Can Introverts Have Good Social Skills?
Introverts make around one-third to half of the U.S. population. Being an introvert is as common as getting heads every time you flip a coin.
Yet, there are so many myths about introverts.
From the notion that introverts can never get along with extroverts to saying that all introverts are aloof nerds, the list is a long one.
Among them, probably the biggest myth is that introverts don’t like to socialize.
But, that might be too much of a hasty generalization. However, this might be partially true some of the time and it might entice you to question, “Can Introverts have Good Social Skills?”
Though the stereotype exists that introverts are shy and socially awkward, Introverts can definitely have social skills. Introverts do like to socialize in either a one to one situation or in small groups where there is a meaningful discussion going on.
In fact, Introverts have been found to spend the same amount of time with other people just as extroverts do and enjoy it equally.
What are Social Skills anyway?
Social skills is the ability to interact and communicate with others using verbal and nonverbal ways.
Verbal ways mostly relate to the spoken word whilst nonverbal communication include body language, facial expressions, and eye contact.
Any time you’re interacting with a fellow human being, your social skills are in action.
Not everyone has the same level of social skills. It’s the same as playing a video game, everyone’s skills would be different.
Why are Social Skills important?
You might be an entrepreneur who has been working on building a prototype of a product you think will be a game-changer. Having social skills helps a lot when you’re looking for investors or are recruiting team members.
Or, you might not be the most un-sociable guy but crave being in a relationship. You see a really cute girl in the park. You’re looking at her and she gives you a smile. Being able to start a conversation could be the start of your romantic journey.
On the contrary, not being able to start one might mean you end up going home full of regret for not talking when you had the chance to!
Social Skills form the foundation for building up both your personal and professional relationships.
Having healthy relationships is essential for your wellbeing. As is mentioned in the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which show the needs that motivate a human being, Love and Belonging is an essential need.
Developing interpersonal relationships through friendship, intimacy, and being a part of the community are a part of the human experience.
Image via Simply Psychology
Do all Introverts have good social skills?
Let us first define what “Good Social Skills”’ would mean. This means a person who can interact and communicate well using their verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
Can all introverts do that?
The answer for that would be a NO. Why is that?
An Introvert is described to be a person who is naturally quiet and reserved. Moreover, Introverts are known to be better at writing than speaking.
One can find out if they are an introvert if they feel drained after attending a party or engagement and need to recharge with time alone.
Extroverts on the other hand are the tails if introverts are the heads of a coin. They get their energy by being around people and socializing.
If there were a competition on social skills between an introvert and an extrovert, I’d probably put my money on the extrovert. Extroverts get their energy from being around other people and so it is natural for them to love social gatherings of all forms.
If this is you, you’re probably an introvert.
Introverts are not Anti-social, they are Selectively Social
Human beings are social creatures and a sense of belonging is a basic human need whether introvert or extrovert.
When I was in college, I once tried a simple experiment to test how effectively I can work when I am completely alone. This was because I would feel very distracted in an environment full of students.
I simply stayed at college until everyone left and went to a classroom to work in complete silence.
I liked the sense of silence at the very start but after some time, I started to feel a void. That void was the lack of people. It wasn’t that I was absolutely eager to communicate with people but just missing seeing people around didn’t feel right.
This taught me that the presence of people is needed. It is not possible even for the majority of introverts to work in complete isolation.
That’s why we have to be more specific on the way introverts like to socialize.
Introverts are more sensitive to sounds than extroverts. They’ve also got a mind which is always analyzing information.
Big groups means too much stimuli that leads to social overstimulation that can be very exhausting for introverts.
This is why Introverts rather prefer to have one on one conversations or conversations in small groups rather than those of larger sizes. This also explains why introverts do not prefer to stay long during parties or gatherings.
The catch of introverts having good social skills
If your definition of having good social skills includes introverts naturally getting along with the small talk in big groups and being the life of the party, you might be disappointed.
Introverts don’t mind the occasional party or hangout with their friend circle but the key word here is OCCASIONAL.
But, if you catch an introvert with their two close friends having coffee in a quiet cafe, from afar, you might have a hard time figuring out if the person even is an introvert.
Introverts also possess some weaknesses too. Sometimes they might act aloof or even with a sense of unfriendliness though they have good intentions within them. Many of my friends have complained to me regarding this behavior.
Tips to develop good social skills for introverts and still stick to who you are
Whether you like it or not, having to go to places in big groups and having to chitchat are accepted and embraced in our society. When they are of priority, you’ll have to be more sociable as an introvert.
You don’t need to worry about socializing with everyone. But, relationships do matter equally for introverts as well.
Your girlfriend might want to introduce you to her friends at a party, you wouldn’t wanna be rude to her, would you?
The co-workers might have planned a women’s night out, it wouldn’t be well-perceived if you were the only one missing, right?
You’ve finally got the chance to go to that meeting where you’ll have an opportunity to network with people who could be a game-changer for your business? Would you wanna go sit in a corner in such an opportunity?
These types of scenarios just come up in life and you’ll have to be a part of them. These 2 tips will be helpful for you in such scenarios:
- Stretch the Rubber Band but only to a point
This is a key insight I got from the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, probably the best book on introversion.
Here, Cain mentions the Rubber Band Theory which says that we can stretch our personalities but only to a certain point. This means that even as an introvert, you can show the tendencies of an extrovert yet only to a certain extent.
Cain came with an example of how it would not be impossible for an Introvert like Bill Gates to be like an extroverted personality like Bill Clinton though how hard he might try. The opposite is equally true as well.
Even as an introvert there are some extroverted traits that might be needed for the person. For example, you might be an introvert working in Marketing who has to go to different conferences and industry gatherings to network and spread the word of the brand.
Therefore, it is recommended that you put the effort to act extroverted some of the times where the situation demands as such in order to reach your goals. But, after that you can come back to your sweet home and get back and recharge.
But remember you can all stretch the rubber band to a certain point. It has to come back to its original structure.
- Utilize Introversion characteristics in social situations
Telling an introvert to just go and practice socializing isn’t the best tip to give.
Rather, if you stick to what an introvert’s strengths are, when you do try to socialize it can come across as more natural.
Introverts tend to be more empathic towards identifying and understanding the feelings of another person.
At the same time, introverts are great active listeners who can pay close attention to someone who is communicating with you. These can be tools that you can use in your arsenal for socialization.
Ask questions to people about their favorite hobbies, career, or dreams. Everyone loves talking about themselves.
As you go on listening to them and some comfort gets built up, the person would naturally ping back questions to you(unless their a complete narcissist, in that case, Run!).
This could be the best way for introverts to be more sociable whilst still being completely themselves.
Introverts can definitely have good social skills but the reality is that introverts just socialize differently than extroverts do. It doesn’t make introverts better nor extroverts better, they are just wired differently which causes these preferences.
Still, the truth is that we are living in a world where extroversion is popularized and culturalized. Maybe that is why Introverts tend to feel they don’t fit in many times.
Even actress Emma Watson once questioned if something was wrong with her for not liking to go out and do what all her friends wanted to do. It’s a common feeling to have for introverts, especially younger ones.
It’s important to acknowledge that and accept it but still unapologetically be the introvert you are.