Social gatherings. I love them. I really do. As an introvert, however, they can be very difficult. Introverts are typically far more likely to be placed in awkward, uncomfortable situations when the crowds are large.
People have a hard time believing I am introverted. Certainly I’m not on Sunday. I intentionally try to meet as many people as possible. And, I have plenty experience in extroverted environments. I’ve even served in public office. I can work a room if I need to do so.
Introversion is a personality based on preferences. It’s how someone is wired by life. We don’t simply choose to be introverted. We are programmed that way in our core personality.
So, knowing this time of year can be uncomfortable at times, I thought recently about how I respond in social settings where I’m not the host or where I don’t know most everyone in the room.
This may not be true for all introverts, but it is for me. I had this discussion with a fellow introvert. He said he just avoids all parties this time of year. I don’t want to do that, but knowing my reaction will hopefully keep me from hiding out in my personality and missing fun I really do often want to have.
Here is my typical response:
Find the corner – I look for a place away from the crowds to adjust to that space. I do this before even looking around to see who is in the room. I’ve been told, “I waved at you when you entered the room”, but I didn’t see you. I promise. I wasn’t even looking yet.
Survey the room – After a pause, this is when I finally begin to process who is in the room. Who do I know? Where’s the “safe” place to begin conversation? It’s usually with people I somewhat know and can easily begin conversation.
Spot the extroverts – It’s not that I don’t want to talk to them. Possibly they are some of the ones I most want to talk to, but I need time to “warm up” first. Many times these people launch into heavy conversation as soon as an introvert hits the door. The thought that this might happen is many times one of our biggest fears…and a main reason we avoid the social gathering altogether.
Look for an opportunity – When can I best break into a conversation? Many times if I can get started I’m good. Getting started is the hardest part. I won’t interrupt. Introverts typically don’t do that. We are gentleman (and gentlewomen) communicators.
Decide whether or not to move forward – At this point, I will either make the best of it…and many times have a great time if I do…or flame out early…or never ignite at all. It’s sad, but true. I’ve gone through this routine countless times only to spend a few minutes at a gathering before exiting as quickly as possible.
So, introverts, let’s not miss the parties we want to attend. If you want to stay home…great. But, I am committing not to allow my introversion to stop me. I’ll do this by disciplining myself to attend, adjust, and engage.
Help me out introverts, because whenever I post about this extroverts accuse me of all kinds of things. (That’s why I wrote THIS POST). If you’re an extrovert and want to know how to better engage with introverts, read THIS POST.
Introverts, any other ways you respond in these type settings?
Are any of these true for you?