The Struggles of an Introvert:  Your Life is Shaped by How People See You

It should come as no secret to you, my fellow introvert, that people’s opinions of you—of the things you do, the things you say, and the things you like—has a very real emotional impact on you. People that showcase a positive response to you almost always become friends (or at least a person we hold in high regard). Those who let slip even slightly negative impressions fall somewhere on a spectrum that spans between Minor Annoyance to Mortal Enemy.

man looking through thick glasses

While many of us learn to devalue other people’s opinions at a surface level and insulate ourselves from harmful negative energy, what we don’t often see is how that negativity insidiously inserts itself into our brains. Even as we tell ourselves that we don’t care what people think, we’re reevaluating ourselves at a deeper level and are much more likely to shield our true selves from people in the future.

But that’s not just a grumpy introvert talking. Science (specifically psychological studies) have shown that the opinions of others are massively important in our lives even if we don’t realize it.

“Humans and animals use the reactions of others to help determine what is valuable: what to eat, what is dangerous, what is attractive, and (for humans) what to wear, what medicine to take, and for whom to vote—to give but a few examples. Each object, from food to parliamentary candidate, has a perceived value, which can be changed through social influence. Consequently, understanding how our values are changed by social influence is of considerable importance. We have shown that, when effective, the opinions of others alter a very basic mechanism of the human brain that reflects an immediate change in our values. Social influence at such a basic level may contribute to the rapid learning and spread of values throughout a population. These values could range from the quality of food to race and gender stereotypes.”

How the Opinion of Others Affects Our Valuation of Objects – PMC (

Negativity Breeds Bad Results for the Introvert

This goes far beyond Herd Mentality (or The Law of Social Proofing). We’re talking about when a negative attitude or idea can literally reshape your future.

Some of this negative energy is couched in what is subjectively seen as positive reinforcement and often comes from our closest family and friends. In fact, these close relations often have the most impact on our own mental state and can—without knowing it—create life-altering crossroads at which we make decisions not with our own best interests at heart but with the advice of those other top of mind. (Want to read more about how friends and family teach you to fail?)

Indeed, sometimes the opinion of others about us affects us via proxy. The Extrovert Bias that Susan Cain writes about at length in her book Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking is essentially culturally-adopted stigmatism of introversion as a personality type and introverted people as members of society.

This stigma is founded on the belief that an introvert is somehow less important or valuable to society than an extrovert. This belief is erroneous. Objective studies have found that introverts perform just as well (or often better) than extroverts in important leadership roles. This, it is believed, stems from the fact that an introvert’s ego isn’t as big as that of an extrovert. Essentially, the quiet folks are pleased when we get results rather than when we get pats on the back.

Unfortunately, because this bias is so widespread, it impacts your life as an introvert at many levels.

  • It changes the dynamics of your relationships
  • It minimizes your chances of being promoted at work
  • It skews your pool of potential romantic partners
  • It makes you work harder to see the same sort of success
  • It equates to roughly $500,000 less in your pocket over the course of your lifetime

(Curious about how your introversion has affected your life? Many of the ways in which it has will shock you.)

But, if you are an introvert and you’re fighting this uphill battle just to be accepted as equal to an extrovert, what can you do to get any traction?

Three Ways to Crush the Stigma that Every Introvert is a Second-Class Citizen

Number one: Stop being shy

Not all introverts are shy. However, a good many of them are. And even if you aren’t chances are people will describe you that way. Why? Because your natural introverted personality traits like rejoicing in solitude, cherishing quiet moments, speaking only when you have something important to say, and either refusing to engage in confrontation of refusing to let that confrontation visibly raise your perceived emotional distress level makes you seem shy to everyone else.

Number Two:  Learn how to communicate better

Communication is a two-way street. Unfortunately, introverts and extroverts communicate differently. Extroverts tend to spout half-formed ideas from their mouths, looking for input to complete them. Introverts tend to wait until they’ve made a decision or formed a complete thought before speaking. Extroverts have a much harder time listening and digesting what anyone else has said. Introverts tend to be very analytical and do well at perceiving and remembering facts but often miss emotional clues to the meaning behind the words.

