“I’m not a people person,” – introverts often say when they avoid going to parties or meeting new people. Every introvert can relate to the feeling of exhaustion after hanging out with a big group or going to a party where they don’t know a lot of people. Introverts get their energy from quietude, so they are often emotionally and physically drained when being surrounded by people, especially people they don’t know very well.
However, studies have shown that there are benefits to being a people person: being social often makes us happier, regardless of extroversion or introversion tendencies. So, if you want to reap the benefits of being a people person without sacrificing your energy and mental health, here are a few of Working Den’s best tips.
Set intentions for every interaction
What does it mean to be a people person? When you think of a people person, do you imagine someone who’s always “on” and ready to interact with everyone around them? If that thought exhausts you, you probably think that you are not sociable. Of course, being generous with your attention and social interactions is not necessarily a bad thing, but introverts only have a finite amount of energy to give to other people before feeling emotionally exhausted. So, we have to be more selective with the interactions we want to participate in and make sure that they are worth our time and energy.
One quick way to practice being more sociable is setting intentions for every interaction with people, whether it’s a family member, coworker, significant other, or friend. Are you looking to listen? Are you hoping to get closer to this person? Are you looking for a mutual understanding? Setting intentions for your interactions will help you feel more invested in spending time with this other person, and you will feel like your time is more useful and less emotionally draining. With continuous practice, you will feel closer to people around you and become more sociable as a result.
Choose settings that make you comfortable
Being a people person doesn’t mean that you have to go to big parties and talk to 10 people you don’t know. If you’re not comfortable in big group settings, it’s no wonder that you cannot talk to new people and be sociable. Everyone has preferences when it comes to social settings, and you should evaluate what yours are. If you love spending one-on-one time with people, maybe take a new friend out for coffee? If you feel more comfortable in a smaller group setting where you already know most people, maybe set up a small dinner party and only invite two new friends? If you are new at a company, perhaps get to know your work neighbours or teammates first?
Whatever makes you take your social guard down and make you feel comfortable, you should utilise those settings to get acquainted with people. Soon, you will also find that your comfort zone expands with practice, and you’re willing to be sociable in different group settings as well.
Cultivate a growth attitude
Everyone has something to teach you, everyone knows something you don’t. If you think of every social interaction as an opportunity to learn something new, this attitude will fuel your energy and make your interactions much more interesting.
Instead of thinking about social situations as you giving up your energy, you can shift your attitude so that every social interaction is an opportunity to gain new knowledge. Framing every conversation as learning opportunities will help you engage more enthusiastically with another person, and help you gain something from the conversation without emotionally draining you. Over time, this growth attitude can transform your social habits and make you a more interesting, knowledgeable person – and you’ll become more sociable at the same time!
Ask questions and listen empathetically
The key to being more sociable without talking too much is to ask insightful questions and listen empathetically. People – especially extroverts – love talking about themselves and sharing their life stories, so if you don’t know how to talk to new people, you can start with questions about them: where they grew up, what brought them to this party/company, how did they know the host, etc. If you’re not ready to share your own stories, you should listen empathetically and ask insightful follow-up questions, so that your conversation partner feels heard and valued.
Becoming a better listener is one of the easiest ways to become a better people person without feeling emotionally and physically drained, but it takes a lot of practice and patience. Listening intently will require that you ground yourself in the moment, and if you have set intentions for your conversation, you can navigate the conversation to help you achieve your goals.
Take time to recharge if you need to
Unlike extroverts who get their energy from social interactions, introverts are often drained after talking to a lot of new people and require time alone to recharge. If you feel exhausted after a long day of work or a big party, take the time to recharge your energy level. A part of becoming a better people person, especially if you are an introvert, is understanding what fuels you and what drains you so that you won’t feel burnout and shy away from social interactions the next time.
So, if you feel like you need some self-care and time alone, you should take the time to recharge and do activities that you enjoy by yourself or with a significant other. Reading a book, getting a massage, taking a bath, or cooking your favourite meal are all rewarding activities that can help introverts maintain their balance and fuel them for the next social situation. Although it seems counter-intuitive, allowing yourself time and space to recharge will make you a much better people person, because your energy level will be full and you will be ready to engage with them!