How to Chat up an Introvert
Take a quiet approach to meet the introvert of your dreams.
Posted November 21, 2011
Where can one find introverts, and when you do, what's the best way approach them? After all, the introvert reading quietly in Starbucks may or may not be receptive to even friendly intrusion.
Where do you find introverts? Wandering around bookstores. In the quietest room at the party. In the nooks and corners of live-music venues. Among your Facebook friends' Facebook friends. (I've seen plenty of my friends hit it off in discussions on my status updates.) Sometimes you'll see them riding the tailwind of extroverted friends. Introverts are all around you, not calling attention to themselves. Noticing them is job number one.
How can you tell if an introvert is receptive to being approached? In public places, body language can help. Is the person sitting facing out towards the room or turned away from it? Is he or she looking up and around or absorbed in a book? At parties, everyone is fair game, conversation-wise, so if you see an introvert watching the activity in that introvert way, feel free to strike up a conversation.
How should an extrovert approach an introvert? For heaven's sake, don't make a big fuss about it. Introverts usually are glad to be drawn into conversation. Step quietly into an introvert's space. No big, sudden moves, no boisterous entrances. At a party, try drawing an introvert into group conversation. All it takes is a look, a question, and then some space to let the introvert join in. Remember, introverts won't fight for airspace in a conversation.
How do two introverts overcome an introvert standoff? Furtive glances at each other can only take you so far. And by "so far," I mean nowhere. Somebody will have to step out of the introvert comfort zone at some point and it might as well be you. The good news is, your powers of observation can really work for you here; note something (not too personal) about the person and use that to start a conversation.
How to keep the conversation going: Try to get past chit-chat to at least semi-substantive conversation quickly. Try asking the introvert's opinion on something. Introverts have a lot of opinions because we spend a lot of time thinking about things, but we often won't volunteer them without encouragement. We tend to listen until we are explicitly invited or encouraged to talk.
How can you tell if an introvert is interested? Eye contact is usually a good sign that you've penetrated an introvert's wall of indifference.
How to ask an introvert out: No great mystery here. "Would you like to go out some time?" should work. Or, if the conversation suggests a specific activity, use that. "I've been wanting to see that exhibit, too. Perhaps we could go together?" Then, get an email address as well as a phone number.
What to do to on a first date with an introvert: Personally, I like doing stuff (and this goes for making new friends as well as dating). Going to a museum, a movie, taking a walk. This makes conversation flow more easily during the awkward getting-to-know-you stage. In a more intimate one-to-one setting (i.e. dinner in a restaurant), I'm at risk of launching into nervous babble and over-disclosing, and shame is never good for for a budding relationship.
My book, The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World, is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be released December 4, just in time for party/festive/family-togetherness season. You know you need it.