How to Thrive as an Introvert in an Extroverted World

If you’re an introvert like me (you enjoy relating to people, but social interaction drains you of energy), then you’ve probably noticed that the world seems to be oriented around extroversion.

Of course, this isn’t true everywhere. Cultures vary. But here in the United States, extroverts seem to have the edge. What to do?

This is you:

The Introvert Equation:  ↑ stimuli  =  ↑ stress   ↓ energy

Nothing wrong with that. But people may expect your equation to look like this:

The Extrovert Equation:  ↑ stimuli  =  ↓ stress    energy

Should you just pretend to be an extrovert your whole life? You could try. But even if you mastered the moves, at best you would be surviving, not thriving.

So, what to do? I propose you embrace your introversion instead of rejecting it. But do so strategically. Here’s how:

  1. Identify and eliminate unnecessary stress.

  • Have realistic expectations of yourself, others, and the world.
  • Don’t let other’s dysfunction derail you.
  • Prepare, prepare, prepare!
  1. Reduce stimuli by creating simple systems.

  • Reject ways of doing things that aren’t you.
  • Find ways of doing things that are you.
  • Get the blessing of others on both of these whenever possible.
  1. Talk to groups like you’re talking to one person.

  • Leverage your natural conversational style.
  • Find the friendly face.
  • Connect with individuals beforehand.
  • Think “me for them” rather than “them vs. me”. 
  1. Focus on caring about others rather than impressing them.

  • Concern for others trumps fear of others.
  • Imagine yourself interacting in positive, friendly ways…and then do so!
  • You may not be able to control how others relate to you, but you can control how you relate to others.
  1. Manage your energy strategically.

  • Before: Do things that fill your tank so that you can come into group environments energized and ready to go.
  • During: Don’t overextend yourself socially. Know your limits and keep an eye on your meter. Have a game plan for how you’ll spend your time and who you’ll talk to instead of just winging it.
  • After: Withdrawal, recharge, and don’t feel guilty. You need to refuel for your own sanity and to prepare for that next interaction.

What would you add to the list?

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