Introverts, when you need to recharge at a social event, use the restroom for what it’s for — a “rest” room.
A work party, a networking event, or a celebration, we all somehow end up attending large events as introverts, whether we want to or not. (And, usually, not.)
Of course, if the choice is there, you can decline the invitation. But sometimes it’s mandatory we show up, whether it’s the company holiday party where everyone will be there and you need some face time with the boss, that networking event you should attend because you really need a new job, or your best friend’s birthday party.
But rest assured: Here’s what to do if you find yourself in a crowded event and feel your social battery getting dangerously close to zero.
8 Subtle Ways Introverts Can Recharge at Social Events
1. Plan beforehand, like conserve some energy for days leading up to the event.
Often, events are announced in advance, whether it happens through a newsletter or a personal invite. Instead of reacting with dread and anxiety, think of the heads-up as a blessing in disguise. Knowing when, where, and for how long an event is going to last allows you to effectively plan and prepare.
Plus, you can brainstorm (or research online!) for some conversation topics and prompts, and prepare model answers beforehand. This way, you don’t have to waste precious energy with small talk, as you’ll already be one step ahead.
You can also mentally prepare by conserving your social battery in the week or day(s) leading up to the event.
2. Rest on the outskirts, whether it’s in a corner of the room or going outside for a few minutes.
Regardless of the layout of the event venue, there are always spots with a lower concentration of people per square meter. This might be on the perimeter of the room or next to some furniture.
Either way, there’s nothing wrong with stepping outside (while not actually leaving the event) of the crowd and taking a breather. This is especially effective if you have a “prop,” such as a drink, goodie bag, or your phone. Plus, nature recharges introverts (in case there happen to be some trees, flowers, or a park nearby).
Taking a few minutes just to observe might not recharge your battery, but it keeps it from declining more than necessary. Think of this as pacing yourself — you might have an important conversation later on, and you’ll want to be as alert and engaged as possible for it. You might also meet a few fellow introverts this way!
3. Go to the restroom to “rest.”
If things get really overwhelming or unbearable, you can always use the classic excuse and head to the restroom — it’s called a “rest” room for a reason! You can stay there for as long as you need to take the time to rest and recharge. (Both Oprah and Amy Schumer — fellow introverts — have said they use the restroom as an escape, too!)
Out of politeness, no one will be likely to ask you what took you so long. You can even bring something that recharges your battery with you (such as a book or coloring pages). Just make sure you’re mindful of others if there’s only one restroom available, as others might need to use it, too! (Who knows? It could be another introvert looking to take a “rest” room break!)
4. Go with an extroverted friend — they’ll (gladly) do most of the talking.
Who said you need to tackle big events alone? Going with a friend has many benefits.
Firstly, you’ll have someone to experience it with you (as getting lost is way less stressful with someone you know). You’ll also have someone to talk to (or at least hang out with, if neither of you has particularly high social batteries that day). Bonus points if your friend is an extrovert, as they can take care of all the conversations and socializing (which they enjoy), and you can tag along without much effort. Just make sure you both have an understanding of each other’s needs, as deciding on a time to leave, etc., might be difficult otherwise.
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5. Focus on a few key people to speak to.
While this tip is focused on networking and other work-related events, with the right planning, it works great at parties, as well. By figuring out beforehand who you’d like to talk to — and what you’d like to get out of the conversation — you’ll feel much more focused, and you’ll be able to divide your social battery better.
Try to (politely, of course) avoid as much small talk as you can, and aim to have deeper, more meaningful conversations. This way, you’ll feel fulfilled, and you’ll come home from the event inspired, or having learned something new. And who knows? Maybe you’ll actually be glad that you attended.
6. Treat it as acting (but not in a fake way).
While we don’t want to be putting up a façade when going to these events, developing an “alter ego,” of sorts, might help. Every time you attend an event, imagine you’re playing a character. This character has higher energy, is more self-assured, and can withstand social situations.
This might help when struggling with an empty social battery, as you can detach yourself from it and embody someone else. This also adds a bit more fun to an event.
However, you want to stay true to yourself, of course, and just use this “persona” as an extra addition or highlight of your best features, not as a replacement.
7. Join in with a group (and leave most of the talking to them).
If you absolutely cannot have one more conversation without feeling drained and socially exhausted, try to join in with a group. In social settings (where we are free to move around), we tend to form circles, or semi-circles, of conversation (often subconsciously). These “social circles” are very fluid, and if you’re subtle enough, no one will notice you’ve joined in.
Once you’re “in,” you can let the rest of the people do the talking, and just throw in a nod or smile at appropriate places. If the conversation does turn to you, answer shortly and then redirect the conversation back to the group.
8. Leave (early) — and know where the nearest exit is.
Don’t worry about leaving events early. Provided you’ve stayed for a polite amount of time, and you’ve thanked the people involved, you aren’t usually obliged to stay till the very end.
One option is to slide out of sight subtly and quietly. If you aren’t comfortable with this, a good plan might help. If you know an event starts in the afternoon and is likely to run till the evening (or night!), be proactive and schedule something in the evening. This will give you a reason to leave, and everyone will be understanding. This works best if it’s something that will garner sympathy, like watching a friend’s cat.
Then again, no excuse is really necessary — the point is, you showed up (which is a huge deal to us introverts). Just know where the nearest exit is and go on home…