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5 Ways This Introvert Responds at a Social Gathering

By November 25, 2013May 13th, 2014Culture, Encouragement


Social gatherings. I love them. I really do. As an introvert, however, they can be very difficult. Introverts are typically far more likely to be placed in awkward, uncomfortable situations when the crowds are large.

People have a hard time believing I am introverted. Certainly I’m not on Sunday.  I intentionally try to meet as many people as possible. And, I have plenty experience in extroverted environments. I’ve even served in public office. I can work a room if I need to do so.

Introversion is a personality based on preferences. It’s how someone is wired by life. We don’t simply choose to be introverted. We are programmed that way in our core personality.

So, knowing this time of year can be uncomfortable at times, I thought recently about how I respond in social settings where I’m not the host or where I don’t know most everyone in the room.

This may not be true for all introverts, but it is for me. I had this discussion with a fellow introvert. He said he just avoids all parties this time of year. I don’t want to do that, but knowing my reaction will hopefully keep me from hiding out in my personality and missing fun I really do often want to have.

Here is my typical response:

Find the corner – I look for a place away from the crowds to adjust to that space. I do this before even looking around to see who is in the room. I’ve been told, “I waved at you when you entered the room”, but I didn’t see you. I promise. I wasn’t even looking yet.

Survey the room – After a pause, this is when I finally begin to process who is in the room. Who do I know? Where’s the “safe” place to begin conversation? It’s usually with people I somewhat know and can easily begin conversation.

Spot the extroverts – It’s not that I don’t want to talk to them. Possibly they are some of the ones I most want to talk to, but I need time to “warm up” first. Many times these people launch into heavy conversation as soon as an introvert hits the door. The thought that this might happen is many times one of our biggest fears…and a main reason we avoid the social gathering altogether.

Look for an opportunity – When can I best break into a conversation? Many times if I can get started I’m good. Getting started is the hardest part. I won’t interrupt. Introverts typically don’t do that. We are gentleman (and gentlewomen) communicators.

Decide whether or not to move forward – At this point, I will either make the best of it…and many times have a great time if I do…or flame out early…or never ignite at all. It’s sad, but true. I’ve gone through this routine countless times only to spend a few minutes at a gathering before exiting as quickly as possible.

So, introverts, let’s not miss the parties we want to attend. If you want to stay home…great. But, I am committing not to allow my introversion to stop me. I’ll do this by disciplining myself to attend, adjust, and engage.

Help me out introverts, because whenever I post about this extroverts accuse me of all kinds of things.  (That’s why I wrote THIS POST). If you’re an extrovert and want to know how to better engage with introverts, read THIS POST.

Introverts, any other ways you respond in these type settings?

Are any of these true for you?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 18 Comments

  • David says:

    Ron, I have definitely seen the same pattern in myself time and time again. Sit in the corner with your back to the wall, where you can observe everything and no one can sneak up on you. Even in a restaurant where you’re only actually interacting with the handful of people at your own table.
    Even posting on here. First ever blog comment.
    #SmallVictories (Because winning the battles leads to winning the war).

  • Alejandro says:

    I think you have a good modus operandi. For me, the hardest part is to get myself outta my pc, my chair, my room or my house. When i'm warm and comfortable, going outside feels so not appealing, even though i know deep inside i want to go outside and have fun. Hard stuff… anyway, good post.

  • Amy says:

    As someone who has gotten up the courage to go to the party, but have, more than once, never gotten up the courage to get out of the car, thanks for this. It's a great strategy. I, too, have learned how to be extroverted when needed (like every single Sunday at church), but sometimes, I just can't get there. This will be a helpful way to get out there and have some fun with new people.

  • Sue says:

    Attend, adjust, engage – brilliant! I work with groups of very bright kids, many of whom are introverts, and I am a pretty intense introvert myself. I have explored with them strategies for coping with social situations and I'm going to introduce those three words to them as a mantra for getting into the right head space to handle parties and other gatherings where they have to deal with large groups. Thanks!

  • Michelle says:

    Love this! As an introvert, I can say you once again hit the nail on the head. Love your blogs and hardly ever miss a day reading them.

  • KAS says:

    "When can I best break into a conversation? Many times if I can get started I’m good. Getting started is the hardest part. I won’t interrupt. Introverts typically don’t do that. We are gentleman (and gentlewomen) communicators." YES. exactly this. Hidden Gem, I totally feel you. Though for me it's also partly that it gives me something to do.

  • Don Livermore says:

    I got a small chuckle too! That was cute….

  • Hidden Gem says:

    This is not always advisable, but for me, a glass of wine goes a long way toward helping me to break the ice in an uncomfortable social situation. Am I the only one?

    • ronedmondson says:

      Ha! I don't think you were aiming this to be funny, but for some reason it made me chuckle. 🙂

    • AVA says:

      I agree, but it's a slippery slope for me. It's a little too easy to continue to use that strategy throughout the evening. Each time a conversation ends and I'm left alone, it's time for another drink. And I've found that alcohol tends to amplify whatever I'm feeling. So at the beginning of the night, I want to be social, so a drink helps me be more of that. But by the end of the night, I might just be the drunk girl staring at people from the corner, and that's not good. 🙁

  • kathyfannon

    As an extrovert, this post helps me to be more sensitive to the introverts in my life. I also realize I have introvert tendencies when in a situation where I don't know people, as I will do what you've described here. But if I know people, I can schmooze with the best of 'em!