even for some extroverts, there are parties you just dread going to, but then you end up having a good time. Whether it's because you're proud of yourself for breaking out of your box, you experienced something new, or Mohammed did a spit-take onto the chocolate fountain, we are not the best predictors of what we enjoy.
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    Realize that it may be very difficult. Sure, the brain is plastic, but you can't teach a dog to be a ferret. If you're extremely introverted, being an extrovert will be incredibly draining. Heck, even some extroverts find too much social stimuli draining at a point. This could be a hurdle that takes years to cross.
    • If you border on agoraphobic, don't force anything. Instead, consider this: Western cultures highly value extroversion -- Eastern ones don't as much. Is it possible this desire to be extroverted is not an innate desire and rather it's one that's taught to you? Consider accepting your introversion -- introverts are just as necessary to society as extroverts are!

Part 2
Doing the Work

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    Observe. Changing your personality is hard work. But the brain is plastic and it is doable. Start by observing the extroverts around you. Notice how there are different kinds and how they thrive in different settings. Some might be on top of their game in small groups while others are on top of their game in large crowds. Some might even get inhibited in certain situations!
    • Also take the time to note what it is that you think makes them extroverted. Remember this: some extroverts are naturally shy. Just because a person is shy doesn't mean they don't get their energy from others. Are you looking to be more confident? Outgoing? What other traits aside from extroversion are these people showcasing that you'd like to emulate?
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    Perform. This is a nice way of saying "fake it." But you're not faking it -- you're just performing. Now that you've spent some time observing other extroverts, mimic them. When you're in a social situation, put on your extroverted hat. Robert de Niro, Barbara Walters, David Letterman -- they're all introverts.[4] They get up there and do it. And then they go home.
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    Start small. Start small in both task and time. Take 15 minutes out of your day to be around people. Get out of your comfort zone; do something small that makes you a tiny bit uncomfortable. Go knock on your neighbor's door and introduce yourself. After the first one, the second one will seem a lot easier. The third one will be cake.
    • As you get comfortable with being extroverted for that chunk of time, make it bigger. Next week, spend an hour going around to everyone in your building. When you're at the bus stop, ask the person you're standing next to for the time and follow it up with some other comment on the situation. Get the cashier at the grocery store to smile. The tiny things will add up.
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    Get around people. The fact of the matter is that you can't be extroverted when you're by yourself. Kinda part of the definition. So get around people! Whether it's joining the circle around the watercooler or accepting the invitation to Julie's baby shower, go. You'll never grow and get better if you don't.
    • Generally people stop asking you to things if you always come up with an excuse not to go. Do yourself a favor and take people up on their invitations. The more you get around these people, the more comfortable you'll be with them and the more comfortable you'll feel being extroverted.
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    Find your value. Some of us peg ourselves as geeks or dorks. We think of extroverts as socialites who wouldn't have the time of day for lame-os like us. Not true! Not true at all. Just because you're introverted does not mean you lack social skills or value. There's a role to fill in any group.
    • Let's take the most extreme example: you sit at home every day of the week on your computer playing video games and eating Kraft mac n' cheese. Are you still intelligent? Yes. Do you still have skills? Yes. Does a man with a business idea who can talk to people need someone else to format his website? Yes. What can you bring to any table?
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    Walk on the wild side. Extroverts tend to be a bit more impulsive than introverts.[5] To mimic an extrovert's impulses (until they come naturally, that is), think off the cuff. If you're walking by a stream, jump in (if you can swim). Start singing in the middle of the supermarket. Anything that you might've deemed a little crazy before should be given a second thought.

