I’ve heard it a lot, “it’s OK for you introverts, you like spending time on your own” – well that’s true and it’s very, very, wrong.
My response to one person was “you love being in a group of people, imagine you were in that group, energised, random discussions and socialising 24 hours a day for a week, two weeks – how would you feel?”. They were shocked and then realised that after 3 days of a conference even they, as a strong extrovert, needed peace and quiet.
That’s when I quietly looked at them for a minute, to see if they’d get my point. Initial confusion, then the light came on – “Yes, even introverts can get lonely and want social interaction”.
But chatter doesn’t do it
Listening to “meaningless” chatter is great for a moment, then it’s not. It’s a bit like being hungry and eating four bags of crisps. At first, it’s great; then you crave something meatier and more substantive (by the way, as veggie I don’t mean meatier in a literal sense).
It’s a bit like being hungry and eating four bags of crisps
Meaningful social interaction.
“Meaningful” is why many people don’t like small talk, they prefer to grapple with something more important (to them or others), more thought provoking, or simply requires more mental engagement.
One early reaction to the lockdown is that everybody seems to be constantly on Zoom calls and webinars. How many of these webinars will result in clear action, as opposed to just becoming background noise we get tired of?
What meaningful to you? I can’t answer, I can’t even suggest, but I’m intrigued to hear what works for a range of people. For me it’s conversations with businesspeople about the actions they are taking to move forwards, rather than hundreds of good ideas that will get ignored.
Maybe you could spend time talking with extroverts, helping those that want more conversations. It would be helping them (does that make it meaningful for you?), and could even help you – if they end up understanding your preferences.
Introvert/ extrovert – it’s about energy.
There’s a myth that introverts don’t socialise, don’t like to talk and like to spend their time without interaction. The truth is the answer to the question “How are you energised?”.
If you normally are energised by spending time on your own, that’s different to others who are normally energised by time in large groups.
There are always exceptions. The current situation is an exception, after days of lockdown you may get energised by conversation, that doesn’t make you an extrovert!
For an introvert a couple of days on their own can be energising, but after that we all need a level of interaction.
Finally the important point, how are you managing your energy? What action re you taking to ensure you have the right level of meaningful conversations for you?
Stay healthy, keep interacting,