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This is the complete guide on how to be high energy, even if you’re a low energy person. We’re going to learn the secrets from naturally high energy people and how we can change our own social energy.
- Chapter 1: How to quickly come off as more high energy.
- Chapter 2: Truly becoming more high energy as a person
- Chapter 3: How to match others’ energy levels.
1. Speak louder, but not necessarily faster
This is my favorite trick: To be seen as high energy, you don’t need to make everyone laugh or talk to everyone in a room. The single most important thing to change is how loud you talk.
People with a soft voice are seen as low energy, people with a louder voice are seen as high energy.
Now, here’s where I used to mess up: Just because you speak louder doesn’t automatically mean that you need to speak faster. People who speak too fast can actually come off as nervous.
So my first trick to be more high energy is to speak as fast as the ones you’re talking to, and if you have a soft, quiet voice, speak up.
So, how do you actually speak louder if you’re nervous or don’t have a naturally strong voice?
In chapter 2 of this guide, I talk about how to deal with nervosity, and that’ll help you speak louder.
Here’s my advice when it comes to technique: I learned to talk louder by practicing whenever I was home by myself or driving somewhere.
If you know that you have a soft voice, make it your mission to practice speaking loudly whenever you’re by yourself. Like any muscle, your diaphragm will become stronger with practice.
To get a loud voice, practice speaking loudly whenever you have the chance.
2. Use tonal variation
This trick is almost as powerful as speaking louder to come off as more high energy.
Remember to vary between high and low tones.
Here’s an example where I say the same sentence with and without tonal variation. Which do you think sound the most energetic?
3. Smile, but smile the right way and at the right times
Imagine in front of you a quiet person with a blank face. See that person? Good. Now, imagine a quiet person with a warm smile on their face. Something as simple as smiling more helps us come off as more high energy.
However, don’t force your smile or smile constantly. You see, smiles are tricky in that sense. If we smile constantly, that comes off as nervous. If we just smile with our mouth, but not our eyes, we come off as nervous and insincere. We want to smile with our eyes.
The difference between smiling not using our eyes (to the left) and with our eyes (to the right)
It sounds strange, but if you greet people you meet with a warm, sincere smile, that make people see you as more high energy.
4. Use your self-confident voice (even when you don’t feel confident)
I once came across this guy who everyone was drawn to. Everything he said sounded like he was Mr. Confident himself. He wasn’t cocky-annoyingly confident. It was just like he never came off like if he second-guess himself.
He was inspiring to me because hanging out with him taught me that if you’re gonna say something, there’s no point in sounding like you’re second-guessing yourself.
Here’s an example:
Practice speaking with a confident voice. I’ll make you sound more high energy.
5. Dare to assume that people will like you using the “dog-trick”
I remember how every time I walked up to a group of people a few years ago I got this strong feeling “they won’t like me”.
Since then, that fear has disappeared. But it didn’t go away until I dared to be friendly first.
You see, if you are uncertain whether people will like you, you’ll act reserved, and people are going to be reserved back. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. “I knew it! They don’t like me”.
To break out of that, we can learn from the psychology behind why most people love dogs: People love dogs because dogs love people.
Show that you like people, and people will like you back.
Here’s an example:
If I come across someone I’m just superficially acquainted with, I can choose between playing it safe and make a subtle nod and then look away (or even pretend that I don’t see them), or I can do the “dog-trick” and take for granted that they’ll appreciate that I talk with them. So with a big smile, I say “Hi! How have you been since last time?”
This has worked 100% of the time for me. Not once in my life have I received a bad response if I dared to show liking.
So far, I’ve talked about how to look like you have high energy. But what if you want to feel that energy from the inside? That’s what we’re going to talk about next: How to, when you need it, become high energy.
6. Focus outward
Feeling nervous and self-conscious goes hand-in-hand with having low energy:
For some of us, being low energy is a subconscious strategy to avoid people’s attention.
I’ve learned a trick that removes a lot of that nervosity. What I’ve learned is to force myself to focus outward.
You see, as soon as I was about to go to a party or walk up to a group of people, I started thinking about ME. What will people think about ME? Will people think I’M weird? Etc.
