Introverts are simply people who feel more balanced when they have larger amounts of alone time, versus extroverts, who in turn feel more balanced when they’re in stimulating social environments more often than not. That’s all introversion and extroversion really are. However, due to our natural desire to spend ample amounts of time with our own brains rather than picking the brains of others, we also have a tendency to not be as skilled in the social arena as our extroverted counterparts. This can lead to feeling invisible among friends, family, co-workers and bosses, during the times when you really would like some acknowledgement or notice.
Introverts need a healthy social atmosphere as much as anyone, but we tend to have a tough time convincing people that A) We actually do like you and B) We’re worth liking too. This is because it’s so easy for our need to be alone to come off antisocial rather than introverted. Here are some social hacks that I’ve found to be handy and help me avoid these problems without necessarily changing what I am.
Be Around During Good Times
David J. Lieberman discusses The Law of Association in his book Get Anyone to Do Anything (some classic social engineering literature). This law states that “by pairing yourself with pleasurable stimuli another person will begin to associate you with this feeling.” Simply put, if you’re around when the people you want to build and maintain relationships with are feeling good about something, then you’re solidifying a positive relationship with that person. This could be your spouse, friends, parents, in-laws, co-workers, and your boss. The best thing about this rule for introverts is that you don’t have to say anything, or be anything you’re not. You just simply want to be present to put this law into effect. Show up to the celebration when your buddy gets a new job, and when the in-laws invite you to Christmas, try to make it happen. Likewise, you don’t have to show up to everything. You simply want people to associate you with positive feelings, even if they’re few and far between.
Figure Out A Game Plan For Conversation, Ahead Of Time
It’s okay if you’re not a great conversationalist. The easy way to transform that is to ask questions and become the sounding board, which most of us introverts are happy to do in a social situation. But this is pretty standard information. What’s not so standard is knowing which questions to ask. Without that knowledge, you end up just talking about the weather, or silencing away your company.
Use social media sites to help out with this. When you know that you’re going to be meeting up with some friends, just check out their social media profiles and see what they’ve been up to. If you have an iPhone you can use Refresh, which will grab all of the person’s social information off of the web and make it easy for you to see what’s going on with them all at once, what their interests are, and allow you to look for things you both have in common, which are the things that will be much easier to talk about. If you’re an Android user, the closest thing to Refresh is Contacts+.
To keep you from checking your phone all night at a social event, put your memory to use so that you already know what your conversation game plan is for the night.
Don’t be a suck up, but don’t withhold the fact that you’re interested in getting to know someone either. People have a tendency to like others who like them. When you’re talking to someone, pick up on cues for when it’s time to pay positive compliments and phrases like “Wow, it’s pretty cool that you did that". When used with the right body language, these phrases show enthusiasm and interest. This will get you on the good side of everyone you want to meet and get along with.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Controversy
If you’re looking to make a bigger impact than just being liked in a crowd of people, take a cue from Chelsea and cut back on your censorship. Being yourself is truly the way to the best friendships. People put on a facade to avoid controversy, which is a smart decision in some situations. However, the truth remains that controversy is polarizing. If you’re forward and speak your mind, people will either love or hate you. You’ll likely get a little (or a lot) of both, but you can really count on having some truly genuine relationships stem from this. If that’s worth the loss of a few superficial ones to you, then go for it. Say what you think, laugh when you want, and wonder aloud. Don’t be an asshole and aim to piss people off, but don’t worry so much about what others are thinking that you become less genuine.
Start working on some of these and watch your social capital take an upward curve. If you have any tips of your own I'd love to know as well.