By using these tips, I can make my social battery last longer and return home with more energy for myself.
I have avoided social situations for as long as I can remember — be it birthdays, family functions, religious gatherings — you name it, I’ve dodged it. For a long time, I did not know I was an introvert, but I did know that socializing drained my energy. I would feel myself getting cranky when I had too much social stimulation (which happens easily for us introverts), so it became easier to just avoid socializing altogether.
This “game” of avoiding social situations continued all the way through college… until I landed a job that required me to be social, even outside the office (yes, the horrors were real!). Since a job change was not an option for me at the time, I had to learn to adapt.
What I’m sharing here are things I learned over the years — by reading, watching, and experimenting. Not all of these may work equally well for you, and that’s okay. Even if only one thing on this list works for you, stick to it. You will drastically reduce the energy you have to spend on social activities that you find emotionally and physically tiring — which means more time for you to do other things you enjoy.
7 Ways for Introverts to Conserve Energy While Socializing
1. Have one-on-one conversations instead of group ones.
For introverts, talking to people one-on-one is much better than engaging with loud groups where everyone is trying to out-shout each other. Plus, the quality of the conversation is better this way, too. You get to really know someone by having a deep conversation with them and you could end up forming a meaningful bond. And the best part is, no one will say you were “standing around by yourself” (again).
As for the conversation itself, people love to talk about themselves if you ask them the right questions, so ask open-ended ones about their lives. Not only will you get interesting answers, but you also won’t have to talk much yourself.
2. Prepare anecdotes and canned responses beforehand.
Come to think of it, most conversations at parties are the same — the kind of questions people ask, the kind of stories they want you to tell, and so on. Instead of going deep inside your mind to come up with thoughtful responses each time, have some canned responses prepared. You can dish them out without too much effort the next time someone asks, “What’s your story?”
Questions like “What was it like growing up in X city?” will end up consuming a lot of effort if you let them. Having a response that you can recite mechanically (yet naturally) will save you tons of energy. Pro tip: Some anecdotes that you can prepare include a funny story, an embarrassing story, a childhood story, a family-friendly story, and a travel story. The questions, of course, will change based on whether you’re with family or colleagues or some other group, but the idea remains the same. The more you use these conversation tricks, the better.
3. Take “alone time” breaks as often as you need to.
Despite your best preparation, you will find yourself drained of energy at times. Refueling yourself is the best thing to do here. If you feel like it, be completely unapologetic about wanting to recharge in the middle of a party or gathering.
Go for a short walk around the room (or outside), find furry friends to play with, or just spend some time in the bathroom by yourself. Taking short breaks is much better than forcing yourself to be social, especially if you are feeling drained.
4. Offer to help the host with something… anything.
Get-togethers don’t just have to be about talking. If it’s at someone’s house, even better. You can help pour drinks or prepare appetizers. The good part about helping out is that you’re likely to have a meaningful conversation with a like-minded individual who’s also helping out.
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5. Deal with small talk like a pro.
Probably my least favorite thing about socializing is small talk, and I’m sure my fellow introverts agree. I used to find it really hard to tell if someone was asking a genuine question or if it was good ol’ small talk.
When in doubt, answer briefly instead of teasing out a thoughtful answer from your mind. That’ll satisfy most people and they’ll be on their way to find their next small talk “victim.” If the person is genuinely interested, they’ll ask more questions. You could then have a proper conversation. (This is where the anecdotes that you’ve prepared could come in handy.)
6. Remember to eat so you don’t get “hangry” (hungry + angry).
Functions can be harrowing, and if you’re anxious, it’s easy to forget to listen to your body and be completely focused on your mind. But not eating will only drain your mental energy faster. If you’re anything like me, it’ll even make you cranky, something known as “hangry” (hungry + angry), and possibly more anxious.
Eating may not be your number one priority, so make a conscious note to get yourself some food or have a snack beforehand; you could also set a reminder on your phone. It will not only put you in a better mood, but also give you more energy for all those small talk conversations.
7. Make a few like-minded friends.
One of the most difficult things to explain to extroverts is how you can spend time alone and still be happy. It can get really annoying to explain that, no, you’re not in a bad mood, and yes, you are fine by yourself.
A good way to deal with this is to find other introverts at your office and in your family. Most likely, they’re going through the same challenges you are. By being together, you can all avoid the prying questions and spend time with people who “get” you and are at your energy level. That way, when you say you need alone time, they understand — no explanations necessary.
Remember, Conserving Your Social Battery Is the Goal
Social situations, tiring as they are, often become an unavoidable necessity in this day and age. We all find our ways of dealing with them and not every method works every time. What I’ve shared with you is what works for me. By using these tips, I can make my social battery last longer and return home with more energy for myself. This also helps me form better connections with the extroverts at these parties without turning into an absolute zombie by the end of it. Plus, I get to avoid the dreaded “introvert hangover.”
That said, there are situations when you simply can’t go on. When I find myself feeling this way, I’ve realized it’s best to excuse myself and leave. Aside from these situations, there will also be parties and functions that you don’t want to attend at all. Instead of putting yourself through so much stress, politely refuse to join. As an introvert, I know it’s not always easy to say “no,” but conserving your mental energy is important. At the end of the day, it’s about owning who you are and feeling comfortable in your skin. These tips and tricks are just another way to make it easier.
My fellow introvert friends, what do you do to reduce the energy you spend socializing? I’d love to hear in the comments below!