The easiest way to break free from this social stigma and be successful at work and happier in your personal life is to learn to communicate better. My book, An Introvert’s Guide to Wealth, has an entire section about communication skills including:

  • Active listening techniques
  • Tactical conversation tools you can use to guide communication
  • Non-verbal techniques that help extroverts understand the words coming out of your mouth better
  • Tips about perception that will help you understand how different types of people communicate and how you can shift your style to meet everyone’s needs

And there’s so much more.

Number Three:  Have faith in yourself

Like, unreasonable amounts of faith. Not to get too weird on you, but there may be evidence out there that the metaphysical realm can actually influence your life in very real ways (spotting synchronicity, and understanding the strange ways in which your mind actually creates its own subjective reality through perception).

When you understand that your thoughts may have very real and measurable effects on the outside world, then it’s not too far of a stretch to think that positivity begets positive results. Learning how to chase those negative thoughts away and replace them with faith that’s founded in understanding your own strengths and the power of the skills you possess can have amazing results!

Take Your Future In Your Hands

Your life won’t change unless you change it.

But change can be scary.

I created and wrote An Introvert’s Guide to Wealth to help you overcome those fears, take those steps to reshape yourself, your life, and your career in ways you previously would have thought impossible.

I did these things because I changed my life in very real ways—going from super-shy introvert to successful retail leader, doubling my salary in just three short years, earning promotion after promotion, accolade after accolade . . .

And I did it all without throwing away my introversion or forcing myself to fake being an extrovert. Instead, I embraced the very same (very quirky) traits that had set me apart from family, friends, and my peers all my life. I flipped them around and used them as tools to get the results I wanted. I know you can too!

Let’s do this, together.

Start here.

An Introvert’s Guide to a Wealthy Life is now available in Kindle, Paperback, and Hardcover editions!

How to Get Anyone to Say “Yes”

A Subtle Psychological Trick You Can Use to Nudge Decisions in Your Favor

How to use tag questions to get anyone to say "yes"

Introverts aren’t generally known for their conversation skills. As a rule, we like to stick to ourselves and spend far too much time in our own heads to succeed in a world that was created by and for extroverts. So, if we want to carve out a place for ourselves (either in our personal or professional lives) we have to learn conversation tactics to help us get what we want and need.

One of the biggest ways we can change our lives is buy learning how to get other people to say “yes.”

The Power of Yes!

Thinking of going to your boss and asking for a promotion or a raise? How are you going to get them give you the green light? Planning how to approach a potential romantic partner a t a party? How do you get them to agree to a date? Seeking capital to get your start-up business off the ground? How can you get an investor onboard?

In all these situations you need the listener to say “yes.” One little word—just three letters—yet so powerful!

And while there are a ton of variables that go into achieving a successful outcome in any of these situations—from wearing the right clothes, to having enough experience, to showcasing great financials—there is an easy psychological trick you can use to put the frosting on the cake and put your listener in a more agreeable mood.

Tag Questions Trick the Mind Into Agreeability

Derek Borthwick, author of How to Talk to Anybody: Learn the Secrets to Small Talk, Business, Management, Sales & Social Conversations & How to Make Real Friends, introduced me to a tool called Tag Questions. These questions are specifically created to generate a positive response—to get the listener to say “yes”—and are placed at the end of a statement.

For example: “I’m glad the sun has come out. It’s going to be a beautiful day, isn’t it?”

It may or may not turn out to be a beautiful day but the natural (and expected) response to that question is “yes.”

Although tag questions can be used in any situation from the board room to the bar room, Borthwick mentions tag questions in conjunction with sales pitches. Studies have found that people will be more likely to buy a product or service when asked if they have simply said “yes” several times before being asked.

This phenomenon happens at the subconscious level. We repeatedly agree with a person’s statements and it shifts our mind to be more apt to say “yes” even when we’re unsure if we actually agree!

This tactic is widely used in psychotherapy and hypnosis the generate susceptibility and a “therapeutic alliance.” It’s actually called The Yes Set.

How Does the Yes Set Work?