Naturally, that made me self-conscious (and self-consciousness makes us low energy because we don’t dare to take up space)
Then I learned about what therapists call “Attentional Focus Training”. I learned to, whenever I got self-conscious, simply focus my thoughts to my surroundings. When you focus outward, you ask yourself things like “I wonder what they are up to?” “I wonder what she’s working with?” “I wonder where he’s from?”
Practicing focusing outward in your next social interaction. You’ll notice how it’s hard at first, but you can rewire your brain with some practice to be preoccupied with what happens around you.
(This also makes it easier to come up with conversation topics and things to say. When you focus outwards, your natural curiosity makes questions pop up in your head automatically, like in the examples I wrote a few paragraphs up)
In other words: To avoid feeling self-conscious, ask yourself questions about the people around you to take your mental focus off of you.
7. Rewire your brain to be OK with making social mistakes
Did you know that socially anxious people are over-active in the part of the brain that handles making mistakes? (They’ve seen it in brain scans.) In other words, people with social anxiety are overly cautious about making mistakes (especially in front of others).
One mistake-minimizing strategy our brain uses is to take up less space and – correct – becoming more low energy. (That way, our brain “protects” us from being noticed by others)
Therapists who help people overcome social anxiety know this, and they teach their patients to make small mistakes deliberately.
That way, they re-configure the brain into understanding that social mistakes are FINE: Nothing bad happens. (Examples of practicing making social mistakes are to purposely have the t-shirt inside during a day, or to wait at red lights until someone honks).
If you worry about making social mistakes, I recommend you to deliberately making some. That will over time help you learn to care less about what others might think. When you do, it’s easier to be relaxed, take up more space, and be more high energy.
8. Visualize yourself as a high-energy person just before the event
Let’s make an exercise in your head that will instantly make you more high energy:
Visualize yourself at a party, and you’re the exact person you want to be. You smile, have a strong voice, you walk up and talk to people and enjoy your time. Spend a minute thinking about what that would look like…
Done? Good. Let’s call that person High Energy You.
Whenever you’re about to enter a social setting, think about High Energy You. Think about how that person would act. Go into and become that person. (This is a bit like how some really good actors turn into and truly become their characters on set).
The change you’ll experience is more profound than you might think:
Even if you fake high energy the first few times, you’ll over time be able to identify with being a high energy person.
When you identify with being someone, you become that someone.
9. Listen to energetic music on your way to the event
What music makes you happy and pumped? Studies show that music makes a massive change in how we feel. If I listen to happy, upbeat music, that makes me more high-energy.
10. Drink coffee
70-80% of the population gets more energetic drinking coffee (study). I get much more alert and talkative. If you feel slow or sleepy, drink coffee. Caffeine tablets and coke give a slightly different effect, so if you usually drink coke or energy drinks, try a coffee and see if there’s a difference in how it makes you feel.
11. Deal with anxiety and nervosity causing you to be too low energy
Sometimes, our low energy is because of anxiety or nervousness. (This doesn’t always have to be the case, but if you can relate to this, keep reading.)
If anxiety is the underlying cause, you want to deal with that issue first. You’ll still be able to ACT more high energy even if you’re anxious (which I talked about in chapter 3) but for a permanent effect, you want to deal with the root cause; the anxiety.
Dealing with anxiety is a big topic, but you can make massive improvements with the right tools!
I recommend you to read my guide specifically on how to stop being nervous.
12. Calibrate your fears about what people might think of you
Whenever I was about to attend a party, I got these visions that people maybe wouldn’t like me. For some of us, this belief was created back when we were kids. Perhaps we had a bad experience that made us believe that people aren’t friendly, or that they’ll judge you.
If this is you, let’s do what therapists call “attaining a realistic worldview”.
If you have a feeling that people won’t like you, let’s break that feeling down. Is it a reasonable assumption that people are going to dislike you or is it just an echo from your past?
Ask yourself this: Can you remember any time where it seemed like people liked you? I would guess so. In fact, I believe that you can come up with many examples of that. It’s likely that people will like you in the future if they did so previously, right?
Whenever you worry what people might think of you, remember times where people have been positive and approving toward you.
When I first started off, I thought there was an “optimal” energy level in social settings. There isn’t.
You want to match whatever energy level is in the room or the energy level of the person you’re talking to. If you are lower energy than people around you, you risk being seen as boring. If you are higher energy, you risk coming off as annoying.
