A lonely introvert, does that sound impossible to you? After all are introverts not the people who prefer being on their own? Is lockdown and homeworking not “the time of the introvert”?
No, those are just introvert myths. It is possible to be a lonely introvert. Introverts, just like extroverts need the company of other humans. Introverts may want that human interaction to be in different quantities or be structured differently, and they may get overstimulated/ tired more easily from it; but they are human and humans are social creatures.
A lonely introvert
Since “lockdown” people are socialising far less (if at all). That’s less networking, less face to face meetings, less chatting and less small talk. I suspect when lockdown ends we will all be craving human contact.
In America a study of 2,000 people found introverts experienced more loneliness than extraverts during lockdown and were less likely to proactively interact with others. In the report:
- Half of introverts surveyed report increased levels of loneliness during the pandemic, compared to only a third of extraverts.
- 31% of introverts reported instances of unhappiness, compared to only 12% of extraverts.
- Nearly 70% of introverts cannot think of a fun way they kept in touch with close friends in the pandemic, where less than half of extraverts said the same.
- Introverts communicated with friends and family less frequently.
This is very similar to my own less formal surveys and discussions on the subject. Before lockdown most people, including introverts, regularly socialised in one form or another. This could have been pure social, or work social like networking meetings. Home working and lockdown means you have to actively seek contact. Extroverts are used to being proactive with this and many introverts haven’t proactively sought socialisation. Therefore, more introverts have become lonely or unhappy.
It’s a myth that introverts dislike social interaction. They will find it tiring and need time to recharge afterwards, but they enjoy talking to people just like any other human.
So, it’s the introvert’s fault?
In many ways the answer must be yes, it is the fault of the introvert if they’re feeling lonely. Introverts are probably not used to being proactive about creating human contact.
Networking provides contact.
In the old world business networking meetings provided a contact point for many business owners, including introverts. During lockdown most of these meetings have gone online and some have stopped altogether.
While virtual networking meetings are not as strong a contact point as face to face, they still work. Although less so for many introverts. In this episode of “Activate Your Introvert” Angie Phillips said that introverts can easily find online meetings harder to make contact than extroverts. So, remote networking meetings are not helping introverts counteract loneliness.
One tip to deal with this, taken from Ninja Networking, is to focus more on one to one meetings than traditional networking meetings. Introverts are much more comfortable in these smaller conversations but need to focus on proactively creating them.
We are all human.
It all goes to show Introverts must enjoy socialising, or as many couldn’t have felt lonely.
It’s reasonable to say that in different ways everybody is suffering as a result of less, and less intense, human contact at the moment. Let’s all be more willing to reach out and all be willing to support each other. Hopefully the situation is slowly improving, but after a year of being at home I suspect we will all struggle with the next change too.
What two or three people could you make contact with and have a conversation with? If you’re struggling with zoom fatigue, use the phone, but practice your small talk skills and arrange some communication if you feel like a lonely introvert.