It sounds too simple to be true:  by getting someone to say “yes” to disparate tag questions you’re able to subtly change their attitude and overcome mental obstacles to “buying” what the speaker is selling.

But when you dig into the mental mechanics of it, it’s not so hard to understand why it works. People like to be liked. We also like to be around people like us. We gravitate toward individuals who have the same hobbies, attitudes, and speech patterns as us—even body language plays a tremendously important role in how we feel about people we haven’t even met.

Tag questions allows us to use subtle suggestibility to create:

  • Authority
  • Comradery
  • Feelings of good will

All of these can effectively change how a listener perceives a speaker on very basic levels. Therefore, if the speaker then proposes we go out to dinner Saturday night or that they deserve a 15% raise because they’ve worked so hard, we’re more likely to say “yes.”

Groundwork is Essential for Tag Questions to Work

While the Yes Set is powerful, it won’t move mountains by itself. If a listener already has existing assumptions or feelings about the speaker, those must be overcome first through positive social interaction, effective communication, and presentation of facts that paint the speaker in a good light.

However, if the subject has no preconceived notions about the speaker or if they already like the listener, the power of the Yes Set can be tremendous. This tool can reap significant financial benefits for folks promoting their products or services to targeted audiences. It can also change the course of a career if your boss already likes you. It can even change the dynamic in a long-standing personal relationship to a more positive note.

Next time you’re in a conversation, sprinkle tag questions throughout your conversation and see first-hand how this psychological tactic really works!

An Introvert’s Guide to a Wealthy Life is now available in Kindle, Paperback, and Hardcover editions!

Controlling Someone Else’s Reality

How to manipulate someone's perception of you to change their reality and get the results you need to get ahead in your professional career, earn more money, and live a wealthier life.

How Skillfully Manipulating Conversations and Communication Can Get You the Results You Need

The mind works in mysterious ways. We’ve seen how it can take the input from your five senses and twist it to fit into a vision that’s unique to you. We’ve also seen how it can (with scientifically measurable results) change the real world through ways that physicists are just now beginning to understand. It all hinges around perception–your mind’s ability to make sense of the world as you see it. So, if your perception is your reality, you can learn to control other people’s perceptions to make their reality what you need it to be.

We’re not talking about real mind control through the internet like researchers at The University of Washington seemed to demonstrate in 2013. Nor are we talking about Gaslighting like The Guardian warned us all against. We’re talking about skillfully spotting and understanding communication clues other people are giving you and formulating your response to subtly influence opinions of you and outcomes of conversations.

This is a useful tip for introverts to learn because we’re not naturally the center of attention in any gathering and sometimes (whether we like it or not) we need to be. If we’re gunning for a promotion at work, if we’re trying to showcase the value we bring to the company, if we’re trying to manage difficult employees or coworkers, we need to learn how to read people, then feed them the information they need to make the decisions we want them to.

Being a Full-Body Listener

Listening to the other people in the conversation is the first–and most important part–of this not-so-nasty scheme. But it’s not enough to simply hear the words coming out of their mouths. You really have to take in all the energy they’re putting out verbally, physically, and mentally. Use all of that to really understand what they’re saying (and what they want you to hear). Doing so will help you formulate the correct response.

People communicate on so many levels–some research even confirms electromagnetic direct brain-to-brain communication–that can be almost impossible to get the straight dope without digging far below the surface. Below are a few tips on how to become a full-body listener and really get to the heart of a conversation.

  • Active Listening–This set of techniques can not only help you understand what people are really saying but will help them feel validated (and valued) as well. Researchers at Duke University have pinpointed three solid habits for good active listening.
    1. Leave Distractions Aside: Make sure the speakers know they have your full attention
    2. Be Mindful of Your Body Language: Sit close, incline your head, hold eye contact, make positive acknowledgements (nods, etc.)
    3. Ask for Clarification: Summary what the speaker has said then ask specific questions to confirm or deny your assumptions.
  • Read Their Body Language–Look for clues in the way their holding themselves: arms close to the body or open and expressive, eyes focused on you or wandering around the room, body erect and uncomfortable or relaxed. All of these subtle hints will let you know if they’re being genuine, snarky, fearful, engaged, or bored to tears.
  • Letting Silence Speak for You–Derek Borthwick, author of How to Talk to Anybody, has an interesting technique to illicit more information when a speaker is reluctant to give it up: silence. Uncomfortable silence. It will make people’s brains go into high gear and they’ll speak to fill it–often giving away more info and opinion than they had intended to.

