Everything you need to know about befriending an introvert
Even though it’s great to be friends with people just like you, sometimes it can be more beneficial to extend your horizons and find people who are completely different from yourself. This may mean reaching out to that person who comes from a different culture than you, or talking to the person who likes that musician you can’t stand, or maybe it’s as simple as befriending someone with a different personality than you. If you’re an introvert, find yourself an extrovert who can force you to do things outside your comfort zone. If you’re an extrovert, find an introvert that will mellow you out.
Because extroverts tend to be more vocal than introverts, it’s usually easier for introverts to understand extroverts than the other way around. Introverts tend to be closed off and seemingly unemotional, which often confuses extroverts. More than that, extroverts sometimes have a hard time figuring out how to best care for their introverted friends because they push extroverted methods onto people who do not act like extroverts. Therefore, in order to help that introvert you’re befriending and you as the extrovert, here’s everything you need to know about befriending an introvert, spoken by a true introvert myself.
They need time alone
What extroverts often fail to understand is that introverts need alone time to recharge and get energy. Even if we love your company, we are not afraid to choose ourselves over spending time with you. It may make us seem selfish, but most of the time for extroverts it works the other way around; you probably recharge by spending time with people.
Ask the right questions
It may often feel like introverts don’t share in conversations because they don’t want to talk or they don’t have a lot to say. However, for many of us, that isn’t necessarily the case. Sometimes we just do not feel like our contribution is worthy of being shared, so we wait until we are prompted to speak up. As a result, we end up not saying anything because we were waiting for a question that never came. In order to help your introverted friend, and to get to talk more with them, try asking more specific questions about their life or about something they’ve been referencing recently. Even if you ask something as simple as “What are you excited about?” you’ll probably get a better response than if you just asked, “So how are you?”
Stop the small talk
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but introverts do not like small talk. We’d much rather sit in silence with you than talk painfully about the weather. If you’re going to become friends with an introvert, you should probably think of some more interesting conversation topics. Bring up accessible topics that don’t feel like small talk such as movies or books or sports. Or, better yet, just get comfortable with silence. Many extroverts feel the need to fill every moment of conversation with words and stories, and those are great at times, but sometimes it’s supportive to just sit in silence with your introverted friend.
Give them an opening
Similar to asking the right questions, allow your introverted friend time to contribute to the conversation. Extroverts sometimes feel like bulldozers because they will talk right through a pause in the conversation where introverts lurk with their contributions. Whether it’s sitting in silence for just a moment or allowing the introvert a moment to consider a question, try to give them an opening where they can choose to speak up or add their two cents. Most of the time introverts are just waiting to contribute until you’re done with your speech.
Remember what they’re passionate about
When you’re befriending an introvert, one of the best things you can do is remember their passions. This could mean bringing it up in conversation and asking them how their painting is going or what their new favorite cooking dish may be. It could also mean sending them cute links that remind you of them on Facebook or getting them a birthday present that really plays into one of their passions. Introverts feel most heard not when you listen to them, but when you regurgitate that listening back to show how much you do listen. Even a small gesture or conversation about something they love can show how much you care!
Invite them anyway
Clearly introverts like to be alone, and as a result, we can sometimes resort to canceling plans in order to have some alone time. More than that, we often say no a lot either because we do need alone time, or because we feel uncomfortable about certain activities. You may invite your introverted friend to a few things and find that they decline your invitation a lot. That doesn’t mean they don’t like being included or that they will always say no! The worst thing you can do is assume that they don’t care and stop inviting them. You may have to adjust to them rejecting you, but please do not give up on them! Invite your introvert friends anyway, because eventually they will say yes.