Introverts need people. This isn’t something you’ll hear about very often, though. Most of the time, you’ll either hear people who are critical of introverts complaining about how unsociable we are or you’ll hear introverts talking about how much we dislike being around other people.
Humans are social creatures, however. We have different preferences for how much and in what ways we socialize, but we all need other people. Being an introvert doesn’t mean you hate people. It just means that you’re born with a trait that makes you prefer the internal world. It means you re-charge better in quiet, low-stimulation environments, not that you do well in social isolation.
It’s no exaggeration to say that isolation can be deadly. Living in loneliness has a serious impact on our health. In fact, “The increased mortality risk is comparable to that from smoking. And loneliness is about twice as dangerous as obesity. Social isolation impairs immune function and boosts inflammation, which can lead to arthritis, type II diabetes, and heart disease” (“Loneliness Is Deadly” by Jessica Olien). And that’s just the physical health risks. Loneliness also damages our mental and emotional health, often leading to issues like increased stress, depression, and alcoholism (“The Dangers of Loneliness by Hara Estroff Marano).
So what’s an introvert to do? If you don’t like typical social events or groups, how do you avoid the mental and physical health risks of loneliness while also honoring your introverted nature?
This list includes tips for introvert-friendly ways to socialize with other people. Some of these assume you’re trying to meet new people, while others are great for doing with people you already know.
1) Attend An Interesting Event
It’s not all that difficult to find out about events going on in your local area. Check city websites, Google “local events,” or browse through events on Facebook. There’s bound to be something in the area that interests you and there are often options for small gatherings (like a morning yoga meet-up) as well as larger ones. If you’re at an event that interests you, you have a good chance of meeting people with similar interests and perhaps even finding a local group to join.
2) Join A Group or Take A Class
Similar to finding local events, you can often find groups that meet for a specific purpose. Book clubs at the local library or book store, craft-making groups, professional organizations, a church, classes at the community college — all of these have potential to connect you with people who share similar interests. In many cases, these groups are not overly large and you have a better chance of finding introvert-friendly conversation opportunities.
Finding a cause you care about and volunteering is another great way to meet people with similar values. Plus you’ll be doing good at the same time! You’ll have a chance to help a cause you care about while also interacting with people who care about the same things that you do.
4) Strategize Your Socializing
If you want to meet people you need to get out of your house. Interactions that only happen online don’t make people less lonely. You have to have in-persona interactions. That doesn’t mean you run into a coffee shop during the busiest part of the day and just hope you meet someone. You plan your socializing more strategically, like going to that coffee shop on a slow night when a musician who you enjoy is playing and you’re more likely to meet someone you might connect with.
5) Accept Invitations
I know it’s tempting to turn down all the invitations that could take you out of your cozy introvert nest after work or on the weekend. But when you get an invitation to an event, you have a built-in reason for being there and for connecting with people. You don’t have to say “yes” to everything of course, but if something sounds like it might be interesting go for it and set yourself a goal of talking to at least one or two people there.
6) Host Gatherings
Once you know people who you could invite, hosting a gathering is one of the best ways to ensure that your interactions with people are introvert-friendly. When you’re the host, you control how many people are there, what the purpose of the event is, and how long it lasts.
7) Start A Group
If you can’t find a group you want to join, then make one. Invite some friends to go kayaking, set up a weekend each month when you meet to play games, or plan excursions to local sites/events of cultural interest. Some of my friends and I started meeting once or twice a month to play games (mostly tabletop RPGs, but also games like Dixit and Carcassonne) about a year ago and we’ve found it’s a great way to keep in touch and spend time together.
8) Use The Phone
While I’m inclined to agree with the Dowager Countess of Grantham that it’s hard to tell whether the telephone is an instrument of communication or of torture, there are time when it can be useful. In-person socialization is best but if your friends are long distance (as many of mine are) phone calls can help combat your loneliness much better than a text can.
9) Opt For Small Groups
Whether you’re organizing an event or deciding whether or not to attend one, doing your socializing in small groups is typically more introvert friendly. Fewer people is less overwhelming and provides more opportunities for the one-on-one interactions most introverts prefer. Also, remember that if you go to a large event with one or two friends you can often get the feeling of being in a small group even though the event is a large group. Going with a small group of trusted friends can make larger events more introvert-friendly.
10) Guide Conversations
One thing I’ve noticed about myself and many other introverts is that we have a tendency to let other people guide the conversation. We just go along with whatever and sit there wondering why we’re bored. But if you go into socializing with some conversation starters in mind you can help keep the conversation going and do it in a way that feels comfortable for you. Try asking things like, “What’s something new you learned lately?” or “How did you end up in your current job?” These types of questions get people talking about themselves and show you’re interested in them, which makes them think you’re a good conversationalist.
And there you have it — 10 tips for introvert friendly socialization. What would you add to this list? Any tips for making new friends or spending time with them in an introvert-friendly way?
Featured image credit: Free-Photos via Pixabay