We introverts are rarely the loudest voice in the room, and sometimes we’d rather stand over here by ourselves, thank you very much. As a result, we often get overlooked in social situations, groups, and sometimes even in our close relationships. Plus, we may have trouble speaking up for what we need — and sometimes we feel so disconnected from our own feelings and bodies that we don’t even know what we need in the moment. So, here are 19 sweet, kind things that introverts wish someone would do for them. I can’t speak for every introvert, but I bet most introverts would agree that gestures like these would be really nice:
1. Just be in your introvert’s presence. No talking, just being. Do something in the same room together. One of you is on the computer, the other is reading a book. If you’re doing this with your significant other, you get bonus points for touching feet or snuggling up in some way — of course, while the two of you continue to do your own thing.
2. When your introvert appears sad or upset, instead of badgering them with questions or putting them on the spot, simply put a hand on their shoulder or hug them. Then say, “We can talk about it if you want to — whenever you’re ready.”
3. When your introvert says they’re leaving the party or event early, simply accept this, and don’t badger them about “missing the fun” or “leaving too early.”
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4. If you notice that your introvert is trying to speak up in a group but everyone else is ignoring them or talking over them, say something like, “Wait, so-and-so is making a good point.” Then listen until they’re completely finished.
5. Don’t put your introvert on the spot without checking with them first. This means don’t randomly call them up to sing karaoke in front of everyone at the office party or get the servers to sing “Happy Birthday” to them in a crowded restaurant. Some introverts can handle that kind of attention — and may even enjoy it if they know it’s coming — but others really hate it.
6. When your introvert seems tongue-tied or is acting like a deer in the headlights, don’t keep pressing them for an answer. Instead, say something like, “It’s okay! Take your time.”
7. Expect your introvert to not attend every single party, get-together, happy hour, or event — and really, truly be okay with that. No passive-aggressive guilt trips.
8. Don’t assume things about your introvert because they’re an introvert, such as they can’t lead a group at work, they don’t ever want to be invited to things, or they are shy and lack confidence. It’s always better to ask than assume.
9. Let your introvert talk about their one or two niche areas of interest. Introverts often have a few interests that are quirky and off the beaten path, and we don’t get to talk about them often. We really light up when someone gives us the stage in this way.
10. If your introvert is having trouble making a decision about something that seems really simple to you, don’t pressure them or make them feel judged for taking so long.
11. Listen — truly listen — to all the thoughts that have built up in your introvert’s head throughout the day. We often give others space to vent or ramble, but we usually don’t feel comfortable doing this ourselves. Letting us talk freely without judgment really means a lot.
12. Saying, “You look really exhausted. Do you need some time to yourself?”
13. For holidays or birthdays, give your introvert a thoughtful gift that shows that you truly know them. A lot of introverts aren’t into the next trendy gadget, designer labels, or consumerism in general. Giving a meaningful gift — like a souvenir from a recent memorable place or a thoughtful letter — will probably mean more to your introvert than something flashy and expensive.
14. Check in with your introvert at a party or event. Ask, “How are you feeling — is this too much? How long do you think you’ll want to stay?”
15. Give your introvert advanced notice before asking them to hang out. Don’t text and expect them to be ready to go in 10 minutes. We tend to need time to mentally prepare to socialize. It shows us respect when you plan at least a day or so in advance.
16. Respect your introvert’s boundary when they say they don’t want to talk about something right now. Introverts often need time to process things, and we like to think before we speak. This is especially important for “big” conversations that might involve conflict.
17. Remember that introverts are humans who need people, too, and that we like feeling accepted, appreciated, and connected to others.
18. Spend one-on-one time with your introvert. No last-minute additional guests, and no frequent texting/social media interruptions. Just quality, meaningful conversation.
19. Even if you’re surrounded by other people, make your introvert feel like they’re the most important person in the room to you.
Introverts, what would you add to this list?
Check out my book, The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World, which will be out August 2017.
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