Shut-up and Talk: An Introvert Way to Be Social

patriciawebers Animation by patriciaweber on GoAnimate

My husband’s niece is staying with us for about 10 weeks this summer. She’s a sharp young lady, who in her second year of college is accepted for an internship with NASA. Outstanding huh? Because we live within a 30-minute drive of NASA, on learning the application was accepted, my husband volunteered us to be her lodging and transportation. He’s a generous man. Just a bit into this stay I realize the real commitment means more interaction so, how to handle this?

Love yourself the way you are. In Zen Habits, one of my favorite blogs, a recent post centered on a most important skill to master being learning to be happy with yourself. Consider any situation where you’re almost forced to bring into play more extroverting skills. For example, if a situation calls for being more conversational and with more people (aye yae yae), and you think you can’t be that way, or feel you aren’t good at it, or have no interest in improving, then you’ve pretty much straight-jacketed yourself into being just that way – less conversational. How does this help? It doesn’t! So love the you who is a thinker first, and then find other thoughts to move you in the interaction direction.

What you resist persists. The amount of energy you lose in resisting change isn’t worth it. Even though over interaction is draining, as an introvert we find that more purposeful and thoughtful interaction is energy building. What I find is that by being other-focused and curious can lead to interesting discussions where I can stay engaged. “What giant step for mankind did you accomplish today?” doesn’t go into the thick weeds of scientific jargon that might be going on at NASA, thank goodness! But instead, we find the conversation considering how people are working together, or not, in team situations. That’s a conversation I can take many directions – lead, contribute and enjoy. Let go of what you are resisting and allow your creativity to steer the conversation.

Step away from your triggers. Literally, take the time to put your mind and body in a place to be aware of what is triggering you. For me when we have house guests, it’s those first few minutes after I arrive home and there’s already a conversation in play. I don’t want all the little details to catch up anyway. It’s too much trivia for me. So, I quietly and slowly move about getting a cool glass of ice tea while I eaves drop on the conversation. That allows me time enough to engage my mind and know what I can contribute to the conversation. It’s just enough of a step away, that unrelated action of something like getting that cool ice tea, to let the trigger work in a positive way.

In the end it’s about being in integrity with yourself. Being happy with the way you are, letting go of the need have to talk in a certain way, about certain things, and to take the time to check-in with your own thoughts and feelings. If we can stay with our natural inclination of “shut-up”, think and then talk, we can enjoy more interaction regardless of it being a personal or business situation. I feel it being a sensational summer.

What about you? How do you handle things when faced with situations – personal or business – that demand more interaction?

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  1. “What you resist persists.” Genius! Thank you, Patricia, for teaching us about the importance of mindfulness. What I cherish about introverts is their insightfulness. This post is a prime example.

  2. Jeannette Paladino

    Pat — it’s so interesting that that the latest posts on each of our blog discuss Zen. The words that resonate with me are “letting go.” You’ve got to let go of the past and accept change. I know that from the personal experience of losing my beloved husband. I’m in a place now where I can laugh about our funny experiences together and his idiosyncrasies (we all have them)like taking a silver knife and fork to the pizza parlor because he hated plastic utensils. As the theater folks say, “stay in the moment.” Enjoy yourself right now. Don’t dwell on the past and don’t set unrealistic goals for the future. Just be.

  3. Bindhurani

    Coming from LinkedIn to read.
    I am more of a talker most of the time. As a host, I am pathetic though. I forget to serve all the dishes I made, forget to tell them to taste this and tat, etc. To overcome my faults or imperfections, I tell them frankly about the mistakes i made. While every one is laughing, I check one more time to see if any thing I forget. Then, tell every one, to treat themselves and loudly admits about me being a bad host. Being introvert, and my dinner guest, you may not get enough to fill up your tummy.
    My husband don’t like to be at big gatherings and cannot handle more than 3 people at a time. So, it is my responsibility to keep the conversation going, while keeping him at his ease.
    Thanks for your tip about the ice tea. It is a good one to tell my hubby.

  4. Yes @Jeannette – be in the present moment. Sage advice! And I loved your recent post at as you can imagine.

  5. @Amyjdean – yes; insightfulness that must come from us being in our head! Thanks.

  6. @Bindhurani – you sound like a sweet extrovert! The introvert and extrovert in love works; I’m married to one. It’s always helpful to have him by my side to carry a conversation when I just would rather not.

  7. Being a dyslexic and introvert has made for an interesting life. I can relate with a number of your points, actually all of them. The part where you talk about stepping away and eavesdropping on a conversation to give you the time and space to know how to contribute, is one I have used instinctively and it has worked very well. Thank you for a thoughtful post.

  8. Oh dear Susan. I can only imagine the double interesting life you have had! And you are right, there is so much that IS instinctive. Sometimes that pressure makes us better, doesn’t it?

  9. Love the cartoon, Pat. One of the things I love about my introvert friends is how well they listen. It’s something I need to learn to do better, too.

  10. Looking forward to more great blog posts!

  11. Theresa, even some introverts could learn to listen better! It’s a gift.

  12. Seriously love your blog and looking forward to more
    Theresa Wagar recently posted…3 Easy Ways Google Maps and Google + Local Will Deliver Customers to Your DoorMy Profile

  13. Nodding my head about the eavesdropping – I have taught myself to do that in order to be more comfortable in groups.

    Also not putting the pressure on myself to perform per se, but to activly listen and be interedted in what others are talking about helps too- instead of mentally planning the next response.
    Jill Green recently posted…Summer Anxiety TriggersMy Profile

  14. @Jill personally I believe that this one: to be more interested than trying to be interested, is something introverts do naturally.

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