There are many wonderful things about having friends who are different from you. They can make you see the world from a different perspective and bring you out of your comfort zones in wonderful ways. However, sometimes it can be difficult to understand the needs of someone with different ways of experiencing that world. I’ve struggled throughout my life with helping my more extroverted friends understand why I don’t call as much as they do. Or to explain that I really am okay with staying in on a Friday night, I’m actually happier not joining you at that loud party with all those strangers. Before you write off your introverted friends thinking that they don’t care about you, keep these things in mind.
We value your friendship but sometimes need our space. Extroverts often find energy among groups of people, Introverts don’t. Even people we love and enjoy, can make us feel drained of energy and we need time to recharge.
Please don’t guilt trip us for leaving a party early or taking a few minutes outside and take a people break. Sometimes a few moments away from the noise and demands of people can give us the time needed to jump back in to the fray.
Understand that sometimes we may ignore a phone call but immediately answer a text. We want to connect but talking can be more difficult than texting. In text we can collect our thoughts in ways that are not possible when chatting. You may even find that we open up to you more in a text or letter or email than if we’re with you in person.
If you draw attention to our quietness (especially in a group) we may seem okay with it on the outside but it will sting. We speak when we have something to say. If the silence makes you uncomfortable ask questions, change the subject, do some of your extrovert conversation tricks to keep things rolling. And keep in mind that many introverts have more to say if the topics are deeper, rather than shallow small talk. (Ask me a random question about difficult ethics or a new book that just came out or the difference between zombies and mummies and I can talk for hours.)
We often take longer to respond to questions because we’re thinking about the response, and yes, sometimes overanalyzing that response. Try to allow us a pause to answer and don’t jump ahead trying to fill a void, if this happens too many times we may stop replying all together and withdraw even more.
Thinking about the ways that we differ in social situations will help us have deeper relationships and a greater understanding of the people around us. More extroverted friends can help us grow and come out of our shells a little and we can be that friend for extroverts that helps them slow down and find small quiet moments. Be kind, be understanding, love and appreciate each other for all your wonderful uniqueness.