One Thousand Words on Inviting Introverts

Most people are thrilled when they open their mailbox or inbox and find an invitation.

They think “Paaaaaartay! Celebrate good times, come on!” They dance around in a circle with their hands over their hands, already counting the days until the festivities.

But when I receive an invitation, I am overwhelmed with indecision and dread.

Sure, it’s nice that people like me enough to invite me over but this is the thought process that follows:

“Do I want to go? Do I have to go? What if I say yes and then don’t want to go when the time arrives? Would it be rude to pull out at the last minute? Should I just say no now to avoid being rude later? Do I make up an excuse for not going or just say no.”

In case you haven’t guessed, or read any of my blogs, I am an introvert.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have friends or don’t like people. I can schmooze with the best of them, when I want to or have to. But I find parties stressful. I’m exhausted by the end of the evening and don’t feel the need to socialize again for a long while.

After a recent donor dinner at work, I felt like I had run a marathon after three hours of being “on.” Or at least how I imagine I would feel after running a marathon since running an actual marathon would probably kill me.

Just in case you have a friend or loved one like me, here are a couple of things to keep in mind when issuing an invitation to an introvert:

Don’t expect an introvert to be excited to attend.

Your introverted friend may have a perfectly wonderful time at your party, but more than likely they don’t look forward to the event with great anticipation. Anxiety, yes. Anticipation, not so much.

You know that saying “the more the merrier?” It was most assuredly penned by an extrovert. For me, the more people, the less at ease I feel.

I can’t count the number of times that I’ve approached a room full of people and felt my heart start pounding harder, my eyes searching for one person I know and can stick with for the evening, eliminating the need for small talk or, even worse, standing around awkwardly, frantically trying to think of something to say.

At a recent event, I was seated between a man who could barely hear and a woman for whom English wasn’t her first language. Or second.

I was left to carry the conversation beyond “what did she say?” and “no hablo mucho ingles.”

It was an introvert’s nightmare.

I consistently find myself sitting at the quiet end of the table, looking longingly at the other end where everyone is engaged in animated conversation, and wishing I was sitting down there, where my silence wouldn’t be noticed. With a conversational dud like me, I’m sure my tablemates feel the same way.

At meetings and business lunches, I always try to strategically place myself near the people who talk the most, taking the pressure off me to contribute unless I feel so moved. These extroverted souls act as my conversational beard, so to speak.

By now, this gravitation to the talkers is second nature. I don’t even realize I’m doing it.

So while you may be excited to host a great big gathering of your friends, just realize that the introverts in the group may be less thrilled.

Considering inviting those folks to smaller gatherings of people they know, rather than a large party. They’ll be more comfortable and you’ll have another excuse to socialize. More parties for you and less stress for them. It’s a win win.

Don’t take it personally if they say no without a good excuse.

A friend once accused me of trying to be mysterious because I would turn down an invitation without offering an excuse.

I guess she wanted to know what I was choosing to do instead of hanging out with her.

Mystery has nothing to do with it. I don’t offer an excuse because often I don’t have one, or one she would accept easily.

I just would rather stay home sometimes.

It’s hard to tell someone that I’ve had meetings three nights in a row and need to be alone for an evening before I pass out.

An extrovert doesn’t understand that. They could go out every night of the week and twice on Sundays. And if someone says they’d rather not go out, they assume there’s something wrong with them. “Are you ok? Is something wrong? Are you depressed?”

Or they try to guilt them into going. “It’s not healthy to sit at home. You shouldn’t be so antisocial. It won’t be the same without you.”

I always simply say, “I’m sorry but I can’t join you. Have fun!” It seems like a good compromise. It wasn’t a lie and it wouldn’t hurt their feelings like “I have to lay on my couch and watch Castle” might.

If you have an introverted friend, don’t ask them to lie. Learn the code. A simple no is their nice way of saying that they’re on social overload. If they have a real excuse or prior engagement, they’ll tell you.

And don’t try to guilt them into joining you. There’s nothing wrong with them just because they’d rather read a good book instead of go to a crowded noisy bar.

The extroverts reading this are probably convinced that I’m agoraphobic, unfriendly and miserable, huddled alone in a quiet room, hissing at people who try to lure me outside.

I’m not. I just know myself and when I’ve had enough of people.

There are plenty of other out there too. Nice, intelligent people who need time alone to recharge.

So just remember that loud, populated gatherings aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Some of us actually prefer to drink that tea in solitude rather than at a tea party.

One thought on “One Thousand Words on Inviting Introverts

  1. I am probably more extrovert than introvert, but I understand where you’re coming from. Do you have any advice for someone who is throwing a party that includes introverts and extroverts on how to make the introverts feel less anxious once they get there? Is it good to have a quieter room where people can just sit and relax, or is that weird? Would that make people feel isolated? Is it good to have a game or something to do that people can choose to watch or participate in?
    I think I have a fair number of introverted friends that try really hard and have to expend all of their energy to come to a party because they’re trying to be extroverts for that one night and I want them to feel more like they can be themselves. I’m searching the web for ideas on how to accommodate different temperaments at a party, but ALL of the advice out there is for introverts on how to survive a party (basically by pretending to be something that does not come naturally to them). Apparently extroverts are a bit thoughtless and haven’t been pulling their (our) weight.
    Are all big parties daunting? Are there any you’ve been to that have been great, and what made them great?

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