I’m an introvert.
I’m also a pastor.
In my role as a pastor, I am forced out of my comfortable and solitary box to form genuine connections with people on a regular basis. Those of you that are introverts understand how seemingly impossible this is for us!
Being an introvert does NOT mean I’m shy.
Shyness is one of the characteristics introverts are given because we prefer to not be around a lot of people. Introverts are drained by people while extroverts get a boost of energy after having small talk with the 50th person in the room (that would be a nightmare for us!). On the other hand, introverts gain energy by being alone or with a very small group of trusted friends.
Most of the people who meet me automatically assume I’m an extrovert. Contrary to this belief, I am much more comfortable reading books written by dead guys about subjects most people aren’t interested in. I have been working on a paper all morning and feel incredibly energized and refreshed! On the other hand, every Sunday after church I am physically and mentally exhausted.
If you’re an introvert, I want to help you. Here are three things that will enable you to thrive in the midst of an extroverted world!
1. Play to your Strengths.
I can spend hours reading, writing, and doing research. Many introverts are known as “bookworms”. This is a GOOD thing! When it comes to thriving in conversation, use your research skills! I have spent hours reading about the art of conversation. Although it may not be natural to you, I would challenge you to attack it with the same tenacity as you would a research or writing project.
2. Write-Down Questions.
This may sound cheesy but I literally write down questions when I’m going out to eat with someone. I don’t bring my questions with and interview them (usually) but it enables me to lead the conversation and express a genuine interest in the other person. If you prepare before a planned conversation (which most introverts dread), you will earn the other person’s favor and they will think you are one of the most engaging people they have met!
This leads me to my third point…
3. Be Curious about People.
I’m a closet psychologist. I love to observe how people react in social situations, especially in large groups. I am also fascinated by the lives of people in general. I love to hear stories about what shaped each person to become who they are. In order to master the art of conversation, you need to have genuine interest in other people. This helps spark questions and earn favor from the people you speak with.
Excellent conversation skills boil down to one thing: asking questions.
As long as you can keep the person talking and express real interest in what they are saying, people will think you are incredibly outgoing. Just remember to read a book and sleep for a long time when you’re done so you don’t burn yourself out!
What are some things you would add to this list? Let me know by leaving a comment!