Communicate Your Intentions

You can’t assume that the other people in the conversation are understanding everything you’re saying as deeply as you’d like them to. The old trick about speaking as if to a child or to someone that knows absolutely nothing about the subject is a good technique to use but even then you may lose some of your followers. Sometimes, you can’t even assume they’re listening to you at all.

That’s why you have to hammer home your point as quickly and succinctly as possible:

  1. Minimize small talk–it’s a time waster than can lead you astray.
  2. Get the recipient engaged with the conversation (usually by asking them bout themselves or their role in what you’re discussing).
  3. In certain circumstances–employee/employer relations–it’s appropriate to ask them to reiterate your point so you know that they got it.

Here are a few more tips you can use to make sure your presentation goes as smoothly as possible.

  • Avoid Confusion–Prepare your conversations in your head before, if you can. Take a moment during the conversation to ensure the words come out right. Pay attention to your speech.
  • Get Out of Your Own Head–Don’t let your own doubts derail the conversation. Getting wound up about what the listener may be thinking about you or what you’re saying often spirals out of control.
  • Don’t Try Too HardStephanie Vozza, writing for Fast Company, says that overcompensating is the easiest way to lose your credibility. Instead, be your authentic self and bring the same game every time.

Be Bold and Don’t Get Lost in the Weeds

There comes a moment in every conversation where your point has to get across or the whole endeavor is a waste of time. This is the point of no return during which you have to be direct, decisive, and bold–often to a point just shy of rudeness.

Introverts will often couch their main point in a lot of extraneous talk because we’re very aware of the listener’s emotional response to what we have to say. However, doing that can water down your main idea, lead to confusion, and may function as a sign of deference to the listener (which can be terrible for employer/employee relations in the long run).

Instead, clearly make a bold statement. It’s uncomfortable but when pulled off correctly it showcases your idea, your courage, and your value to the team.

“I don’t believe in going around the block to go next door; I believe in direct communication. I believe in saying, ‘Here’s what I heard. Is that what you were told? If so, I’d like to present my side of the story.’”

Roberta Matuson, author of Can We Talk? Seven Principles for Managing Difficult Conversations at Work.

This is all great advice if you’re driving the conversation or are politely given the chance to express your message. However, we all know there are times when you feel as if you can’t get a word in edgewise.

Hijack the Conversation (The Right Way)

“’He who speaks, controls’. . . I had always believed that statement to be true. We see it all the time — at networking events, bars, and especially now in political debates. Whoever is louder, more verbose, and more theatrical dominates. Points are given to those who put on a show.”

Dave Schools

Have you ever tried to have a two-way conversation with a boss who talks too much? Or maybe you’ve spoken with a coworker or employee who takes every opportunity to go off on tangents about how previous managers have done things in the past. Sometimes problematic conversations devolve into tit-for-tat finger pointing and blame assignment or contests in which the participants try to one-up each other with sob stories.

None of that is helpful or to the point but how to you break in?

With a technique called cognitive incision. The basic premise is that if you tactfully insert a strategic question, the speaker has to shift his thought pattern and what he’s talking about to answer that question. This helps you steer the talk away from harmful or wasteful topics back to where it should be. Often the question needs to be either shocking, comedic, or witty because it has to be big enough that it takes a moment for the respondent to think about their answer. This beat is important–it’s the “incision” from which the tactic got it’s name.

To use cognitive incision, you must listen closely to the speaker, track their statements, and predict where they are going. The sharpness of your question is absolutely crucial. It cannot be simplistic, easily dismissed, or nominal. It should be relevant and well-timed. Maybe humorous. It should go off like a curiosity detonator in people’s minds.

Dave Schools

Dave Schools, Founder of Entrepreneur’s Handbook and Crypto Handbook, uses the clip from Downton Abbey below to illustrate how the question of “what is a week-end?” completely shifts the tone, the topic, and the destination of a conversation.

