We have all been there – hosting a dinner, a family gathering, a small get-together. And as a good host, we want to make all our guests feel at home and relaxed. Some people are easy to talk to, but some seem to shy away from the conversation.
As an introvert myself, I feel more comfortable not being the center of attention. Talking to people, or being talked to, always makes me anxious. And anxiety is just one of many reasons introverts may be more difficult to draw into a conversation. So how does one draw an introvert in and engage them in conversation? Well, fret no more: here are some tips gained from years of being an introvert.
I came to one conclusion after years of engaging in small talk with folks that first go well but quickly fizzle out. People want to tell you everything about them, which isn’t always a bad thing. You can learn more about someone by taking an interest in them and discovering their hobbies, passions, and occupations. Naturally, in order to continue a conversation, you must show real interest. After all, it’s simple to recognise those who are acting interested. Making small talk has also taught me that you need to give people your full attention. Avoid interjecting; doing so just irritates others, and rushing the topic could backfire.
Ever feel like you’re speaking to a brick wall during a conversation? When you lose interest, it is clear to other people that you do not want to participate in the conversation. All it takes to get people to open up, even during small talk, is to listen carefully. Make an effort to make eye contact and refrain from flitting your eyes from one spot to another. They’ll assume you prefer the scenery to their company if your eyes start to wander.
Ask for advice
Once you find out a person’s interest or passion, you can ask for advice. Introverts may be quiet, but they can think and they love to give a bit of advice. You could, for example, point out a problem at work, an issue with a gathering you are planning, or even some mundane issue such as the best mechanic in their area. The point is that it should be a ‘safe’ issue, not controversial, and something that the person is passionate about or willing to engage with. Whatever topic you choose, lead gently into it, so that they are not scared off. For introverts, so long as the topic is not directly about them (Why are you not married yet?), they are more likely to respond.
Mind your body language
Most importantly, it’s important to unwind. Having a conversation isn’t like an interrogation, so it’s important to remember your body language in these situations. If you’re feeling too tense, it will most likely turn people away from speaking with you, so you should be relaxed wherever you choose to sit or stand. This advice could go both ways, as you should also keep an eye out for their body language as well. They may not say much, but their body language will show if they are becoming increasingly relaxed with the conversation, or wearier.