In Practice

Putting social psychology to work for you

4 Social Tips for Introverts

Social tips for introverts that aren't "just act like an extrovert."

http://www.flickr.com/photos/markjsebastian/2174860628/ Photopin CC
http://www.flickr.com/photos/markjsebastian/2174860628/ photopin CC
Social tips for introverts can be a thorny topic.

No one wants to be told to "just act like an extrovert."

Also, there are all sorts of different kinds of introverts - some who are shy, some who are anxious, some who are quiet, some who are Highly Sensitive, and others who are not these things. Much of the current writing on introversion seems to mostly apply to Highly Sensitive introverts (including mine).

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Whenever you read any general psychological advice, it's important you feel empowered to "cherry pick" - take onboard what you can relate to and ignore anything that's unhelpful. It might not be wrong advice, it might just not be right for you.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/shashchatter/176714209/ Photopin CC

http://www.flickr.com/photos/shashchatter/176714209/ Photopin CC
1. Understand if you're "slow to warm."

Slow to warm is a temperament style. Some signs of having a slow to warm style include:

- wanting to stand back and get a read on a social situation before jumping in,

or,

- being a little suspicious of people when you first meet them e.g., when you first meet your sister's boyfriend. You like to get to observe and get to know people rather than automatically trusting them.

or,

- your warmth and friendliness are displayed with people you know and trust rather than everybody. 

At the very least, understanding your temperament style will allow you to help other people understand you. 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/markjsebastian/504073992/ Photopin CC

http://www.flickr.com/photos/markjsebastian/504073992/ Photopin CC
2. Get to know how other aspects of your temperament and personality interact with your introversion.

For example, if you're high in the personality trait of "disagreeableness" you may have a tendency to "start with no and move to yes" meaning your initial reaction to opportunities that involve a social component is to say no but you have the capacity to come around to yes once you've had an opportunity to process the offer and mull through the associated pros and cons.

If the above is true for you, understand why it's true. For example, you feel easily overwhelmed and flustered at the thought of adding anything to your to do list or adding anymore social contact into your life. Or, it might be because your brain is wired to jump first to thinking about the negatives before you think about the positives.

Self-awareness allows you to autocorrect and allows you to explain your nature to the people you're close to to help them understand your reactions. 

While disagreeableness sounds like an unpleasant trait to have, having an independent streak can make you a good entrepeneur, good at standing up against inequality etc.

3. Grab yourself an extrovert who can explain to you the inner world of the extrovert.

For example, an extrovert recently explained to me that she had tried several times to engage with a blogger by leaving helpful comments on their blog, but had received no response.

Introverts often take in and appreciate things they read or hear without giving feedback (because social output is exhausting and because we tend to go away and process rather than responding immediately). 

By understanding the world of the extrovert, you can be more mindful of their social needs.

It can be a difficult needle to thread, but work on developing personal strategies that don't exhaust you but also don't result in you being perceived as rude.

4. Openness to other people's ideas. 

If you have a very active internal world and are already busy processing a lot of your own ideas, receiving external ideas (especially unsolicited) may easily overstimulate you. 

If you can become aware of when an injection of external ideas overstimulates you, again you can develop strategies. For example, you could more confidently ignore feedback you're disinterested in, or wait until your overstimulation subsides before responding. 

If you liked this article, you might like

6 Success Tips for People Who Are Anxious or Sensitive

7 Success Tips for Introverts

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photo credits: mark sebastianshashchatter via photopin cc

Alice Boyes, Ph.D. translates principles from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and social psychology into tips people can use in their everyday lives.

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