An introvert’s guide to socialising

We live in an extroverted world, but socialising isn’t just an extrovert’s game. We look at some ways introverts can navigate social terrains.

OneLife  staff writer

OneLife staff writer

Staff writer

There are many misconceptions about being an introvert. For one thing, introverts aren’t necessarily the shy, lonely, and socially anxious people they’re often made out to be. The truth is that “there is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert”, according to Carl Jung, the Swiss psychoanalyst whose research popularised the personality traits.

Though for people on the introverted side – those who prefer smaller group settings, who consider their words carefully, who are energised by low-stimulation work environments, who take time to solve problems, who are conflict-averse, and who recharge their batteries by being alone – life can be tough. Because the simple fact is, whatever your personality type, we live in an extrovert’s world.

But introverts needn’t worry. According to Susan Cain, author of the bestselling book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, the world needs introverts. In fact, history is full of them: Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Mahatma Gandhi – to name a few.

Here, we look at some of the ways introverts can better navigate socialising, be it in the workplace, classroom, or social theatre.

Make time for social time

Life is all about balance. And while there is debate over how strongly happiness and socialising are connected, there are nevertheless measurable benefits for introverts in finding time to socialise.

While it’s useful to engage in social situations, remember to be realistic about your expectations. If you lean more towards the introverted end of the spectrum, it’s unlikely that you’ll suddenly transform into the life of the party. Start small and set some goals for yourself: if you’re heading to a social gathering, maybe aim to introduce yourself to one or two people.

If you’re at a loss looking for social activities, resources like Meetup can be a great way to get in touch with people who share a common interest with you. If – like many introverts – you’re not a fan of crowded, loud environments, you might enjoy joining a hiking group or trying your hand at Japanese calligraphy. Best of all, if you attend a meetup you’ll already have something to talk about – relieving some of the small-talk pressure.

Make your #onechange

Introduce yourself to somebody new this week. And remember, the world needs introverts.

Make time for your time

Former President Barack Obama is an introvert. He spent around five scheduled and solitary hours every night shut away in his private office in the White House residence, doing any number of things like working on speeches, reading briefing papers, writing emails, playing Words With Friends – usually with ESPN playing quietly in the background. It was precious time that the introvert-in-chief used to counterbalance his crowded days.

Acknowledging that you need alone time and then designating periods of solitude with clear boundaries is a way to control expectations and mediate the solo space you need.

Practise conversation

Like any art, conversing is a skill. It takes practice.

As painful as small talk can feel, it’s an unavoidable part of modern life. It can be anything from chitchat in the supermarket aisle to gossip by the water cooler. Luckily, there are tricks for getting better at small talk – ranging from how to recognise talking cues to when to ask questions – that have lasting benefits for introverts.

Practising small talk can also help when it comes to having more substantial conversations, opening up the possibility of doing things like speaking up during meetings. Susan Cain recommends introverts plan ahead of those bigger situations – prepare talking points before the meeting or group event in advance.

Lead like an introvert

Leaders are more likely to be extroverted. It’s a trait that starts in school, where big, high-stimulation classrooms teach introverted kids that they should act like extroverts to get ahead.

But extroversion is not a rule for leadership success. There are different styles of leadership and no one-size-fits-all approach. Introverts don’t need to act like extroverts to be successful leaders. Rather, some experts argue, the trick is to find confidence in their own innate leadership skills. Because even in this loud, busy world of ours, the quieter souls can still outperform the rest.

OneLife  staff writer

OneLife staff writers come from a range of backgrounds including health, wellbeing, music, tech, culture and the arts. They spend their time researching the latest data and trends in the health market to deliver up-to-date information, helping everyday Australians live healthier lives. This is general information only and is not intended as medical, health, nutritional or other advice. You should obtain professional advice from a medical or health practitioner in relation to your own personal circumstances. The information in this article is general information only and is not intended as medical, health, nutritional or other advice. You should obtain professional advice from a medical or health practitioner in relation to your own personal circumstances.

The information in this article is general information only and is not intended as financial, medical, health, nutritional, tax or other advice. It does not take into account any individual’s personal situation or needs. You should consider obtaining professional advice from a financial adviser and/or tax specialist, or medical or health practitioner, in relation to your own circumstances and before acting on this information.