Sunday, July 29, 2012
How to Care for Introverts
A friend asked me the other day about how to make friends with introverts. I passed along to her this list of "Do's and Don't's" when it comes to introverts, but I thought I'd take some time today to explain them a little.
Here's what you need to know in a nutshell: interacting with people is exhausting to us. (People who know me on Facebook might be surprised to hear that. I'm yapping there all the time. But note that it's not face-to-face interaction. It's "safe distance" interaction. And when I write something, I have the time to think it through, trying to be as articulate as I can about what I mean.) That rarely happens in face-to-face conversations with me; I um and ah and stumble over words and struggle to be clear. This is not so much a problem in the classroom because I teach more as a coach and less as a lecturer handing down the Word. We interact with each other and ask each other questions. But teaching, much as I love it, is still exhausting to me.
Extroverts are the opposite. They enjoy social interaction and find it invigorating. They look for rest and relaxation in hanging out with other people.
Introverts don't seek rest and relaxation with others. Nope. We rest, relax, recenter, regroup, by going INSIDE. The last thing we want is a party.
If you want to freak out an introvert, give them no notice about a "surprise" that will involve people. We can deal--we can be resilient and adaptable and can think quickly on our feet if necessary--but we simply prefer to not have to do that if it's avoidable. We'd rather have time to adjust and think it through and be ready.
Introverts can be the deepest and most loyal of friends. But whatever you do, don't criticize us in public--especially those of us who also happen to be empaths. It feels like being hit with a big blazing ball of fury, and it will shut us right down. We are also easily embarrassed, so if you are teaching us something new that we may not be quite comfortable with yet, do it with us in private. I know our blushing can be awfully endearing, but nobody likes the sensation of being laughed at. Yeah. We do take things a little too personally.
It's because we are very inner-directed. This doesn't make us narcissists; in fact, most of us are pretty humble and get embarrassed even by compliments. Don't interpret our shyness as lack of confidence or a dislike of people. Just think of us as mostly private, sensitive, thoughtful, loving souls. If you are an introvert's best friend, then you have a good friend indeed.