Introverts can be a complicated lot. We want to help others, but we get drained so quickly that we may have to retreat before making a dent. We want to remain anonymous — even when we do well — but we may feel as if nobody notices us. We may feel unappreciated and used by the people in our lives, but we also insist we don’t want praise or glory.
For anyone who has an introvert in their life, pleasing him or her can be a challenge, mostly because introverts aren’t the greatest at clearly explaining what they want. We tend to remain reserved, especially if we’re upset, hoping that someone will just “get it.”
For the people trying to navigate the introverts in their lives, here are five comforting phrases that will make your introvert glow. These are the things we wish someone would say to us:
1. “The world would be so much better if everyone cared as much as you do.”
Introverts tend to endure a lot of blanket judging, but none of those judgements hurt as much as being declared “uncaring.” This usually stems from the fact that introverts are quiet, keep to themselves, and avoid most (if not all) frivolous social interaction. Therefore, people assume they must be self-absorbed and completely uninterested in anything beyond themselves. This assumption hurts a lot, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. Introverts tend to care about people and issues deeply, and we often become mentally and emotionally entangled in every aspect of our lives. Letting an introvert know that you see how much they care can move mountains for them. Just remember to do it in a comfortable, private setting—please, no toasting to us in front of the group!
2. “I’d like your opinion on this. Take whatever time you need to answer.”
Introverts love giving their opinion on things and sharing their insight, but don’t expect them to pop out an answer immediately. They often need time to ponder. They like to think about all aspects of a problem before they settle on a conclusion, but this fast-paced world often dictates that they move faster. This can make them uncomfortable, stressed, and overwhelmed. Taking time to process and think is part of an introvert’s nature, and it cannot be overcome or changed. Letting them know you’re okay with them needing time to think will be a huge relief to them.
3. “I’ll be busy tomorrow, so you’ll be on your own. Try not to have too much fun without me.”
This phrase is a little more playful, but it’s still just as refreshing to an introvert. Many people wrongly assume that introverts only spend time alone because we are bored, anxious, depressed, etc. They have a hard time understanding that we actually like being alone. If you can leave an introvert alone for a bit — and you understand that they’re completely okay with that — then you will be invaluable. They don’t need you to imply that there is something wrong with being by themselves or that you’re doing them a disservice by leaving them alone — you’re not. When you respect their need for alone time, you show them just how much you respect them.
4. “I’m glad you agreed to go with me tonight, but let me know when you’ve had enough.”
Sure, there will be times when you and your introvert go out with the group together. You don’t have to sit there and think they’re hating every minute, because they’re not. Introverts enjoy fun, laughter, and friendship just like anyone else. The catch is they have a limit, and once they hit it, things can become exhausting and stressful for them. When you notice your introvert tapping out, don’t tell them to “lighten up” or “just have fun.” Introverts have no control over how their system works, and learning to understand and respect their limits will put them at ease — and ultimately make them more agreeable to going out in the future. Most introverts decline social invitations simply because they’re afraid they are going to get stuck there, or they’ll be forced beyond their limits. Knowing that they have you to bail them out when necessary will put those worries to rest.
5. “Would you like to go to the museum/theatre/reading/lecture today?”
There are always lots of fun things to do, but introverts take a particular kind of joy from mental stimulation. In fact, their well-being depends on it. How your introvert gets this stimulation can vary — introverts are individuals and have differing interests. When you spend time with an introvert, it’s pretty easy to see what they like to do, because they’ll be doing a lot of it. Every so often, if you offer that internal stimulation that they crave so deeply, it will solidify your stance as a trustworthy and caring person.
Basically, introverts just want to be understood and respected for who they are. That’s all. They don’t want to take anything from anyone else or rain on anyone’s parade. The things they ask for are usually incredibly simple and easy to provide — like extra time to process things, quiet, and occasional downtime alone — but our society has become so increasingly fast-paced and loud that introverts feel like they are losing a little more each day.
When you give to an introvert, they will give back to you tenfold. It can be difficult to gain the full trust and acceptance of an introvert, since they have to be careful about protecting their energy, but once they do let you in, you’ve got an ally for life. Practice supporting and respecting them, because it will be totally worth it for you.
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Read this: 21 Undeniable Signs That You’re an Introvert
Learn more: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain
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