But sometimes it’s not enough just to shift the conversation. Sometimes you need to control it. In those cases, you have to stop the intended listener from ranting, reminiscing, or waxing poetic and get to the point you need to discuss. Derek Borthwick, author of How to Talk to Anybody, has identified an easy way to do just that with one simple word.

Pick a strategic point in the other person’s soliloquy and insert “and.” Follow that “and” immediately with what you intended to say.

The word “and” is important here because it allows the other person to assume you agree with the point they just made without you actually having to agree with it. It also breaks their tirade and allows you the opportunity to insert your thoughts into the conversation.

Practice Makes Perfect–find Your Guinea Pigs

Instead of jumping in feet-first and hijacking the Monday staff meeting, practice on a more receptive audience first. Look for conversations with friends and family in which you can use these techniques to subtly shift conversations, insert your thoughts, and really control the outcome of the interaction. Once you’ve built up some skill and confidence, attacking those big interaction (with your boss, a potential employer, a problem coworker) will seem a lot easier.

An Introvert’s Guide to a Wealthy Life is now available in Kindle, Paperback, and Hardcover editions!

Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are

Reshaping the Way the World Sees You (and How You Act in It)

In the video above, noted researcher Amy Cuddy explains that how we use our bodies (both unconsciously and consciously) can have a dramatic effect not only on how other perceive us but how we see and express ourselves.

Awkwardness is Our Armor

As an introvert, it’s easy to feel awkward. We don’t know how to use our hands when speaking to a crowd, where to hold our arms when silently waiting for the bus, how our “Resting Bitch Face” makes the whole world think we’re grumpy.

If you’ve ever been super-self-conscious about how you come off to the world, this video can be truly eye-opening. Cuddy’s research shows–without a doubt–that our posture can not only shape how people see us but how our bodies physically (and physiologically) react.

She goes on to cite studies that use “likeability” to determine whether participants suspect a specific doctor will be sued or not. In short, the study found that people’s assumptions about the doctor’s fate were overwhelmingly shaped by whether the doctor’s posture, facial expressions, and overall body language caused the participant to view them as “nice.”

All of this should come as no surprise to introverts like us. Our poor posture or awkward gesture or unexpressive features have been causing problems for us with other people all our lives. However, the most surprising thing I pulled from it is that our body language can actually change who we become!

Cuddy, who studied “powerful people” and “non-powerful people” in various interactions and through various methods actually found surprising physiological links between automatic bodily responses and posture!

The Power of The Power Pose

Specifically, this research found that people who were perceived as powerful, who portrayed themselves as powerful, or those who innately believed themselves to be powerful had higher levels of testosterone (a performance-enhancing hormone linked to stamina, endurance, thought clarity) and lower levels of cortisol (the so-called stress hormone linked to all sorts of bad stuff including belly fat retention).

Shockingly, scientific research shows that role changes can also have these measurable effects. This can include stepping into a leadership role, taking on new responsibilities, or simply standing in what Cuddy calls a “high-power pose.” (Think Wonder Woman/Superman hands-on-hips stuff!)

The Real Science Behind Power Poses

Before you dismiss this as New Age mumbo jumbo or the same old mind over matter stuff you’ve read about for years, take a look at the numbers.

Hormonal Changes Brought On by Two-Minute Poses

Cuddy’s team found that by simply having participants pose in either high-power poses or low-power poses they could dramatically alter hormone levels.

For example, those who adopted high-power poses saw an incredible 20% increase in Testosterone levels. Conversely, those who adopted slouched, closed off low-power poses saw their testosterone decrease by 10%.

Stress-inducing cortisol also reacted dramatically. High-power posers saw a 20% decrease in cortisol levels while low-power posers had an average stress hormone increase of 10%.

Keep in mind, these dramatic results were created by simply having the participant stand (or sit) in a prescribed pose for just two minutes!

But what does this really mean? Well, Cuddy and her team used risk aversion a measure of how much those hormonal changes actually affected participants using risk aversion measurements. When given the opportunity to gamble, 86% of power-posing, testosterone-enjoying participants put money on the line. That’s compared to just 26% of low-power posers.

