Notice an introvert at a party needing some space? Help them make their escape!
Introverts love being alone, so we can feel out of place in an extrovert-centric world. And when this happens, it’s good to know that we’re not alone, and there are other introverts out there who can relate to us and have our backs.
Yes, introverts usually recognize when other introverts are struggling. However, even introverts themselves can get caught up in extroverted behaviors and expectations. Even I – someone who writes about introverts – have done the latter on occasion. For example, I once stood in front of a classroom and encouraged quiet students to contribute to a discussion. Another time, I talked friends into going to a party. In those moments, I should have reminded myself that there are people who aren’t comfortable talking in front of a group or going out.
Here are ways introverts can look out for each other — and hopefully make the world more introvert-friendly in the process. Side note: Extroverts can do these things, too, but introverts have the perspective of needing these things themselves and regularly being in their fellow introverts’ shoes.
6 Ways Introverts Can Better Support Each Other
1. Bring each other into the conversation.
Let’s say there’s a lively conversation happening and your introverted friend clearly wants to share something. Maybe they’re trying to find the right words for their thoughts or maybe they’re struggling to jump into the conversation at all.
So, if you’re comfortable doing so, bring the friend into the conversation. For instance, if the group is talking about recent or upcoming adventures, and a friend is considering taking a solo trip, that’s your cue to say, “Suzi, you did something like that last year, right?”
When drawing another introvert into a conversation, keep it to simple questions that the introvert can briefly acknowledge. If they don’t want to say much, they’re not expected to elaborate. But if they do want to share more, your question leaves the door open for them to do so once they have the floor. Then maybe they’ll get to tell the group about the cool solo trip they took last year, and ask someone else a question. The point is: They’ll have the floor for however long they want it, which is sometimes difficult for introverts to get.
I struggle with this all the time — even jumping in to ask a question or make a brief point. It’s a moment when I feel invisible, and not in a good way. Someone is almost always faster than I am, and by the time I get the chance to speak, the conversation has moved on. (Side lesson here: Let’s all be more conscious of each other in conversations, meetings, and so forth!)
2. Recognize when another introvert needs a break.
Social interaction can quickly drain introverts’ batteries. Notice an introvert at a party needing some space? Whether that means finding a quiet spot to hang out, or needing to ditch altogether, help them make their escape! Your introvert friend may not feel comfortable slipping away or approaching the host and letting them know they’re leaving early (like really, really early). Having an introvert buddy system for social situations like this doesn’t hurt. Heck, you can even escape together if your own batteries are running low.
By contrast, if your introvert friend wants to stay at a party, but looks really uncomfortable propping up that wall over there, see point #1 above. Or go keep them company and help them prop up that wall.
And a tip here for party hosts: If you’re throwing a large bash, try to ensure you have spaces that are quiet and introvert-friendly, like a room that’s away from the loud music or a spot outdoors where people can gather or spend a minute alone.
3. Back an introvert up in an argument or tough conversation.
Introverts aren’t exactly known for liking confrontation. We may struggle to formulate a counterpoint or comeback in the moment, but think of the perfect one hours later. If we have the chance to prepare, we will — like if we have to ask for something at work that we know we’ll get pushback on or if there’s an issue we need to raise with a family member or friend that we know they won’t like hearing.
Ideally, we prefer not having any kind of confrontation in front of a group and would rather take a one-on-one approach if we work up the nerve to confront someone at all. Here’s another place where the buddy system works well — if one of you gets nervous or tongue-tied, you can back each other up.
Step in if you can, whether that means agreeing with a point they’re making or providing additional evidence to back it up. Worst-case, approach your fellow introvert afterward to let them know you’re there if they need to talk to someone.
This also applies if someone interrupts your introverted friend — bring the person who was interrupted back into the discussion. (“Suzi, what were you saying?”) After the interrupter recovers from their embarrassment, they’ll (hopefully) listen to the introvert.
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4. Give each other space, like after work or on the weekends.
An introvert’s personal bubble may be large, both physically and emotionally. Physically, even before social distancing became the norm, I hated standing close to other people in public or in general (unless they’re a friend or family member, when standing closer together feels more natural). Emotionally, I’ve always tended to keep to myself and have a very small circle of friends who know me well.
Remember that your fellow introverts need space, too, and recognize when your introverted family member, friend, or colleague needs time to themselves on a regular basis — not just if they’re socially drained. If they say they need some time in the morning to get going, or space to unwind after getting home from work, give them that space — and make sure others do, too. Don’t schedule an 8 a.m. meeting with that coworker if you can help it and don’t make your family member or friend go straight back out to dinner after they get home from work.
5. Recognize that introversion is not a one-size-fits-all thing.
Not all introverts will want to be left alone all the time. Some of us are more introverted, while others are less introverted. Some of us are extroverted introverts (yes, that’s a thing) who (occasionally) like spending a night out on the town and some of us want to live by ourselves in the wilderness. The takeaway here is that what works for you might not work for another introvert.
So… get to know the fellow introverts in your life. (After all, introverts do prefer deep and meaningful connections with people.) In doing so, you attune yourself to varying introvert needs and can better recognize when — and how — you can support those introverts.
6. Make others aware of introverts’ needs.
Introverts can easily recognize the situations above. But on the flip side, sometimes we’re in our own heads so much that we may not notice what’s going on around us. And it may not always be easy to recognize fellow introverts. For instance, I regularly have to put on an extroverted mask in certain situations, like at a typically “extroverted” job. So, sometimes, I have to tell people I’m an introvert.
One way to make people more aware of introverts’ needs is by explaining your own needs to others. Through creating awareness, you’re looking out for other introverts, not just yourself. Maybe your teacher friend won’t expect every kid to speak up in class next time. Maybe your friend who’s throwing a party will make sure there’s a spot where people can talk in small groups. And maybe, the next time you’re in a conversation and are struggling to speak up, someone will recognize and make space for you.
The world has started to “get” introverts more in recent years, but there’s a long way to go. Look out for your fellow introverts — we could all use a confidence boost sometimes. We love being alone. But in an extrovert-centric world that glorifies being lively, engaged, and outgoing, some introvert solidarity is nice, too.
What about you, fellow introvert? Any additional tips on how we introverts can better support each other? Leave them in the comments below!