Introverts like to socialize with deep conversations.

Introverts Like to Socialize in a Different Way—Our Own Way

The way introverts like to socialize is just different from—not better or worse than—the way extroverts like to socialize. For introverts, it’s all about depth.

Whenever I encounter Aristotle’s famous declaration that “man is by nature a social animal,” my initial reaction is to be concerned.

About myself.

Because thoughts of “something must be wrong with me” immediately start coursing through my head.

I’m just not particularly social. Or at least I don’t feel social in the sense that Western culture seems to define the concept.

I don’t go out for drinks with friends.

I’m not part of a church or a bowling league or a card club.

I don’t attend parties and other get-togethers unless I have to, or unless my wife or someone else I care about asks me to. I just don’t gravitate to such activities on my own.

I barely even do Facebook.

But I’m not all alone in life. Far from it.

I’m married, and I want to be because I love my beautiful wife, Adrianne.

I’m a dad to four kids that I also love.

I know our neighbors pretty well—some of them, at any rate—and I enjoy interacting with my wife’s teaching colleagues, our kids’ teachers and coaches, family members, and the professional acquaintances I’ve gotten to know in my own community and elsewhere.

I have a handful of close friends, too. I don’t communicate with them very often, but when I do it’s as if we pick up our conversation right where we left off on the last one, even if it was a year ago … or a decade ago.

So I know in my heart of hearts that I’m not not a social animal. No one is.

But I am a pretty strong introvert.

And introversion affects how being “a social animal” is both defined and executed.

Yes, man is a social animal. But all of us who make up mankind carry out our socializing in unique ways to suit our own unique wants, needs, and preferences.

Those of us who fall on the introverted side of life, in particular, see—and do—our socializing in ways that are quite different from those of our extroverted counterparts.

And you know what?

That’s perfectly fine.

Introverts Like to Socialize with Depth

When I was pursuing my master’s degree in counseling in the mid 1990s, there was one course I was dreading more than any other …

Group Counseling.

I had heard enough about it to know that the class was run like an actual group counseling session. Twenty or so of us would be sitting in a room together, in a circle, and sharing our feelings and concerns and problems with each other, the idea being that experiencing group counseling as a client would help us be more effective group counseling leaders when the time came in our professional lives.

Though by the time I took the class I had gotten to know many of my classmates pretty well, I still didn’t want to sit around with them talking about personal issues, mine or theirs. (Note: Yes, this was ironic for a counselor-in-training.)

But then the course began, and I quickly realized that it would actually be one of the best classes I would ever take in my life.


One word …


Deep Interactions Lead to Deep Impact

The depth of our social interactions was unmatched by anything I’d ever experienced before, largely because there was such a big group of us, all together in one place at one time, not only discussing things deeply but also listening to each other deeply.

To this day, more than a quarter century later, I still carry in my wallet the words of one of my group counseling classmates, a former nun who, through our many class interactions, got to know me well enough to write this about—and for—me on a piece of blue scrap paper as part of one of our final activities:

You are like the kind of rock that when it’s opened is a crystallized gem—because you are strong, solid, and somewhat ordinary appearing on the outside, but rich and valuable and beautiful (sorry, guy!) on the inside.

Now that’s the way introverts like to socialize!

And that’s the type of social interaction that will keep an introverted guy like me going for, well, 26 years now and counting.

I get the same kind of deeper socializing anytime I attend a lecture on a topic of strong interest to me at one of the college campuses in my area, particularly if the speaker devotes time at the end for questions and comments from the audience.

Whereas I will want to leave any party I attend almost immediately, I will want these lecture sessions to continue on into the wee hours of the night.

Because they aren’t someone else’s type of socializing; they’re my kind of socializing as an introvert.

And that—to paraphrase Robert Frost—makes all the difference.

Socializing Tips for Introverts

Where might you find your kind of socializing as an introvert?

In general terms, you may naturally be drawn to one-on-one or very-small-group interactions vs. bigger ones. You’ll likely also appreciate quieter, more intimate settings vs. loud environments where you can’t hear yourself think, to say nothing of hearing other people talk.

More specifically, here are a few possibilities for you to consider as you explore ways to socialize to your introvert strengths and preferences:

Play off your interests, both current and potential. It’s so much easier to socialize, and to want to socialize, if there’s a chance for you to learn something more about a topic you’re already interested in, or to discover something new.

Find “your people.” Not long ago, my wife and I attended a Beatles tribute band concert. It was easy to socialize with the people there—and to share the concert experience with them—because they, like me, loved the Fab Four.

Get involved with something bigger. I frequently volunteer for my kids’ various school activities, and I find it rewarding to not only get to know the various kids involved, but also the teachers, the other school staff members, and fellow parents.

Whether I’m counting kids’ sit-ups for fitness testing or teaching kids to skate or keeping kids alive in the “bouncy houses” at the end-of-the-school-year carnival, it’s easy to be part of a social activity that contributes to a greater good.

Whatever path you take, just remember: Your social life is yours. Define it your own way.

And run it your own way too.

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