Respecting the Introvert

“A few things to consider if someone you care about falls more on the introverted end of the spectrum:

1. Think of each of us as having a cup of energy available.

For introverts, most social interactions take a little out of that cup instead of filling it the way it does for extroverts. Most of us like it. We’re happy to give and love to see you. When the cup is empty, though, we need some time to refuel. We aren’t mad. We don’t stop caring about you. We’ll be so happy to see you and talk to you again when we’ve had some time to decompress.

2. Silence isn’t a bad thing.

Really. It’s not an insult. It’s the introvert’s way of conserving energy and restoring him or herself. If we can be quiet with you (and you can be content being quiet with us) it’s a huge compliment and a huge relief. Other times the quiet really does need to be spent alone. We come back when we’re ready. It’s worth the wait.

5. All of this really comes down to respect.

Each of us has our own set of boundaries, our own way of communicating and our own needs. When you care about someone, you choose to communicate with him or her in ways that show you love and respect them. If your cup is filled by lots of interaction with others, go for it! Be in tune with your own needs, and enjoy the way that time with others energizes you. If someone you love is an introvert, and needs time to him or herself, tune into and respect that as well. We don’t do activities alone because we are sad, or negative or depressed; we do it because that’s what fills our cup back up. We’ll be even happier to see you when we come back.

“As someone who works with people all the time, you’d think I’d be an extrovert. I’m friendly. I’m not shy. But when I get close to my “people time” limit, it’s time to shut down, be quiet and hole up with a good book.”

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