Confidence has NOTHING to do with being an extrovert. There I said it. So relieved to get that off my chest. It’s something that has been bugging me for a while and more recently I have heard so many people pigeonhole extroverts as confident and introverts as not. Its ridiculous and unhelpful and what’s more worrying is that some of the people proclaiming such non truths are people who are in the world of personal development. So I want to share my truth on this topic and set the record straight on a few things related to the C word!

Personally, I hate labels and think the introvert/extrovert piece is often used in the personal development world in a way that doesn’t help people genuinely develop. When I am working with groups and this discussion surfaces I focus on two things to help them work together better:

– Introverts get their energy from being alone, and extroverts get their energy from being with others

– Introverts tend to think to speak, and extroverts tend to speak to think

Just knowing these two things help my clients understand why they find it easier to be around and communicate with some people more than others. And the reality is that we all have a spectrum of introversion/extroversion its just some of us have a broader one than others. I know that most people would ‘label’ me as an extreme extrovert and if I am honest, I often share that I tend to feel energised around people. However the more I have got to know myself at a deeper level the more I can recognise the times when I need to recharge by being alone.

Rachel Anderson (Executive Coach and social introvert) says that “shyness, lack of confidence and introversion are often associated in popular understanding. But this isn’t necessarily the case” In her online programme ‘The power of introverts’ she goes on to say “Introverts tend to think things through before they speak. And they tend not to speak unless it’s important. So at meetings they can be quieter. But this doesn’t relate to a lack of confidence, it’s about a difference in processing information”

So you see it’s not that black and white. We are not one or the other.

As a self-labeled person that rejects labels (go figure that one!) here are four myths about  extroverts I’d like to bust right now:

Myth 1 Extroverts don’t like being on their own – just because you tend to get your levels of energy replenished by being around other people, your creativity thrives when you get the opportunity to spar with others, and you enjoy communicating, it doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy moments of solitude. Typically, if extroverts spend long periods of time alone there is potential for them to become more tired and feel low; however, I can testify that with three young children and a business to run that I cherish (and enjoy) every opportunity that I get to be alone and reconnect to myself.

Myth 2 Extroverts like to party all night long – because I will talk to anyone that will listen (and often very loudly!) punctuated by expressive body language, there is an assumption that I am some party animal. Incorrect assumption. I enjoy people, and I believe I have a healthy social calendar, but I can say hands on heart that I am often the first to leave the party and claim a reasonable time to bed. For me, the perfect evening is dinner is with friends where I can enjoy everyone’s company and conversation and not using sign language in a nightclub until 4 am.

Myth 3 Extroverts are confident in everything they do – “oh but you are so confident” is a response that I often hear and this is one of my biggest bug bears of being labeled as an extrovert. Yes, I am socially confident. I am genuinely interested in people, so that helps. However, I can assure you that there are many areas of my life where I get the wobbles like everyone else. Each one of us has a comfort zone, and that changes with context. So yes, because of the social nature of extroverts they may appear confident walking into a room of strangers, but there will be a whole list of other things that generate self-doubt and fear.

Myth 4 I will be a great salesperson or leader – you can be a significant anything if you want to be and whether you are introvert or extrovert doesn’t make a jot of difference. We are talking about preference and not competence here. I have worked with many sales functions, and an abundance of leaders and the way in which they sell or lead may be different, but the outcomes they can create are not to be compared. You only have to look at some of the world leaders to know that you can lead well no matter what your orientation.

So my rant started with the assumption that so many people make about confidence – that it’s an extroverted thing. It isn’t. Confidence is available to every single one of us at any one time. It’s the stories we tell ourselves that make it less accessible. Clients often talk to me about how they will take the next step, go for the next job, shoot for their dreams once they have got a bit more confidence.

The reality is that our levels of confidence (or lack of it) fluctuates, it comes and goes, peaks and troughs and this can happen daily and even hourly.

Definition: the feeling or belief that one can rely on or have faith in someone or something or a feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one’s abilities or qualities.

Whether you get your energy from being alone or being with others, whether you think to speak or speak to think is irrelevant when it comes to confidence. We all have moments on the confidence spectrum, and often it’s a mind trick coming into play that stops us living a life less ordinary. Buying into the stories we tell ourselves about confidence creates limits in our lives that can keep us stuck. So the simple answer to having more confidence is to learn how to reject those stories and focus on how to have faith in ourselves and start to appreciate our abilities and qualities and go forth.

If you want to create a life without limits, then come and join a group of people who are leaping faith into the next version of themselves and their lives and of you are interested in Rachel’s online course The power of introverts then follow this link

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