For those who know me in the “real world”, you know that I am a total chatty Kathy. I love talking to people, especially on topics I’m interested in. Strike up a conversation on something I love, I light up like the stars in a night’s sky and will gesture with enthusiasm. While this is very true and I love being in the presence of others, I need time to recharge my social batteries. Yup, I’m an introvert. I tried to deny this for some time because stereotypically, we associate introversion with some atypical shy person who cannot carry on a conversation to save their lives. That may be true in some cases, but I assure you it does not fit everyone. Chances are, your introverted friends are the ones who are great listeners and dispense some pretty solid advice. You go to them for emotional support. Since introverts operate in an internal manner, these functions can be pretty draining.
I have all types of friends who all have different personalities (it makes for great stories). Interestingly enough, I have a tendency to be drawn towards people who are extroverted. I’ve been fortunate enough to have become close with people who pretty much get my M.O. so it’s been great. Sometimes there is a disconnect between friends when one wants to communicate more frequently than the other. Problem is, if you don’t give me time to gear up for the next adventure, I get a little overwhelmed and become unresponsive. It’s not because I’m trying to be rude, it’s simply the fact that I need time to chill. So in light of recent events, I’m listing a few points on how to keep a meaningful introvert/extrovert friendship going.
1. Be Welcoming
The myth is that introverts will not talk to strangers. That is absolutely untrue. Just today I was at the grocery store buying syrup and a lady mentioned how it doubled in price since last week. Since she was pleasant and friendly, I had no problem chatting with her about different grocery items that have surged in price recently. Conversation can be intimidating for introverts, but if you start off with a congenial attitude, you’d be surprised by the outcome.
2. Be Patient
I like to have time to think about things. Very seldom (if ever) do I go through with a plan that has not been thought out. So if you’re introverted friend seems a bit hesitant about anything, give them a chance to process and they’ll eventually come around. Unless it has anything to do with snakes, then I’m out. No exceptions.
3. Give Them Space
I love hanging out with my friends, I really do. At times if I’m out and about for extended periods of time, I have to have some off time. Usually I’ll unwind by reading a book, crocheting, or going on walks with Abbey. So it’s fair to say that I’ll check out for a little while. It’s mostly a day’s time and then I’m back in the social saddle ready to ride off again. Point is, quiet time is important for introverts to get back out into the social scene.
4. Don’t Push
Here’s where some challenges can occur. If I don’t get the space that I need, I go AWOL socially. Which means I don’t answer texts, calls, or anything in between. I get that this can be seen as rude to some, but I assure you it’s not meant maliciously. The reality is that when you invade an introvert’s space, it can be seen as overwhelming. Of course that’s not the intent but it’s how the receiver can feel. Case in point, if I get a bunch of texts while I’m trying to unwind, it’s overwhelming. I cannot maintain that style of constant communication, even if it’s on something I’m interested in. It’s like a tidal wave of communication coming at me all at once and all I want to do is throw my phone into the trash. At that point, I won’t respond and will need a cooling off period before I can engage. Later on, when I’m feeling up to it, I’ll get around to responding. If you have a friend who gets a bit standoffish, chances are, they’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. Let them take a beat and they’ll get back to you. If you keep pushing, all they’ll do is prolong responding.
5. Don’t Take it Personally
I love my zany outgoing friends. They push me to get out of my comfort zone to do things I wouldn’t do on my own. With that being said, I still need my down time. If your introverted friends don’t want to hang out, most of the time it has nothing to do with you. It just means that they are mentally relaxing and getting prepped for the next awesome hang out session. Once you understand the method to their madness and give them the opportunity to reach their social equilibrium, they’ll be back out in no time, ready for the next adventure.
So those are some quick tips for extroverts on how to get along with their introvert pals. I do have some advice for my introvert cohorts as well.
1. Be Receptive
A general misnomer is that introverts are shy. That’s not always the case. If a person is offering you a “social olive branch” try your best and meet them halfway. A little growth never killed anyone
2. Ask For Time
If you take some time to make decisions, tell your friends what’s up. Don’t feel pressured to just blurt anything out. Chances are that our extrovert counterparts don’t operate in this type of mindset and that’s ok, but make your intentions clear.
3. Ask For Space
I straight up tell my friends when I’m going “off the grid”. Telling people that you need space is not rude, especially if it’s crucial to your wellbeing. We’re all different and may not see eye to eye on things, so communication is key. Just send an “I’m currently checking out” message to your friends and get back to them when you feel up to it.
4. Set Boundaries
If you have a well meaning friend who doesn’t seem to get the message, after you’re done with your hiatus, have a heart to heart with that person. Explain why you need your space and make sure that you get it. If they care for you at all, they’ll respect that. If they don’t, well that’s on them and they clearly are not respecting your need for space.
5. Let Them Know You Appreciate Your Friendship
It’s tough to hear that your friend wants some down time, so it’s important that you let them know how much you enjoy their friendship. I try as much as possible to let my friends know how much they mean to me. It helps them understand that it’s “not their fault” when you need space.
Honestly, if I try to be social when I haven’t had time to recuperate, I’m kind of an ass. It’s like a 5 year old who hasn’t had their afternoon nap; they become cranky and emotional. Once they wake up from that nap, they’re back to being the sweet kid they once were; it’s the same for introverts. So that’s my take on how to maintain a legit friendship between an introvert and extrovert. Introverts on the webs, do you agree? Also, all the extroverts out there what do you require for a friendship to be successful? I want to hear your opinions. 🙂