It’s a common misconception that introverts never leave the house, hate extroverts, and avoid socializing like the plague. Those who get to know us are aware that we do have friends, go on dates, and occasionally even enjoy a night out on the town.
That said, it may be tricky to persuade your introverted friends to leave the comfort of their couch any time after sunset. However, if you plan in just the right way, you might find that your introvert is actually eager to see you — and is looking forward to your night out together. Here are 10 tips to do just that.
1. Don’t wait until the last minute. While spontaneity isn’t exclusively an extrovert trait, you’ll probably find that your introverted friend is far more inclined to join you in painting the town red if you plan at least a couple of days in advance. Because our mental processes are more internally focused, introverts actively crave both time to recharge after a social event and time to mentally prepare beforehand. If you give us time to reorganize our schedule and allow us to adjust to the idea of spending a certain amount of social energy with you, you’ll probably find that we are much more on top of our socializing game. You may even find us acting almost — gasp! — extroverted.
2. Don’t push too hard. If an introvert says no to your suggested night out, it’s not a reflection on you. Even if we don’t have another conflicting event on our calendar, we consider our night at home reading a book or catching up on a Netflix series to be actual plans. Maybe we had a busy week and need to recharge. Don’t be afraid to ask again, perhaps a little further in advance next time. We might surprise you with a yes.
3. Don’t call. If there’s one universal introvert truth, it’s that phone calls are evil, and they are to be avoided at all costs. They interrupt your train of thought, often at the expense of never getting it back. They take an inconclusive amount of time. You can’t read body language like you would when talking in person, and you can’t re-read your sentence and think about what you are going to say like you would when texting. If your introvert isn’t an assertive speaker in real life, they’ll probably be even quieter on the phone. Just don’t do it to us.
4. Don’t lead with small talk. When you do contact us (preferably via text), don’t open with a lot of unnecessary chitchat. It might seem like the polite thing to do, but introverts aren’t fans of small talk. Save the inquiries into our personal lives for when you see us in person and can have a meaningful conversation.
Never lead with a pointless text like, “Hey! What’s up?” or “What are you up to?” As an introvert, I would never text someone just because I’m bored and want to chat. I assume the same when someone texts me, and often find myself wondering what they really want. If you ask your introverted friend a straightforward question, you’ll probably get a faster response.
5. Don’t expect an immediate response. Introverts value quality in communication over quantity. If someone texts me when I’m in the middle of something — whether that something is cooking myself dinner or brainstorming a project at work — I will wait until I have time to give that person a thoughtful response. Contrary to our seemingly taciturn natures, introverts don’t like one-word answers, and we probably won’t give you one either, as long as we are given ample time to sort out our thoughts before responding.
6. Seriously, don’t call us. Just because we didn’t respond within five minutes (or even 50) doesn’t mean you have to find an alternative mode of communication to contact us. If you need an answer within a certain timeframe, communicate that in your original message. Otherwise, be patient. Your introvert is likely thinking through their answer and an unexpected phone call may hinder rather than help them accept your invitation. Don’t wear us out before we even see you.
7. Have a plan in place. If you’re contacting your introvert to invite them somewhere or to do something, make sure it’s a concrete plan with an actual time/place involved. It’s much easier to formulate a response to, “Would you like to get dinner at 7 p.m. on Friday?” than it is to, “Would you like to do something this weekend?”
If you would like to see them, but aren’t sure what they would be comfortable doing, ask them. Try: “I would really like to see you. Would you like to have dinner on Friday? You can pick the place. Or, we could have a quiet cup of coffee instead.” Acknowledge your understanding of your introvert’s feelings. Realize they might prefer a quiet activity to visiting a noisy or crowded public space. If your introvert wants to see you, they will most likely have in mind under what context they are most comfortable.
8. Ask questions, and don’t interrupt. As the evening approaches, keep in mind that conversation is meant to be a two-way street. It can be easy for extroverts to dominate the conversation without even realizing they are doing it. Or, they might think they are being helpful by filling the silence of an introvert who doesn’t seem to have much to say. Just because we’re not talking doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty going on in our heads. Introverts almost always have something to say, if you ask them the right questions. Be inquisitive. Be thoughtful. Be genuine in your inquiries into their personal life. You might realize that your introvert isn’t nearly as quiet as you thought.
9. Don’t be afraid to let the night end. If the evening is coming to a natural conclusion, don’t be afraid to part ways after the check comes. Introverts are much more interested in catching up with you than they are in hopping from bar to bar or tacking another unexpected activity onto the evening. After an hour or two, your introvert may be ready to head home and recharge.
It doesn’t hurt to ask if you have a follow-up activity in mind, but usually it’s best to propose all activities as part of the original invite so your introvert is mentally prepared and not already envisioning a warm bubble bath and sweat pants. Or, perhaps mention you were thinking about getting a drink/coffee/dessert after and let them have the length of your original activity to think about part two.
10. Feel free to follow up. Don’t be afraid to follow up the next day and let your introvert know it was nice to see them and catch up. Sometimes introverts — especially those who suffer from social anxiety — need extra reassurance that you enjoyed their quiet company. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy communication, in fact, shorter is better. Being brief and heartfelt might just be the best way to ensure your introvert looks forward to seeing you again.
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Learn more: The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World, by Jenn Granneman
Image credit: @Jennyrsmith via Twenty20