If you want to be friends with an introvert, it’s important to step into their shoes by learning more about introversion. With enough knowledge, you’ll increase your chances of befriending them. In this article, you’ll come to know what it means to be introverted, the telltale signs someone is an introvert, and lastly: how to approach and be friends with them.
In 1921, Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, in his Psychology Types, defined two personality types, namely: Introversion and Extroversion. He states that each differs in their outlook on life and response to varying circumstances. An extrovert directs their energy/interest outwards, to the outside world. An introvert directs their energy/interest inwards—to their thoughts and feelings.
Introvert and Extrovert: The Differences
|Energized after spending time alone||Energized after socializing|
|More on listening and giving support||More on initiating and engaging|
|Prefer low-stimulus environments||Prefer high-stimulus environments|
|Likes to internalize their thoughts||Likes to verbalize their thoughts|
|Enjoys being notified beforehand||Enjoys surprises|
|Have a handful of close friends||Have a large group of friends|
Myths about Introverts
The unfortunate thing about introverts is that most people tend to have the wrong perception of them. Introverts are often labeled by other individuals like this and such without knowing the truth. If you want to be friends with an introvert, you will need to know the following myths so you can approach them accordingly.
All introverts are shy
No, a lot of introverts aren’t shy. At times, introverts avoid socializing because it exhausts them. They’re most likely reserving their energy for something else. On the other hand. shy people avoid social situations because they’re afraid of rejection.
Just to be safe, you’d be well not to mention or urge them to “not be shy” as that may not be the case for them.
Introverts lack social skills
Often based on the assumption that only extroverts have good social skills. Introverts can be as confident and interesting to have conversations with, it’s only that they need a break to regain their energy.
In reality, a lot of introverts are actually pretty decent, and even welcome socializing. It’s just that their social batteries are lower compared to most people’s.
Introverts are rude
Not being in the mood for a conversation, leaving the event early, and declining certain invitations can be seen as rude by many people. Introverts don’t mean to be rude, not at all. They value solitude and their energy more than most. If you’re keen on befriending an introvert, we will go in length later on how you can approach an introvert’s behavior most people will perceive as “rude.” For now, just know that this is not the case for them.
Introverts can become extroverts
Don’t fix what’s not broken. There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert. Everyone is different in their own way, but people tend to forget this and make introverts feel uncomfortable in their skin. If you’re an extrovert and you have a colleague who’s an introvert, you don’t need to convert them if you want to be friends with them. On the other hand, you also don’t need to become an introvert so they can get along with you.
Becoming Friends With An Introvert
Now that we’ve covered the myths about introverts, we can now talk about the things you can do to befriend them. Take these tips to heart and you should be able to be friends with an introvert in due time.
If you’re interested in befriending an introvert only to expanding your social circle, think again. Introverts tend to be around people who deeply value friendships. Rarely do they enjoy making or maintaining superficial relationships. The reason behind this is that socializing drains their energy, and they need to spend time alone in peace to recharge. It goes to show that they’d rather spend their time and energy on people who are actually interested in them.
So when you’re planning on approaching them, observe and think about what you find interesting in them and gently let them know. Only seek to befriend an introvert if you genuinely find something interesting about them and you want to get to know them a little more.
Ask instead of assuming
When trying to be friends with an introvert, it is important that you avoid any forms of assumptions and treating them as facts. For example, if you’re talking to an introvert about your social circle and they show a hint of excitement, you may perceive that as them wanting to meet or be a part of your social group, when in actuality, they may just be being attentive in the conversation.
To be safe, always ask before you make an assumption or a decision involving them. They’ll appreciate you for the thought and the initiative to ask.
Give them space
For an introvert, their personal space is something very valuable to them. It is where they can recharge themselves, feel comfortable, energized, and peaceful. Having said that, if you want to be friends with an introvert, you will have to give them space and allow them their personal time every once in a while.
This also means you shouldn’t rush an introvert into things they are not comfortable with. Take things slow and don’t be offended if they ever say no to a proposition. If they prefer to stay home during a particular night, let them know it’s okay and that you’re looking forward to your next interaction. Introverts appreciate and respect individuals who are patient and understanding. Be that kind of individual by allowing them to relax in their personal space.
