I grew up with the belief that I should treat others exactly how I would like to be treated, but as I got older and learned more about personality differences, I realized how I would like to be treated may not be what others preferred. I’m an introvert, meaning that I’m energized by the internal world such as thoughts, ideas, and memories. My old roommate is an extrovert, meaning that she’s energized by the external world such as people, experience, and activity. The first few months of living together didn’t work well because we didn’t know how to care for each other! I would try to give her space by always knocking on her door. She got annoyed because I kept knocking, and wouldn’t let myself in, and I got annoyed when she barged in my room without warning! Eventually, we learned more about each other and adjusted according to our preferences, but some people aren’t able to sit down and discuss how to work with their differences so I’d like to share 7 practical ways to care for an introvert.
1. Get to the Point
If there’s a reason you called your introverted friend, get to that reason fairly quickly! Otherwise, they will seem short and you may get the feeling they don’t want to talk to you. Don’t think that! Introverts just aren’t very comfortable with small talk. If it’s possible to skip the "How’s it going?" part of the conversation and get to why you really called, go for it!
2. Respect Their Privacy
In my first year of college, I lived in a dorm hall where everyone had their own rooms. My side of the hall would keep their doors opened or unlocked and walk in and out of each other’s rooms as they pleased. Of course as an introvert, that wasn’t the case for my room! Introverts need privacy, and thankfully my hall mates respected that. Before you enter into an introvert’s home, dorm, purse, phone, etc., ask for permission first, even if you are their sister!
3. Don't Force Them to Talk
When introverts want to talk, they will. Trying to force them to say something will only make them uncomfortable and maybe even embarrassed! If you really want an introvert to talk, talk about what interests them, then see if you can get them to stop talking!
4. Don't Interrupt Them
Introverts think before they speak, so whenever they say something, it’s very likely that they decided it was worth saying. When introverts are interrupted, they feel like they weren’t being listened to and there’s almost no chance that they’ll repeat what they said. A good way to care for introverts is to let them finish what they’re saying, and then add or change the topic.
5. Give Them Time to Reflect
One of the really good ways to care for an introvert is to give them time for reflection. If you demand immediate responses from an introvert, that person may not respond at all. If you give them time to think and reflect on what you said or asked, introverts will get back to you will the best quality response they could concoct!
6. Don’t Just Show up
If you want to see an angry introvert, show up at that person’s house one Friday and announce that you’ll be staying with them for the weekend. That introvert will be upset for a long time! And don’t expect to be treated like a welcome houseguest, because that’s highly unlikely. Introverts don’t function best when they’re surprised. Talk to them about it a couple of days in advance, so they can prepare for your visit, then everyone will be happy!
7. Don’t Try to Make Them More Extroverted
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with introversion, and the best way to care for introverts is to accept them for who they are, and appreciate what they bring to the relationship. Introverts are not antisocial, they don’t need help in social situations, and they are not lonely people who need to me more extroverted. Love them for their introversion!
How do you think these 7 ways to care for an introvert can help you build stronger relationships with introverts you know?