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Angad Sharma
Angad Sharma

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Selective Extraversion

I went on as an observer, not a participant, for I do not think I ever spoke. I wanted to understand the issues under discussion, evaluate the arguments, see the calibre of the men involved

  • Nelson Mandela

For the longest time in my life, I was an introvert. Always shy and reluctant to speak in public situations. I was raised to believe that everything works out by-the-book, so I focussed all of my energy to be the right person, rather than an approachable person. Now I want you to take the book and toss it in the trash. Life never works out the way you intend to. And if it does then you are a lucky exception.

Now that your book is in the trash. Follow this mantra:

An oportuniity today, if not taken, is a painful memory tomorrow.

Oportunities that come your way will require that you step out of your comfort zone. For introverts, its talking to people, working in teams, articulating your ideas and pitching it in front of a greater audience. This is where selective extraversion comes to the rescue.

The following are some of my learnings along the way:

  • As mentioned above: an oportuniity today, if not taken, is a painful memory tomorrow. So if an oportunity invites you on stage, just do it!

  • What is the worst that can happen? Even if you screw up on stage or in a formal situation, everyone will eventually forget it and you'll gain your rep back.

  • Pick your battles. You don't have to be an extrovert in every situation. Hence the term selective extraversion.

  • Observe. You cannot add value to a conversation until you know where the partaking members are coming from.

  • Act like you own it. Whenever you go on stage, act like you own it. Remember, belief is everything, so convince yourself.

  • I got this last one from my brother. When anxious, shout a happy yelp. This converts all of the anxiousness into adrenaline and energy. Don't believe me? Try it!

Now 2 years later, I have taken part in 20+ hackathons, took 10+ seminars, pitched my ideas 30+ times, performed a song on stage 3 times, and just recently, made one Udemy course with 3000+ enrollments (till now).

It is a FREE course called: GetGoing, Introduction to Golang.

You are going to screw up

No matter how experienced a person is, they will always screw up in a public situation once or twice. Be it a minor hitch or choking on stage.

I screwed up the second time I went up on stage to give a song performace. I was on the stage with my guitar with 3 other people who were going to sing. My knees were shaking and my fingers were sweaty. I started playing the guitar and soon realized that it was untuned and the capo was not on the right fret. That performance was a disaster.

The worst thing that could have happened actually happened. A few weeks later, no one even remembers the performance, let alone the screw up. The crowd memory is very short, take advantage of it. The worst that can happen is not that bad!


Public speaking is a great way to score loads of adrenaline, and rep. Never let an opportunity slip by. Chuck the book down the drain. You make your own rep. No guidelines can do it for you.

PS: I am gonna be speaking at the Docker Chennai meetup in September. So if any of you guys are gonna be there, hit me up.

Top comments (2)

jwkicklighter profile image
Jordan Kicklighter

Overall, this article has some great points. I just want to clear up a common misconception that's stated in the title and throughout the post.

Shyness, nervousness, and poor people skills are not the same as introversion. Intro/extroversion are related to where one derives energy. I know many outgoing introverts and many quiet extroverts. Outgoing introverts are wonderful in group settings, but at the end of the day they need plenty of alone time to recharge. Quiet extroverts may not have the best crowd skills, but they still prefer to silently be near people rather than being alone.

What you share here is very valuable. Indeed, you should strive to be open, approachable, and friendly! Stepping out of your comfort zone is great! But if one is introverted, no amount of effort can help them be able to derive energy from crowds, just like extroverts can't derive energy from alone time. The "Selective Extroversion" you mention is really more of "Willingness to be Uncomfortable."

I only go to lengths to describe this because it can be taken as insulting to compare introversion to bad people skills. For example:

"For introverts, its talking to people, working in teams, articulating your ideas and pitching it in front of a greater audience."

The implication that introverts are unable to talk to people, work on a team, or even articulate ideas could easily be taken as an insult. One's need to solidarity should have no effect on their ability to do these things. There may be a decent correlation between these, but they are not equals.

Again, this is great advice! Thank you for writing it, and for trying to help others take a leap that you did 😊 Please just consider revisiting these terms and perhaps revising the wording of your advice. There are only 2 hard things in CS: invalidating cache and naming things.

l04db4l4nc3r profile image
Angad Sharma

Hi. Thank you for your valuable feedback. I can certainly see the ambiguity that can lead to the misconception that I was targeting introverts. I appreciate the time you took out to point it out in an elaborate way.