Don’t force them to join your group immediately
This tip applies to you if you belong in a social circle and you want your introverted colleague to be a part of that group. If this does apply to you, the most important thing you need to keep in mind is to never force them to be a part of the group if they’re not comfortable yet. Take things slow. One very good way of doing this is by introducing them to one or two friends first before bringing them in with the entire group immediately.
One thing you should also consider is to question whether or not your introverted colleague even needs to be a part of your group in the first place. Are they able to add value to your group? Is it beneficial for them? Are there people in your group you believe will get along with them well? If so, then proceed with ease. If not, it may be better for you to not force them to be a part of the group at all. That is, of course, unless they specifically ask you to introduce them.
Ask them to hang out in a quiet, comfortable place
A lot of introverts, if not all of them, prefer to hang out in relaxing places where they can have deep and meaningful conversations instead of going to crowded, rowdy, noisy places. With that in mind, one of the best and most considerate things you can do for an introvert when hanging out with them is to bring them to a quiet and comfortable place.
Find a coffee shop, pub, or restaurant that’s known for serenity rather than for being wild. Go to places that are soothing, where you and your friend can sit down in peace and can talk for hours on end. Do this once and they will appreciate you. They’ll look forward to your future interactions. They may even give you a list of peaceful places they’ve always enjoyed going to.
Know their interests
While this tip is very helpful in befriending an introvert, it is also a good piece of advice overall for those who are trying to befriend anyone. Knowing someone’s interests is a very good way of showing them that you’re interested in getting to know them more. Not only should you know what their interests are but you should also take an interest in them.
You can take an interest in something even though you don’t fully understand how it works or how it’s done. For example, if the introverted individual you’re trying to befriend is really amazing at painting, you can complement their works of art without really knowing how they’re able to make them so intricately.
A fantastic friend is a good listener and a good listener is exactly who most introverts enjoy interacting with. Talking to a good listener means not having to repeat one’s self just to get their point across. If you genuinely want to be friends with an introvert, then you better start being a good listener.
Whenever the other person is talking, never talk over them. Let them finish what they have to say and make sure you understand the entirety of what they’re saying. If there’s something you just can’t fully comprehend, don’t hesitate to ask. At least you’re paying attention.
Be a source of comfort
Whenever your introverted friend needs someone to talk to and confide in, be sure you’re that place of comfort they can approach. Being a good listener also helps here. Another thing you can do to be a source of comfort to another person is to simply be as lively and as approachable as you can be most of the time. If a person sees you as someone cheerful and reliable, it will be easy for them to be comfortable with you.
Another important factor for this one is honesty. Always be honest without being tactless. Speak your mind if it is helpful to the situation. If they know they can rely on you to be honest with them, if they see you as a genuine person, then they’ll be comfortable with you.
Use humor as a socializing tool
Don’t underestimate the positive effects a good sense of humor can bring to an interaction. Since introverts mostly prefer to keep to themselves and stay at home, whenever they do hang out and spend time with you, make sure it is worth their while. Make them have fun, make them laugh, and be the reason why they’re having an amazing time.
If humor is not your strongest suit, then worry not. Humor may be innate for many but it is something anyone can learn to have with study and practice. Thankfully, studying humor isn’t as tedious as you might think. Simply watch as many stand-up comedian sets and sitcoms as you can. See how comedians craft their stories to make their punchlines as hilarious as possible. You can also gather stories from your past and tell the most hilarious ones in hindsight.
Be the active force
Most introverts, if they were to hang out with other people, prefer to go along the desires of the group or the other person. They will rarely plead the things they prefer and will instead go with the decision of the majority. A lot of introverts see this as a way of experience things they otherwise would never try themselves.
If you’re befriending an introvert, don’t be afraid to be the active force in the friendship. Invite them to places and activities you know they will enjoy. You should also still take their interests and personalities into consideration, of course. Don’t force them to do things you know they will hate. Be active while remaining considerate.
While you’re the active force most of the time, you should also allow them to voice out their opinions from time to time. Encourage them to tell you what they want and do things their way.
Being friends with an introvert is not as difficult as it sounds. A lot of people see introverts as these anti-social individuals when in reality, they simply have a different way of approaching their social lives. The only thing you really have to do is to treat them like everybody else, and like everybody else, they have their own preference, interests, likes, and dislikes, and if you want to be their friend, you should take all of that into consideration.