She sits quietly at the table with this deep wrinkle in the middle of her forehead between her eyebrows. She doesn’t say much, but instead gazes intensely and seems to be deep in thought. About what? Who knows!
Conversations take place around her, and yet she says very little.She occasionally stands next to her husband or a close friend and participates in their conversations, but she rarely starts one of her own. She smiles and makes eye contact yet refrains from holding that glance long enough to invite a conversation. Does she even want to talk to anyone?
Perhaps you’ve seen a person like this maybe at church or even attending a business seminar. Maybe you wonder if she’s even happy to be there. Sometimes, maybe you see her reading. Really? Reading in a crowd of people?
She seems smart, yet you aren’t sure if she really wants to talk to anyone. You wonder why she doesn’t talk much. I mean, who doesn’t like to talk, right?
Should you approach her? Would she just ignore you or perhaps find an excuse to escape?
If you’ve ever crossed paths with an introvert, perhaps this description sounds familiar. Many of my extroverted friends said they wondered most of these things about me at some point. Fortunately, they now accept that I simply am not as social as them.
5 Tips For Interacting With An Introvert
The following will help extroverts feel more comfortable approaching an introvert who seems content left alone as well as better understand what’s happening behind that intense gaze.
- Approach them. Introverts generally want connection, especially if they put themselves in a social setting. The more you approach them, the more likely they will reciprocate in the future because they are comfortable and feel safe doing so.
- Let them listen. They are good at it, and they have less of a need to talk than you do. Many extroverts find that relationships with their introverted friends allow them to sort out their own thoughts in the way extroverts prefer… out loud.
- Let them think. Introverts typically take longer to form their responses than extroverts. Silence really is okay. Be sure to pause occasionally because after thinking for a while, introverts usually have something very valuable worth hearing.
- Revisit conversations. Chances are, an introvert has done some thinking since the last time you talked and has more to say on previous conversations. Go ahead and revisit what you talked about the last time you chatted.
- Remember that it’s all about energy. Introverts get their energy from time alone. Extroverts get their energy from interacting with others. Neither is wrong but both impact an individual’s approach to social situations.
Introverts In The Church
In Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture, Adam McHugh looks in detail at the life of an introvert and his/her place in the Christian church. What McHugh says applies really to introverts in any organization though.
The book provides advice and insight into how introverts view the world and how they can find their place in an extroverted culture. The above 5 tips were not directly taken from McHugh’s book but from this author’s life as an introvert; however, they are certainly infused within the book.
McHugh talks about how introverts feel constantly pushed to be more outgoing and to change who they are at the core to properly serve Christ. With good intentions, extroverts sometimes encourage introverts toward extroversion not realizing that this is like asking a cat to be a dog.
At their core, introverts want desperately to not just be who God created them to be and for others to embrace and support them in that endeavor. They want to be authentic, and as McHugh says,
“the central component of character is authenticity. Someone with character acts in unison with his or her God-given nature.”
These 5 tips on how to interact with an introvert will hopefully serve as a starting point for extroverts who struggle understanding their less social counterparts.
DISCUSSION: What tips, thoughts, ideas do you have for introvert/extrovert interaction?