Introverts: Speak Up!
Hello, happy introverts! Terribly sorry to can tear you away from your books, but for a moment, I would like to show you something that could change your life.
Rothbard’s law states that we tend to specialise in what we are worst at. We tend to have an inordinate interest in certain things, even though we are not best suited to them.
I would like to apply an extension to the law: the people that ought to shut up are the ones that are speaking, and the people that ought to speak up are sitting in the corner quietly.
For every Donald Trump standing in front of thousands spouting near-gibberish to rapturous applause, there is an introvert, watching, cross-armed, thinking “this guy literally doesn’t know what he is talking about”. Then the introvert will go home, annoyed, and switch on the Xbox.
This is not to say that all extroverts are wrong and that all introverts are right, but for some reason God has not saw fit to distribute the best ideas to the people most willing to loudly express them.
We need to balance the books if we are going to cultivate the most efficient marketplace of ideas for the future. Plus, speaking up can be the key to a much more kick-ass life.
Not speaking up is lazy
An introvert is not necessarily shy. An introvert can be perfectly comfortable in social situations yet steer away from them. This is because being social saps an introvert’s energy. Sometimes only after a few minutes of conversation an introvert will feel a strong desire to retreat to his or her room to hibernate. They value time to process and analyse information.
What we can conclude is that if you are avoiding a social situation, whether it be refusing a coffee meeting or simply not saying something that has come to your mind in the presence of another person, you are simply being lazy. Avoiding laziness is a good thing, right?
Not speaking up is rude
It doesn’t matter if what you have to say is good or bad, not expressing what you feel is impolite.
If you have a problem, speak up. Especially speak up if your problem is small, because these small things tend to get bigger and are a hint to a deeper problem. Simple efforts of communication can save relationships.
If what you have to say is good, then you are simply being rude not to express it. If you have a strong feeling of appreciation for a person’s work, you should express it immediately and fully. That person probably has no idea what you feel, and like most people in a constant state of mild anxiety as to whether what they are doing is valued.
You can even apply this to the world of dating. Male introverts are invariably the ones complaining that girls don’t go for nice guys. This is not really true. Nice guys get girls all the time, but only the ones that have been pro-active and direct in what they want.
Introverts would much rather make friends with a woman, slowly assessing and waiting for a sign that it is OK to make a move. Often this means that waiting forever. It’s problematic because for whatever reason, most women expect the man to initiate things.
It may seem logical to wait for an obvious opportunity to strike, but it is in fact an unnatural mode of social interaction. In order to hold off expressing yourself, you have to quash your feelings and hide them away.
If you think someone is attractive or smart or funny, tell them for goodness sake. Not only will it make them feel good, it will save a lot of time. If your intentions are to get to know someone more intimately, you can save yourself the trouble of weeks of indirect advances and let them know how you feel right off the bat. If they appreciate it, then happy days; if they don’t appreciate it, at least you know and you’re not wasting your time.
Not speaking up is immoral
If you’re the type for big ideas, you probably have some idea that, if widely implemented, would change the world for the better.
You may not be expressing this idea because of fear of criticism, backlash or not being taken seriously. I go through this with every article I write. But what usually gets me past it is this question:
Will this article benefit somebody?
If the answer is probably yes, even if it would bring value to just one person who reads it, I publish it.
To not provide value for someone is to refrain from doing the right thing.
A few life experiments for you and I
Full disclosure: I’ve written this article as much for myself than for others. As an introvert INTP with a pinch of social anxiety, I too struggle with speaking my mind, expressing what I feel and generally being open with people.
I hate the idea of someone reading anything I write, agreeing, and doing nothing about it. So here is a challenge to all of my introverted readers. I’m making a commitment to do this too.
For the next week, I want you to do all of these things:
1. Say what you feel or think as and when you think or feel it.
This is an experiment with the purpose of shaking you out of the habit of keeping your thoughts and feelings to yourself. Don’t think of this as a life commitment – obviously there are times in your life when keeping your mouth shut is a wise choice.
But hopefully, after a week’s practice, you will feel much more comfortable and be better able to speak up when you need to in the future.
2. Text or Facebook message or call every single one of your friends at least once
The other evening I was sitting at my desk wondering with disappointment why nobody had texted me that day. It suddenly dawned on me that at least 50% of the reason why was because I had not texted anybody myself. D’oh!
So I jumped on Facebook and messaged literally everyone online at the time, starting a number of interesting conversations, and re-igniting a friendship with someone I had not talked to in months.
It was an eye-opening experience, connecting and re-connecting.
3. Compliment someone once a day
For this coming week, stop assuming that someone has heard enough praise or encouragement. This is almost never true.
Compliments are not like kick-starter campaigns – it is reasonable to elect not to donate to a worthy cause that has reached their funding target when there are others that have not. But compliments are not scarce, and they are not each of equal worth.. Even if someone has heard from many people that they do their make-up really well, or that they are a great writer, they have yet to hear it from you. Someone can hear hundreds of compliments and wave them off, but one compliment from one person they admire can resonate deeply.
And the benefits come back to you in the form of contacts, jobs, friends and dates.
4. Write an article about something you have learned
Ideas are not scarce – you have learned something that might be of value to others too, there is nothing for you to lose and everything for you to gain by sharing that idea. Post an article on liberty.me about this new knowledge. If you’re not signed up, post to your own blog or just as a Facebook status.
So start speaking up now: what do you think of this article? And let me know how your week goes.
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