(Goalcast | Matt Valentine) Sometimes, it can be hard to balance introversion with the desire to connect with friends and family.
On one end, you just want to lock yourself away in the comfort of your castle and read a book, binge on Netflix, peruse social, or slave away at your craft. On the other, you sincerely want to connect with other human beings because it makes you feel good.
It’s a complete misconception that as an introvert we don’t like interacting with other people. We love it, it’s just more taxing for us, and we also love the comforts of our solitary space and need a good part of our time to be with ourselves alone.
That whole apparent contradiction leads introverts to be wholly ineffective at interacting socially. So, how can you be more social if you’re introvert?
Fortunately, that’s something anyone can learn because it mostly just requires you to put yourself out there and practice. However, there are some things you can do to make things a lot easier on you.
Nothing terrifies me more than being social.
– Daphne Guinness
Here’s how to be more social if you’re an introvert.
Gather, and practice, some conversation starters
One of the toughest things about socializing as an introvert is the nervousness that often takes over. That combined with the fact that our introversion generally makes us less experienced in conversation means we freeze up often and have no idea where to go after “hi”.
The ironic thing is most people, including introverts, can converse easily and naturally once a conversation gets going. It’s just getting things started that is difficult.
That’s why some simple conversation starters can go a long way. With a few handy talking points practiced, like “If you could keep one book on your nightstand, what would it be?” or “What’s your favorite T.V. show?” you have a way of getting yourself unstuck.
Then place yourself in the right state of mind before stepping into a social setting
Now that you’ve got some great conversation starters in your tool belt, it’s time to place yourself into the right state of mind before going out. There are two aspects to this.
First, take some time to go to your calm place and relax. Find your center so that when you’re ready to go out you can act from a place of maximum clarity, self-control, and relaxation. This will make a big difference when you’re socializing.
Second, once you’ve taken time to center yourself, once it’s time to go out place yourself into a more extroverted start of mind. In other words, stand up tall, get excited about going out, and maybe even force a smile.
John Zelenski, Ph.D., and his associates at Carleton University studied what happens when introverts adopt more extroverted personality traits (even if they know they’re faking it). The results showed that doing so made the participants happier, likely due to the positive feedback they received in social settings.
Ready to head out? Tag team with a partner
You’re going out to socialize anyway, why not go with someone that can serve as your partner? By going to a party or similar get-together with someone you know and care about, and who isn’t exactly like you (in other words, they won’t let you shy away in a corner), you can give yourself a big boost.
Instead of having to work up all that courage yourself, your partner can help encourage and motivate you to socialize and back you up in a group setting when you stumble.
And don’t be afraid of taking a break
Introverts are unique in that they grow fatigued when continuously placed into social settings.
As mentioned earlier, it’s not that we don’t like talking to other people, it’s that our ability to take in the sensory information around us is heightened so we become exhausted more easily when around large groups.
Because of this, you shouldn’t knock yourself over needing to take a break every once in a while.
If many of your friends are extroverts and they’re trying to get you to go out each weekend but you just don’t think you can manage it, that’s okay. Similarly, if you’re at a five-day convention and you’re running on empty by day three and have to go home, that’s okay too.
There are no pure introverts or pure extroverts, it’s more of a scale than two separate camps. Take the time necessary to get to know that part of yourself, paying attention to what your body and mind are telling you, so you can find your optimal balance.