Part 3
Engaging with Others

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    Find the right group. Sometimes the problem isn't us -- it's the people around us. In the nicest way possible, of course. Part of the issue could be that you just don't jive with the people around you. Maybe an older (or younger) age group, different demographic, etc., would be more up your alley. These people could bring out a side of you that's more talkative and, quite frankly, enjoys people more. Think about it.
    • Test this theory out by joining a club. Anything that's a small class where you could get to know a group of like-minded people could show you that it's not everyone who makes you clam up -- it's just certain types of people. Some people inhibit us and others don't -- find the ones that draw you out.
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    Play your strengths. Maybe you're a great listener but not a great talker. Maybe you read a lot instead of partying. Newsflash! Your introverted strengths can be extroverted strengths. The next time an acquaintance is making it quite clear they're having a bad day, go up to them and ask them what's up. Your listening skills will take over. Start a conversation about the book you're reading -- if you didn't know it, extroverts read, too!
    • Odds are if you're truly introverted, you're reflecting a lot, getting in your head, observing and noticing things. If that's the case, you're set: you have an attention to detail that is hard to cultivate organically. Use that. Notice something small and comment on it. People might be taken aback for a split second before a smile erupts on their face that someone finally noticed something about them. Everyone loves that feeling.
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    Talk. Once you're in a social situation (which is really half the battle), get to talking. Anything. Anything at all. You obviously have opinions! And if you're uncomfortable stating how you feel, ask questions. Everyone loves it when people seem interested in them. Asking questions is an easy way out.
    • If this is an issue, start talking when you're by yourself. Start talking more around your family and best friends. Sometimes it's hard just getting used to the sound of our own voices. Practice doesn't make perfect, but it does make habit. The more you get used to talking a lot, the better you'll be at it in all situations.
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    Assert yourself. The next step after talking is asserting yourself. When a chance comes up to give your opinion, take it. Unless you're advocating mass genocide or that an amorphous purple blob follows you around on Tuesdays, you probably won't incite chaos or rejection. In the scheme of things, is saying what movie you'd like to see momentous at all? Nope. How about what you thought of your boss' presentation? Nope. Just spit it out.
    • Let other people set the tone if you'd like. One of the things most people are good at is complaining and they get really good at it when they're in groups. Find a time when you and a few friends/acquaintances are jabbing about nothing and give your opinion. If others don't like it, so be it. The conversation will move on.
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    Interrupt. Introverts are guilty of often being too nice. An extrovert will grab the conversation by the horns and take a hold. Let that be you! You don't have to wait for an opening -- because it may not come. It's not rude if it's timely. Extroverts do it all the time.
    • The only issue is to know when to do it. If you think about it, you'll probably recognize acceptable opportunities. The middle of a story about your friend's sick best friend isn't the best place. The middle of a soap box on veganism might be. If it's an active conversation or debate, go for it. If the person is venting or grieving, wait to state your business.
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    Attract attention. The smaller stuff is outta the way -- now it's time to break out the big guns: attracting attention to yourself. This may involve being loud, it may not. More often than not, however, it does involve instigating action. Start a game. Talk about doing something Friday night. Get people organized.
    • Get people doing things. Bring up a subject that everyone can talk about. Start tossing popcorn down the table. Hide awkwardly behind a small pole. Send a funny video to all your friends. Get people doing things and get people talking.
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    Get people laughing. Though not all extroverts are comedians and not all comedians are extroverts, if you want to be noticed socially, a good way is to do it is to get your group laughing. The step in attracting attention is a good place to start, but you can take it even further. Even if it has to be at your own expense!
    • Even something simple like making funny noises or moving in slow motion can get people laughing. If quirky is doable, it'll work. People will be amused and hopefully put at ease. Being social will just skyrocket from there when they join in with you!
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    Keep the party going. A true, true extrovert can take any awkward silence and run with it, even if it means talking about their cat. If you're in a group of people and thumbs are a-twiddling, start talking. See how many marshmallows you can balance on your forehead. Ask someone "truth or dare." Turn on the Macarena and get dancing.
    • Different crowds will respond to different things. If you're with a group post-Vivaldi operetta and the classic debate of steel-barrel wine vs oak-barrel wine has awkwardly drawn to a close, turning on the Macarena may not be your best bet. Know your audience -- what might get them going?


  • Don't try too hard; making yourself uncomfortable will just be frustrating. Go at your own pace. Take baby steps.

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Categories: Socialite Style