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The Young Introvert’s Guide to Socializing and Conversation

Networking. Apparently, it’s a thing that adults do. The word has graced the lips of the most extroverted among us and is “the word who must not be named” around introverts. As someone with no experience in the business world, it can be difficult for young people such as myself to learn how to approach such social situations. While adults have networking and “the office water cooler”, we have conversations at parties and school. There are a few solutions that can be had though, presented by a reasonably social introvert.

Starting the Conversation:

The hardest part about conversations is what to talk about. We all know that. Sometimes, we don’t want to talk about the weather for the umpteenth time or we think the person across from us is so boring you could fall asleep. Luckily for you, I have some advice.

  1. Talk about what brought you together. You are in the same place at the same time. Why? Maybe it’s a school party, talk about why/how you decided to go. Maybe you’re walking next to each other on the way to class, talk about your last class or next class or perhaps a little friendly gossip. Use a question or a statement. All that matters are a few sentences!
  2. …but sometimes even that doesn’t work. Maybe the atmosphere isn’t right. Maybe they are terrible at school or have some huge secret that they don’t want to reveal. But now you’ve tried and you can’t bear any more of that awful deafening silence. Then what? Search really deep for a solid similarity. I’m not talking “we both like pizza” (although that could work in a pinch). I mean a true match in identity. Maybe you are the same gender, maybe the same race, nationality, generation. You don’t need to get political (unless the context is right- then I encourage it) but those that complain together, stay together. Just remember to keep things light and always smile.

Continuing the Conversation:

Great! You’re conversing (and hopefully laughing), but suddenly you feel it coming- that dreaded “lull”. You need to think fast:

  1. If they’re talking: ask a follow up question. This could not be easier. If they mention any type of opinion, ask them to clarify. Or if that doesn’t make sense, get curious. Ask about any detail they mentioned. Try to get comfortably personal and philosophical if possible to avoid any further lulls. Remember silences are natural so don’t panic!
  2. If you’re talking: keep talking if you have more to say and if you are worried about boring them, just ask for their opinion. If you think they’ve already stopped listening simply change the subject and ask another question. Questions are great because they take the pressure off of you to maintain the conversation and allow the other person an easy way to avoid awkwardness. Just avoid those dead-end one word answer questions.

Putting it to the Test

Over the weekend, I tried these tips as I had dinner with four people I will be going to college with next year. I had never met them before and they were all quite introverted, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to test my own advice. I admit we did mainly use Tip 1a, but it is the best and most useful, so I fully condone that. We basically covered the basics that you discuss when you first meet people, which is definitely necessary. We avoided conversation starters and most conversations were pretty natural. One last thing to remember: if someone raises a question, they most often have an answer prepared. The best way to keep the conversation going after you answer their question is with a simple, “what about you?”

Conversation is not always going to be stimulating, especially at first. Once you hit it off with someone though, you can naturally discuss other bigger topics. Meeting people is supposed to be fun, so just remember to relax!

Are you an introvert dealing with how to socialize? Do you have any tips to share? Leave a comment below!

Also, be sure to watch this amazing video on how to network professionally if you’re an introvert:

 

 

Edited by Viveca Shearin

5 Comments

  1. As someone who has her fair share of problems with smalltalk, I think that the advice of asking follow up questions is very useful. They tend to dig deeper into the topic that you are talking about which makes the conversation seem less meaningless. And even if you are not that interested in / do not know much about what the other person is talking about, you might be learning something new! Let your curiosity help you out!
    If you are someone who does not like or cannot deal with vagueness and uncertainty very well I would like to add the following advice to the list:
    Ask questions that can be answered with numbers.
    For example: How long have you been living here? How many siblings do you have?
    Those questions give definitive answers that you know how react to (One year? So you are still kind of new here, right? / Six siblings? That must be a lot!) and can be used as great conversation staters!

  2. I can relate really well to most of these tips since I’ve tried them myself before. For most of my high school years, I look back and would classify myself as an introvert. I would open up to a select few and live in the world of books. But like any other person, I changed with time. I began opening up more with much difficulty. I’ve had my fair share of awkward moments and lulls in conversations before I picked up on certain patterns.

    It all really has to do with how comfortable you are. As an introvert, I was constantly overthinking the littlest things in every interaction I had. Conversation isn’t something to be forced. It should be natural and shouldn’t involve you worrying. That’s why many people tend to recommend asking questions because 1) they allow you to form connections so that you can be more comfortable with the other person and 2) they allow for curiosity and conversation to flow naturally.

    Another thing I’d like to mention is that while these tips are super helpful, there is no concrete way to create natural friendships. If you stick to a set formula then everything is at risk for sounding forced. You are your own person and unique in your own way, don’t expect the mainstream to apply to you.

  3. This article is a wonderful find for me, as an introvert who will soon be entering the much bigger world of college. The social situations I might find myself in are the source of most of my worry, and this guide is helpful. It’s simply put and straightforward, and I think I can easily incorporate this and try it out. If anything, it gives me a plan!

    Something else I would suggest adding is how introverted teenagers could talk to adults. I know I’ve been in the situation many times, where an adult swoops in and starts a conversation about school and maybe college plans, and it can be really intimidating if you don’t know how to respond. Mostly situations in which the introverted person isn’t talking to an equal, but someone above them, be it professors, bosses, etc. I know I could definitely use that advice, and so could many of my friends and peers.

  4. Quite like everyone else has been, I’m also very introverted. But, my problem is almost ALWAYS with simply starting a conversation, rather than keeping it going. What I mean is that I have trouble approaching people first. Generally, I assume that if someone wants to speak with me, then they should be the ones to come over and start talking. What do you think are the best ways to build up confidence to actually start the conversations with people?

  5. This article is a great help to me because I, myself, is an introvert.

    I’m not sure if this is the case for everyone, but for me, the fear lingers before and at the start of the conversation. But once the conversation has already sailed, the fear slowly melts away and my mind focuses on how you can keep the conversation going (if it’s becoming a good one) or how you can get out of it without being too awkward (if the conversation turned out to be bad).

    These tips can be pretty amazing and I hope they’ll work out when I talk to someone I really like. Most of the time, no matter how hard I prepare, when my crush sits beside me, my mind just goes awfully blank. These are all worth the try next time!

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