How to befriend an Introvert.
1 - Listen attentively We introverts prefer minimal interaction, but when we do, we demand undivided attention. Or at least a sign...
1 - Listen attentively
We introverts prefer minimal interaction, but when we do, we demand undivided attention. Or at least a sign of effort that you are giving us serious consideration. Like when you are listening to your favorite song or looking for the most minute change in your stock portfolio, we want you to listen to us with the same level of focus. Imagine you are sitting with me in a closed, empty room painted in white with nothing else beside me sitting in front of you. Most of the time, it’s not that extreme; but the point is, nothing should be of higher priority than the conversation you are having with us, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
I know it sounds quite difficult and makes introverts (or maybe just me) seem like a desperate attention whore. The distinction is that we don’t actively seek for that attention, unless you approach us first. Also, since we are not comfortable with giving loud and obvious expressions, you will miss some important messages if you don’t pay attention.
2 - Question what they just said
Introverts have depth in their stories, but they can’t just blurt out their personal beliefs when everyone is enjoying the small talk and judging on anyone who tends to dig deep. They need a legitimate reason to share their stories, and one effective way is to ask them questions about what they just said. Ask them to elaborate their ideas with Why or What-if questions. You might think that it makes people uncomfortable being ‘investigated’. Well, as long as you don’t invade us with your own ‘moral code’ on how we should do or think, we love being ‘investigated’.
3 - Display sincere expressions
Ayy, don’t try to act cool. We introverts are very perceptive and quick to detect your bullshits. Doing something for the sake of being cool would only ridicule yourself in front of us and make you less of someone we want to share our stories with. If you notice our sudden tendency to retreat from you (e.g. avoiding eye contact), it’s not that we are impressed or overwhelmed by your ‘maturity’ or something; we are intentionally avoiding interaction with you because we don’t like the way you portray yourself.
4 - Start a conversation by passing them a note
Our dilemma is that we introverts are oversensitive to stimuli. Some hard introverts like myself could even feel intimidated by human voice if you happen to possess a loud, deep & coercive tone. If the point is to start a conversation with us, it doesn’t matter if you use your voice or not, as long as we get the message. Although nobody has tried this on me, writing something like “Can we talk :)” on a small note and put it next to my drink is almost certainly going to have my attention.
5 - Greet them in a random fashion
Infrequently, randomly pass them a Can-we-talk note in a cafe, message them on facebook just to say ‘Hi’, call them out for a spontaneous meeting, etc. Make it friendly and personal and they will respond with kindness. Just don’t tag them on a public announcement post on facebook. They hate uncalled-for publicity.
6 - Ask them to do you small favors
Once they get a bit familiar with you, start asking them small favors, preferably something they are already good at or interested in. If she’s good at sewing, ask her if she could sew your birthday friend’s name on a handkerchief. If he likes classical music, ask him to go to a concert with you.
Don’t worry, they wouldn’t feel like you are taking advantage of them. They would find themselves valued by others, and they enjoy it.
7 - Refrain from nicknaming them
Even if it’s a ‘pleasant’ nickname like “Cutiepie” or “Piano Man”, unless you are really close to them. We feel a bit uncomfortable when someone address us as some kind of one-dimensional personality. Personally, I think branding someone with a title shows a lack of effort to understand him as a normal human being. So please don’t give us a second name when you’ve only known us for a while.
8 - Take them to somewhere quiet and visually stimulating
As mentioned, Introverts can be quite sensitive to stimuli, especially human in large amount. Take your introvert friend to somewhere quiet with enough private space and ample visual stimuli. Even in the worst case that you couldn’t entertain her with your sense of humor, she would at least appreciate your effort to make her feel at ease.
9 - Avoid direct confrontation with them
Introverts dread confrontation. Don’t do this shit to us, no matter how important your message is. Our immediate, natural response to confrontation is shutting down everything - emotion, logical thinking, language - and quickly retreat from the source of confrontation. If you start being aggressive with your voice and words, we would look at you as some kind of monster, threatening our very own existence. If there is something you need to get through to us, you could at least lower your voice down and be as honest and objective as possible.
10 - 5% Interaction, 95% Personal space
Being friend with an introvert means respecting their private time. They are not the type of friend that responds to every hangout invitation or is always willing to see your face. Unless you are more than just their friend, giving them silence can be as good as giving them attention.
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