Being sensitive to an introvert’s feelings — like sensing when they’ve had enough socializing — is just one way to make them feel valued.
If you know any introverts — or are one yourself — you probably know certain things about them: They’re great listeners, they think things through instead of saying the first thing that comes to mind, and they cherish their alone time. But what are some ways you can show them that you care and truly “get” them?
In case you’re not sure, I’ve thought up several ways you can make an introvert feel valued. Trust me, they’ll appreciate that you see them — really see them — in a world which often doesn’t.
9 Ways to Make an Introvert Feel Valued
1. Give them enough time to talk.
I know — if you don’t know many introverts, you may not think we talk, but we do… when we’re passionate about something (and if it’s not in front of a ton of people). So when we do open our mouths, please don’t rush us. We excel at listening and would love the same courtesy in return.
Many introverts are known to think things over carefully before speaking, so if we pause for a moment, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re finished. The pause may just mean that we’re still processing our thoughts. And if someone interrupts us, it can really throw us off track. So before jumping back into the conversation, please wait a few moments to make sure we’ve made our point.
2. Show them that you are paying attention to what they are saying.
After listening to your introverted friend talk, it would be wonderful to show them that you actively listened. Paraphrase some of the things they said. This shows that you were truly invested in what they were saying instead of simply nodding and smiling (as so many people seem to do, not just toward introverts, but in our fast-paced society overall). One of the best ways to show you care is by showing us that we have your undivided attention — and that you actually absorbed what we said.
3. Enjoy the silence with them when they need it.
For introverts, quiet time is how we recharge and be more productive as a result. So this means that we enjoy periods of silence. There is nothing awkward about this type of quiet — at least not to us. If you’re an extrovert hanging out with us, and we’d like some alone or quiet time, just know it’s not you, it’s us. And you’re welcome to join us while we sit in silence.
4. Warn them if you want them to “think out loud.”
Introverts like to process their thoughts before voicing them. So if you want them to “think out loud” and suddenly talk, you might throw them off. It’s common for us to struggle to speak, so the more advance warning we have, the better prepared we can be. Otherwise, we may stumble over our words and look ill-prepared (even though it all makes sense in our heads, we swear!).
5. Reach out to them through their most comfortable means of communication. (Hint: It’s not the phone.)
As opposed to speaking on the phone — which I think 99.9 percent of introverts loathe! — most of us “quiet ones” are more comfortable with texting. Texting provides us with a way to be in charge of when — and how — we reply. We can think about exactly what we want to say and think of the best way to say it. But the introvert(s) in your life may prefer email instead. Whatever the case may be, try to contact them through that means. (They’ll appreciate it!)
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6. The less eye contact you give them, the better.
In my opinion, it’s best to make conversation with an introvert when you are walking or driving with us, as this allows us to make as little eye contact as possible. It’s not as though we have a problem with eye contact, but it can make us feel put on the spot. If we’re not looking directly at you, it might be easier for us to gather our thoughts and open up.
7. Be sensitive to their thoughts and feelings.
Show your introverted loved ones that you care about their thoughts and feelings. For instance, let’s say you invite them out one night — but it’ll be a dinner party with people they don’t know. They decline. Instead of giving them a hard time about skipping it, either just be cool with it or find out what they’d prefer to do instead — like catch up with you one-on-one at a coffee shop.
Similarly, if they do decide to go to the dinner and you see them struggling to be involved in the conversation, help them out. Introduce them to the people sitting near them or bring up topics you know they can talk about. And if you feel they’re getting drained and really want to go home, let them — no questions asked. They did their best by showing up and that’s all any of us can ever do.
8. Give them plenty of alone time (and don’t make them feel awkward about it).
Just like you’re aware that the introverts in your life like silence sometimes, it helps if you’re understanding about their need for alone time, too. Even if you’re an extrovert, you could probably use some time alone, as well (and you probably don’t even realize it). It helps recharge the soul — and when you and your introverted friend reunite, they’ll be all revved up to give you their undivided attention.
9. Show them that there’s nothing awkward about them at all.
With all the stereotypes out there about us introverts — how we prefer to be alone (all the time) or never speak — it’s no surprise we’re not always feeling confident or self-assured. But that’s where you come in: Just treat us like an ordinary person, no judgment. Instead of focusing on how we’d prefer to stay in on a Friday night (or nearly every night), look at all the strengths that we bring to the friendship table — our ability to think things through, plan events (whether it’s a to-do list or detailed vacation), and actively listen to you (to name a few). We’ll be the best friend you’ve ever had. You’ll see.
Introverts, what would you add to the list? Feel free to comment below!