Simply changing the way you hold your body when you’re out and about in the world, dealing with a boss at work, speaking to strangers at a gathering, or conversing with a loved can actually change:

  • How you’re perceived
  • How you feel about yourself
  • How you approach various situations

An Introvert’s Guide to a Wealthy Life is now available in Kindle, Paperback, and Hardcover editions!

You’re an Introvert. Your Boss Isn’t. Now What?

Potential Recipe for Professional Disaster Or an Opportunity for Personal Growth?

Introvert. Wallflower. Cerebral. A thinker. That’s what people call us. We’re quiet. Analytical. Thoughtful. In control of our emotions (at least those we express to the outside world anyway). But what happens when you find yourself working under someone who is the complete opposite? How do you, an introvert, work successfully under an extrovert?

Susan Cain wrote an interesting book a few years ago called Quiet:  The Power of Introverts In a World that Can’t Stop Talking. This was really one of the first books to address introversion as a powerful tool we can tap into to improve our personal and professional lives. The skillset that’s often portrayed as detrimental, comical, or quirky is the exact same skill set we can use to really succeed, get better jobs, and build our wealthy lives.

Susan gave an interview to Time Magazine in which she discussed multiple ways introverted employers can not only relate to their extroverted bosses but really prosper under this strangely symbiotic relationship.

Continue reading “You’re an Introvert. Your Boss Isn’t. Now What?”

How to Deal With Difficult People

How Your Analytical Brain Can Help You Cope With Poisonous Influences

People. They can be your most influential cheerleaders or they can be the biggest roadblock in your path to finding true wealth, achieving a sort of happiness, and living the life you deserve. Unfortunately, if you’ve chosen to take life by the horns and really go for it, you’re going to have to learn how to interact, manage, navigate around, and ignore people.

I’ve always had a good instinct for people—I can read them in minutes and pinpoint what kind of person they are shortly after meeting them. Are they friendly, eager, productive, lazy, positive, a downer? My instincts are rarely wrong and people don’t often change of their own accord. Unfortunately, as easy as it is for me to near-instantly figure out if I’m going to like a person or not, I never had the skillset to effectively manage my relationship with any of those folks.

In my personal life problem people repeatedly got in my face, annoyed me, or hung around when I didn’t want them to. I found myself in hundreds of uncomfortable situations and conversation from which I didn’t know how to extricate myself. In my professional life, those problem people were often in positions over me and through ignorance, malice, or just bald indifference made my life difficult.

My first response was simply to clam up and wait for the interaction to pass. When that failed or when I didn’t feel I had the mental resources to even manage indifferent silence, avoidance was my tool of choice. Stay home. Call out sick. Beg off.

But you’re not going to get far in life by avoiding every uncomfortable interaction. Fortunately, I found an amazing resource that gave me the power to identify personality types and tactics I now use regularly to deal directly with each of those problem individuals in my life.

Continue reading “How to Deal With Difficult People”

The Power of Introverts: a Ted Talk by Susan Cain

How Introverts Can Learn to Thrive in a World Created by (and for) Extroverts

In the video, Susan warms up the crowd by telling a story about the first time she was sent to summer school as a nine-year-old. Her parents packed a suitcase full of books for her to read because it seemed like a perfectly normal thing to do. However, Susan was immediately hit by the realization that this summer camp was to be more like a “Keg party without any alcohol” from the very first day. Not only did her fellow campers ostracize her but the “adult” camp counsellors told her to “work really hard” at being outgoing.

Unconscious Bias Shapes How the World Thinks About Introverts (and How We Think About Ourselves)

This story shines a light on a very powerful bias that many people either don’t know about or don’t like to admit has such a strong hold on our lives:

The world has been trying to tell us that being an introvert is wrong, bad, or just slightly incorrect for as long as we can remember!

This bias has been internalized by so many introverts (and extroverts alike) that we’ve adapted to a history of “self-negating choices made reflexively.”

Continue reading “The Power of Introverts: a Ted Talk by Susan Cain”