13. Is it fake to build rapport?
With this in mind, we want to learn to gauge the energy level of others and adjust our level to what suits the situation. This is called building rapport, and it’s a fundamental part of forming deep connections.
Whenever I talk about rapport, some become a bit anxious.
“Isn’t it fake to build rapport?”
“Shouldn’t you just be who you are?”.
It’s not fake to build rapport: You have one energy level with your old grandma and another one with your friends. It’s human to be able to bring forth different nuances of who we are based on the situation.
What’s more, you’ll notice that you’ll be able to form deep connections with people much faster when you’re able to closely pick up on the mood of the situation and match it.
So. What are energy levels…really? And how do you actually march them?
14. The 4 types of social energy that people can have
Social energy varies along two scales. It goes from negative to positive and from low to high. Most people are somewhere in the middle of the scale.
Positive high energy: Someone with high social energy is not afraid to talk with a loud voice and has a cheerful and confident appearance. At a party, the person with the highest positive energy easily becomes the center of attention.
Positive low energy: This is what people usually call cool or pleasant. The person uses a calm voice and a laid-back body language. This is also the mode we often get into when we are in a safe environment with people we know.
Negative high energy: The person might talk too fast and be unfocused. This could be because he or she gets stressed by the situation or just comes from another stressful situation, such as a hectic day at work.
Negative low social energy: The person is timid and quiet and can be mistaken for not liking the person he or she talks to. The low energy is often caused by nervousness, tiredness or irritation. (Read the guide here: How to stop being the quiet one.)
15. Build rapport by being higher or lower energy
Meeting high energy with low energy and vice versa is more dangerous than most people think. Here is a story about what happened when two people met and differed too much in their social energy:
Joe was outgoing, loud and happy (positive high social energy). Sue was timid. She seldom spoke and people thought she was a bit stiff (negative low social energy).
The two were paired up for a blind date by their friends. Unfortunately, their date didn’t go that well and they just didn’t connect. Joe thought that Sue is was boring and Sue thought that Joe was mostly irritating. They never went on a second date, all because neither Joe nor Sue adjusted their social energy on the date.
This story tells us that you aren’t supposed to always aim for a specific energy, but instead adjusting it to fit the situation.
16. How to adjust energy levels
- If you talk to a person with negative or positive high energy, meet that person with positive high energy.
- If you talk to a person with negative or positive low energy, meet that person with positive low energy.
Read more: How to build rapport.
A person who does not adjust or who misadjusts his or her social energy will have a hard time at making friends. Let’s look at an example from one of our readers:
“Back then, the adrenaline used to start pumping every time I met new people.
It made me talk faster and I always fiddled with stuff in my hands or rubbed my fingers, like if I was on a caffeine high. I did make friends. But only with the other not-so-socially-skilled people around me.
They were behaving the same way that I did, so that is probably why we clicked. After I learned about social energy, I started to adjust my voice and body language to the person I talked to.
At the beginning, I still felt nervous, but I did not let it show. Suddenly I could make friends with people who didn’t have to be exactly like me.”
Pay attention to the energy level of the person you talk to.
- How fast are they talking?
- How loud are they talking?
- How energetic and enthusiastic are they?
You shouldn’t try faking enthusiastic. Instead, find a high energy level you feel comfortable with (Using any of the techniques in Chapter 1) and use that to match.
If someone is high energy or low energy because they are nervous around other people, meet them with positive high or low energy.
17. Use the “Lost twin” trick to be better at matching energy levels
This is my favorite exercise that’s helped me take giant leaps socially.
Think back to a person you last talk to. Now, imagine that you’re that person’s long lost twin.
This is just a thought exercise to help you pick up on people’s energy level. We’re not gonna try to clone people’s behavior, just be better at picking up on it.
Back to the person. If you were that person’s identical twin, how would you act? You’d have the same tone of voice, you have the same energy level, even the same posture, the same way of talking.
When you make this exercise, notice how much you’ve already picked up on that person’s manners.
Isn’t it surprising how much nuance you picked up about that person’s manners without even thinking about it when you met? That’s because we’re social being and our brains are amazing at picking up subtle tones. This exercise helps us listen to what our brain already had picked up on.
The next time you meet that person, you can bring forth part of yourself so that you can match that person’s manners. If you feel insecure of how to do that, you can play the interaction as a thought experiment in your head first.