So, you’re having a few friends over to your house for a book club, a Bible study, or just a fun girls’ night. You’ve invited one friend who is kind of quiet, who may not know the other women well, and who you had to literally beg to even get her to agree to come. Chances are she’s an introvert. How can you help her feel as comfortable as possible?
Susan Cain recently released the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, and it is helping both introverts and extroverts! As an introvert, I read it and understand myself better. Susan theorizes it’s not that introverts don’t like people, it’s more about the sensory experience of being around others. These sensory experiences can be draining. As a good hostess, you can make your introverted friends feel more comfortable by taking a few steps:
- Tell her what to expect. Introverts like to have a plan. They like to know what they are getting themselves into. Tell her what you have planned, who you have invited, and what she’ll be expected to do. Something like this would be helpful, “Susan, I’m so glad you’re coming Friday night! The plan is to eat once everyone gets here and get to know each other before we start the book discussion. I’ve invited Beth, Janet, Mallory, and Claudia. We’ll take turns talking about what we liked and didn’t like about the book we all read.”
- Invite her over early and give her a job so she feels comfortable and has a purpose. Walking into a room where everyone is already talking to each other makes me uncomfortable. I feel like I have to be assertive and insert myself into an on-going conversation. I’m more likely to head to the food and just hang out until someone talks to me. I like to be early and establish myself in the area before lots of people get there. As the hostess, you could ask, “Susan, the book club starts at 7:00, but could you get here about 15 minutes early to help me get things set up? It would really help me out!”
- You can nudge, but don’t push. You can introduce her to everyone at the party, but don’t expect her to stand in the middle of a crowd talking to them at the same time. Introverts usually prefer one-on-one time that goes deeper than casual conversation. This is a strength, not a weakness! When you introduce her to someone new, you might also include something they have in common so your introverted friend will know how to start the conversation, “Susan, this is my friend Beth. Beth moved here from Georgia so she’s a southern girl like you!”